2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
The Insignia will be the star of the London Motor Show - Opel hopes. Almost 30 years ago, the Insignia ancestor Ascona wrote a success story in the middle class. Time for an excursion in the signal red original.
By Sebastian Viehmann
Ascona - that sounds wonderfully exotic at the beginning of the 70s, like a holiday in the sun of Ticino. Fortunately, however, you no longer have to torment your way across the Alps with your Goggomobil and your caravan. Opel has a new car in its portfolio, and the name says it all: out of Rüsselsheim and on to Lake Maggiore. Into a new middle class for good citizens who cannot yet afford an Opel Rekord but who have outgrown the Kadett financially.
68 hp for 7,365 marks
In 1970 the two-door Ascona with a 1.6-liter engine and 68 hp cost 7,365 marks. That is around 1500 marks more than you have to put on the table for a Beetle with the same displacement but weak-chested 50 hp. Our photo model is even a real climber: It is the 1.6 liter S in L version with four doors and a four-cylinder with 120 Newton meters of torque, boosted to 80 hp.
This means that the signal red senior is still quite lively today, which is not surprising considering the curb weight of 985 kilograms. Nowadays, even the Opel Corsa weighs more than a ton. The wooden gear knob on the long lever flatters the hand, and when you have engaged fourth and thus also last gear, the lever is almost on the center console.
Four people can lounge comfortably on the cushions in the small Opel. The large panes and spindly A-pillars ensure that you can enjoy the alpine panorama on the way to Ascona, without any new-fashioned glass roof.
On the thin tires with 13-inch steel rims, the Rüsselsheimer rolls with its central joint rigid axle a bit spongy through the curves and rocks like a jelly over large bumps, but one is used to much worse from cars of this year. The lack of power assistance when steering compensates for optical pleasures such as the chrome-plated exterior mirrors and haptic revelations such as the black synthetic leather in the doors, which shouldn't be touched on hot days because it would otherwise stick to the skin.
In November 1970 the Ascona came onto the market as a new model series. The body was completely new, the rest of the Ascona borrowed from its siblings: the chassis was derived from the Kadett, the engines from the record. The car should enable the pilots of the Kadett or the old Olympia Rekord an affordable class promotion. He did that quite passably, although his tin dress looked quite conservative compared to that of the main competitor Ford Taunus. The Manta A, which was set up on the Ascona platform, provided that certain tingling in the stomach.
So it's no wonder that a previous owner wanted to give the signal red Ascona a sportier look with additional headlights. The car, which Opel's traditional department bought 12 years ago from caring pensioners, is in almost perfect original condition.
The vinyl roof, often smiled at as the aberration of taste of the 60s and 70s, looks wonderfully American. Back then it was a kind of status symbol for higher-quality cars and a kind of replacement for two-tone paintwork that had gone out of fashion. The black plastic radiator grille and the three-point belts on the front seats reveal that this is a vehicle after the facelift - on July 9, 1974, the signal red Rüsselsheimer rolled off the assembly line. This saved him the need to reduce the output of the S engine to 75 hp, which was necessary from 1975 onwards due to new exhaust gas limits and the adaptation to less leaded fuel.
700,000 Ascona A in five years
In five years of production, almost 700,000 Ascona A's were built, more than half of them for export. The Ascona B, incidentally the last generation of models with rear-wheel drive, produced 1.5 million units, the Ascona C (1981 - 1988) even 1.7 million. Its successor, the Vectra, followed on from the success, was built around 450,000 times in the first year of production alone and for a long time fought head-to-head with the Passat in Germany.
Those times are long gone: According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, only 18,087 units of the current Vectra were registered in Germany in 2007. The Passat had more than 105,000 cars in the same period. Vectra production will finally end at the end of September. Rüsselsheim is now placing all its hopes in the Insignia, which will be presented to the general public for the first time at the London Motor Show - and how the Ascona will once be an Opel for climbers.