Opel is celebrating three world premieres at this year’s IAA Frankfurt International Motor Show (public days September 12-22).

The new Astra with high efficiency engines, the Grandland X Hybrid4 with all-wheel drive (WLTP1 fuel consumption, weighted, combined: 1.6 l/100 km, 37 g/km CO2; NEDC2: 1.6 l/100 km, 36 g/km CO2) and the new sixth-generation Corsa in three versions. The best-selling small car (more than 13.6 million units) is going electric and with the Corsa-e Rally – also making its debut at the IAA – even forms the basis of an emissions-free competition car. At the IAA the new Corsa will be joined by a special guest – a rare 1987 Corsa GT in yellow, a testament to 37 years of fun and success. The not-so-old-timer was driven from its last home in Portugal to the Opel Classic Workshop in Rüsselsheim. From there it will drive to the IAA in Frankfurt, where it will contribute tradition and further excitement to the launch of the new Corsa.

Opel the reliable: 2,700km from Porto to Rüsselsheim via Zaragoza

It took a while for Opel Classic to find a scarce first-generation Corsa GT. This particular example, originally registered in Spain, was languishing, forgotten, in a garage in Portugal. The drive to Frankfurt for the small, unassuming Gran Turismo starts from a carpark at the harbour of Porto.

Opel offered the GT from April 1985 until autumn 1987. It was the successor of the Corsa SR, with a 70hp 1.3-litre carburettor engine. The extra power and the subtle spoilers made the GT the sportsman of the first Corsa generation – until the more extrovert GSi arrived in 1988. A five-speed manual gearbox tamed the thirst and the rpm on longer trips.

Even today, keeping up with the traffic in the Corsa GT is surprisingly quiet and effortless. There is no unnecessary firmness in the chassis, no slack in the steering and no superfluous information in the instrument panel: apart from the usual dials, only a rev counter and an oil pressure gauge. The fuel consumption matches the official figures of the time – more than six litres per 100km is hardly ever burned. The 750kg kerb weight is a big help here, and also allows a power-to-weight ratio of 10.71kg per horsepower.

On the way from Portugal to Rüsselsheim, the GT drops in at Zaragoza, where it was built in 1987. The car is even allowed to visit the production plant. As the yellow Corsa stops at the assembly line, lots of employees come over as if to greet a long lost friend.

The journey east goes past Barcelona, across France and from Basel along the Rhine. A total of 2,700km for a 32-year-old Corsa that was ripped out of peaceful retirement in Portugal – without any repairs for the long road trip. As the GT pulls up in Rüsselsheim, the Opel Classic team is waiting eagerly.