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Ascona 400 Group 4 Rally Car

Opel Ascona 400

Home » History » Ascona 400 » Ascona 400 pt 2

Ascona 400 engineIn the 1982 World Championship, so called “Phase 2” engines were attaining 255 bhp and “Phase X'” were said to have about 270 bhp on tap An even higher figure could have been achieved, but then the engine would not have been suitable for rallying.

The chassis was based on the production Ascona. Front suspension was the usual double wishbone set-up but either solid jointed for tarmac or rubber bushed for forest. The shock absorbers, by Bilstein, were fitted with a special oil to keep evaporation at high temperatures to a minimum and the spring rates were also tuned for either forest or tarmac. Due to the good design from the outset of the production Ascona 400, it was not very necessary to improve the handling. The wheel geometry at the rear was changed. Equal length top links accommodated in new housings, fabricated where the rear seat cushion would normally sit, provided longitudinal rear axle location. Lateral axle fixing was by the standard Panhard rod, while the rear springs worked between the lower longitudinal link and body floor as on the road version.

All round ventilated disc brakes and AP four pot callipers fitted both ends provided a good stopping ability. Brake balance was driver adjustable and a high ratio steering rack was fitted. The rally cars ran on 15 inch diameter light alloy wheels with Michelin M & S tyres of different width according to the road conditions.

Mention has been made of only the most important characteristics, but items such as the aluminium roll cage in the body shells prepared by Matter Actiengesslischaft of Graben-Neudorf, 100 litre tank, dry sump lubrication, under floor protection, rev counter, made to measure seats, pockets in the door, the thin side glass, glass fibre bonnet, boot, bumpers and spoilers were all specially made and in most cases designed to reduce weight.

In 1981, Opel's World Championship effort subsided for lack of sponsorship, their only success being Jimmy McRae winning the RAC Open Series with the British Dealer Opel Team.

Ascona 400 dashboardBy the end of 1981, The Ascona 400 was becoming obsolete, waiting to be replaced by the mechanically similar Manta 400. However homologation problems led to Opel prolonging the Ascona's life for another one and a half seasons. Its reliability, though, allowed Rohrl to win the Drivers' Championship for a second time and enabled McRae to take the RAC British Open Series again together with a very high placing in the European Rally Championship. McRae's team-mate, Henry Toivonen, was runner-up in the British series, both running in the newly formed Rothmans Opel Rally Team.

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