Opel Ascona A SR: orange version
The Opel Ascona is a large family car (D-segment in Europe) that was produced by the German automaker Opel from 1970 to 1988. It was produced in three separate generations, beginning with rear-wheel-drive and ending up as a front-wheel drive J-car derivative.
The Ascona took its name from the lakeside resort of that name in Ticino, Switzerland, and already in the 1950s a special edition of the Opel Rekord P1 was sold as an Opel Ascona in Switzerland, where the name was again used in 1968 for a locally adapted version of the Opel Kadett B into which the manufacturers had persuaded a 1.7-litre engine borrowed from the larger Rekord model of the time.
The Opel Ascona A launched in 1970 and sold across Europe was, however, the first mainstream Opel model to carry the name.
The Ascona was introduced in September 1970, lasting for 18 years and 3 generations and ended production in August 1988, to be replaced by the Opel Vectra A. The second and third generations of the Ascona were developed as global platforms by Opel’s then parent General Motors, with various derivative versions manufactured by other GM divisions around the world.
In motorsport, Walter Röhrl won the 1982 World Rally Championship drivers’ title with an Ascona 400.
Ascona A (1970–1975)
In the fall of 1970, Opel presented its completely new vehicle range in Rüsselsheim (internal project code 1.450). The Opel Manta coupé was launched on September 9, followed by the Opel Ascona on October 28 in two- and four-door sedan forms, plus a three-door station wagon called the Caravan or Voyage. These models were positioned between the existing Opel Kadett and the Opel Rekord.
The Ascona was developed as a replacement to the Kadett, but late in the car’s development Opel chose to instead develop a new, smaller Kadett and instead positioned the Ascona as a competitor to the successful Ford mid-sized Taunus range. The Opel Ascona A stayed in production until 1975. By that time, almost 692,000 vehicles of the first series had been produced.
The range featured petrol engines from 1.2 L to 1.9 L, with power between 60 PS (44 kW) and 90 PS (66 kW). The 1.2 L had an overhead valve (OHV) head, while the 1.6 L and 1.9 L featured the Opel cam-in-head engine (CIH). The CIH was a compromise effort, with the camshaft mounted next to the valves rather than above them. All used a single barrel carburetor. Even with this simple design, the Ascona 1.9 SR had a successful career in motorsports, with Walter Röhrl winning the European Rally Championship in 1974. Tuner Steinmetz developed a special version of the Ascona SR, with two single-barrel Solex carburettors, lifting power to 125 PS (92 kW).