Today, we venture outdoors, virtually speaking, to take the air in Ascona.
It’s probably fair to say that for most of us, the notion of escape is currently a seductive one – particularly to somewhere sparsely populated, picturesque and relatively pristine. Alpine vistas loom large in the imagination, perhaps somewhere akin to the attractive Swiss resort of Ascona, as pictured above.
When DTW was in its first flush and Mr. Kearne’s dipsomaniacal tendencies hadn’t drained the coffers entirely, Places formed one of our monthly themes, and amid the varied offerings from DTW’s writers that month, we considered Ascona and its (probably tenuous) relationship to the Opel saloon model series of the same name.
The Ascona was first introduced in 1970, slotting into the range above the second-generation Kadett. Barely larger in most notable dimensions, it’s believed to have originally been intended to replace the smaller car, but was repurposed late in development. Rüsselsheim’s ambitions in the US market was probably at least partly behind the decision – that and the growing threat from Köln-Merkenich in the form of the popular mid-size Taunus range.
Closely related beneath the skin to the Manta coupé which debuted a little earlier that same year, the Ascona was available in three engine sizes – a 1.2 litre, 1.6 and 1.9 – the latter two engines featuring the familiar Opel cam-in-head layout. Three body styles were also offered – two and four door saloons and a Caravan three-door estate model.
Looking at matters agnostically, the Ascona A, whatever its outright capabilities might have been appears to have been viewed as a decent, well-rounded product, well up to its blue oval opposition. The major criticism one could level at the car from a conceptual perspective is that in retrospect it seems rather on the petite side.
Stylistically, there seems little to find fault with, as long as late sixties Americana is to your taste. One observation however. Owing perhaps to the optical effect created by the pronounced inwards taper of the lower bodywork, the ‘Scona always appeared to sit a little high on its wheels.
The Ascona A enjoyed a relatively short lifespan, being withdrawn from production after only 5 years. In that time, close to 700,000 were made and sold. It’s B-suffixed replacement, which was a palpably larger car, came close to doubling that figure over its slightly longer career.
Opels have never been cars to linger long in the memory, so I find little of note to add at this point, apart from recommending Richard’s fine meditation from 2016 on both Ascona the place, and car, which you may savour at your leisure by clicking the link here.