Happy 50th birthday Opel Ascona

Celebrating an icon

Opel was originally founded in 1862 in Rüsselsheim, Germany and over the course of its incredibly long and illustrious history, the German brand has created a plethora of important cars. Most of these cars were utilitarian and practical more than they were beautiful but Opel did occasionally come up with an idea that would go on to become an automotive icon. Today, let's take some time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of these icons: the Ascona.

It was first introduced in 1970, marking the brand's return to making mid-size sedans after a 12-year hiatus, which began when Opel discontinued production of the Kadett and the Olympa. It was named after a pretty port town in Switzerland, on Lake Maggiore, and it started a trend that Opel would carry on using for years, giving all of its cars names ending with the letter "A".

It was available with a 1.5-litre (1584 cc to be exact) 4-cylinder engine, with power outputs of 68 hp or 80 hp, and also a 1.9-litre (1897 cc) producing 90 hp. In 1972, Opel also introduced a new 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine capable of 60 hp. The Ascona was originally available as either a 2-door coupe or a 4-door saloon until 1974, when Opel introduced the "Voyage" station wagon version (pictured in the header), which featured upscale interior with leather and wood.

The second-gen Ascona, usually referred to as "Ascona B" , was unveiled in the Summer of 1975. It was 20 cm longer than its predecessor and it was made available with a revamped 1.196 cc engine making 60 hp. In 1978, Opel also introduced a 100-hp 1.998 cc engine and a 58-hp 2.100 cc Diesel.

The third-gen Ascona, Ascona C, was unveiled at the 1981 Frankfurt Motor Show. It was built on a completely revised platform, now with front-wheel drive, and it was available with a brand new, more powerful 1.8-litre, direct-injection engine with 115 hp.

Three generations and 18 years later, the Opel Ascona went into retirement with quite an impressive resume. It was both a commercial success, with 3,926,058 units sold and a motorsport star, having won the European Rally in 1974 and the 1975 Acropolis Rally with none other than Walter Röhrl at the wheel.

In 1976, Opel began working on a new "super-Ascona", limited to 400 units, powered by a 4-cylinder 2.4-litre Cosworth engine making 240 hp. The Opel Ascona 400 debuted in 1980 grabbing a fourth place at the Monte Carlo Rally and winning the Swedish Rally the following year.

In order to celebrate the Ascona's birthday, Opel is going to take part in the 2020 Bodensee Klassik (7-9 May) with six Asconas and six Mantas. You're welcome to join if you're around.

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