Self-Taught Skills: Fred Werner And His Street/Strip Turbo Opel GT

In Oklahoma City, the original home of the “Street Outlaws” television franchise and a mecca for high-horsepower cars, you never know what might pull up beside you at a stoplight. In the greater OKC area, if you hear the rumble of horsepower and a modestly-sized, bright orange something hits your peripheral vision, you just might be getting a visit from Fred Werner and his beautiful street/strip Opel GT.

Werner is a self-taught craftsman of everything race car construction. Not only has it provided him with an assortment of cool cars over the years, but it’s segued into a role with “Street Outlaws” racing series, “No Prep Kings.” Werner works with Chuck Parker and his “Chuck 55” No Prep Kings racing team. Fred is not only part of the team on the road, but also spends considerable time keeping Parker’s shop humming between events.

The Opel is mostly steel, other than the Class Glass fiberglass front end. “The Opel was built over the last two years, including all the bodywork that I did myself. Following that, my friends at Bakers Body Works shot the Sunset orange metallic,” says Werner.

Big things in small packages is what the Opel GT has stood for in drag racing for decades. Fred Werner's new piece takes that same ideology to both the streets and strip.

With all functioning lights, turn signals, and even factory glass, Werner’s Opel is a licensed street dazzler; but just like all of his cars in the past, it sees both dragstrip and street racing as the mood hits him. “It is nice to come home to my Opel when we get back from being on the road and just go for a drive,” jokes Werner.

The 25.1 spec chassis was built in his own shop. Fred started doing work for himself years ago, but others started seeing his craftsmanship. He soon got into creating all kinds of chassis and race car fabrication “to make a little extra money,” he remembers.

“Back in the day, I had a Subaru Brat that I built a tube chassis for, and put a small-block Chevy in it,” Werner remembers. “That’s the first car I entirely built from zero. That thing ran high 5-second e.t.’s in the 1/8-mile, which was kind of unheard of in that time in a street car.”

Two VS racing turbochargers settle in nicely ahead of the aluminum radiator. Combined with Holley Performance EFI, a nitrous system, and a methanol injection kit, the 5.3 LS-platform engine produces plenty of power.

Strange Engineering components handle a majority of the Opel’s suspension duties. The front suspension is set up with Strange Engineering struts and rack steering—the rearend consists of a self-fabricated 9-inch Ford housing. Werner also designed and built the 4-link suspension and completed the rear with an aluminum differential, 40-spline axles, double-adjustable shocks, and brakes all around from Strange.

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The interior was all created by Werner, as well. Summit Racing bomber-style seats are between the self-made door and interior panels fabricated from carbon-fiber. A stock Opel dash is set up with a Holley Performance instrument cluster and a Grant steering wheel. All of Werner’s firesuit, helmet, and belts are from Racequip.

Werner’s toy is powered by an all-aluminum 5.3 General Motors LS engine that helps keep the Opel at welter-weight status. The powerplant uses GM 243 heads ported by Hoppers Heads. A factory crankshaft, Summit Racing rods, pistons, and Steve Morris cam make up the rotating assembly.

With the workmanship that rivals race cars by high-end chassis shops, Werner constructed almost the entire car himself with impressive self-taught skills.

On top, just peeking through the hood, is a Holley Performance High-Ram intake, throttle body, injectors, and a Terminator ECU. There is also a pair of VS Racing 62/62 turbochargers and related VS Racing boost components, such as the wastegates. If the turbocharging isn’t enough for a “relaxing drive,” an additional Snow Performance direct-injected methanol kit, plus an NX nitrous oxide system, completes the power duties.

Werner did chime in to thank Roadrunner Performance fittings and hoses for helping him plumb the interesting engine setup.

The powerplant is followed by a Summit Racing flexplate, M&M Transmission Powerglide transmission, and Neal Chance torque converter. All the shifting is controlled with a Precision Performance Products shifter. Finishing out the hardware list, Weld Magnum 2.0 wheels (15 x 12 inch double-beadlocks on the rear), Werner hits the ‘strip and street on Mickey Thompson front runners and drag radials on the back.

“I do want to send all of my appreciation out to Chuck Parker. Not only do I have the opportunity to work on the “Chuck 55″ NPK entry, but Chuck is a hell of a guy to work with. I could not have built the Opel so quickly without his help with wheels, tires, transmission, and stuff like that—he has helped me considerably.”

Maintaining the original dashboard, it is reworked with a Holley Performance EFI Pro dashboard and a wealth of carbon-fiber panels.

Asking what else Werner does for fun, he tells us, “My true daily driver and parts chaser is a 2002 Chevy S-10 with an aluminum 503 cubic-inch Chevy with a big single turbo and some additional nitrous on it. I drive that every day.”

The 1970’s-era Opel GT is a rare sight on the road today, but just like a lot of street machinery in the greater Oklahoma City region, you might run across Fred and his beast cruising around, and he just might be itching for a street fight.

About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
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