Ascona 400 Group 4 Rally Car
Opel Ascona 400
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.
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.