Road Impressions

The Opel Ascona 19SR

Opel has come it long way since the make was associated here with an ugly little saloon the chief merits of which were low price, roominess, and independent front suspension. Indeed, as Motor Sport has proclaimed from time to time, the modern Opels, those 'German Vauxhalls': are mostly very fine cars. The Ascona 19SR is no exception. There are more sophisticated cars, naturally, of more advanced specification, and most of us who motor aspire to, or dream of, owning such cars. (Which is why BMWs predominate at Motor Sport.) Yet there are times when, in my opinion, the less complex, more commonplace makes have their plot in the motoring scheme of things. It is not that the better (and naturally more costly) cars are less easy to drive, more exacting to handle, and I find the thing difficult to explain, yet tangible. It is rather a case of comparing, pre-war, a GP Bugatti with an Allard. Both had a great appeal, yet were far apart.

Among today's useful saloons and coupes that are, as it were, in the Allard category I would include Ford, Vauxhall, Opel and others. The Ascona 19SR two-door that I have been driving is an altogether admirable car for casual as well as formal occasions, if, again, my meaning isn't too obscure. It has the four-cylinder 90 (DIN) b.h.p. single-carburetter engine which gives more than adequate performance, and runs safely to 5,780 r.p.m.; it is unpleasantly noisy at Motorway speeds, however. Outwardly this Ascona looks compact and smart. From within it seems a bigger car, comfortable, with an excellent "German-vision" instrument panel possessing tachometer, speedometer, oil-gauge (30 lb./sq. in.), fuel gauge, voltmeter and thermometer, convenient minor controls if you can accept one steering-column stalk, and on the 19SR high-geared (but heavy) steering, sports-type shock-absorbers and heavy-duty front springs, and very good Bosch H4 Halo gen headlamps. The Philips radio panel incorporates a clock. The gear shift and the ride may not compare with the more exclusive moderns. But as a pod everyday sporting saloon priced competitively at £3,175.38, I rate this Opel Ascona highly, although demisting could be improved; the rear screen takes a long time to clear. The fuel range approaches 300 miles, and consumption of the 4-star petrol, including motorway driving, was a commendable 29.3 m.p.g. from the 1,897 c.c. overhead-camshaft engine in which the cam operates upwards onto the rockers, and which turns at 3,600 r.p.m. at an indicated 70 m.p.h. The boot is illuminated even when the side-lamps are off, but the horn is than muted. The radio works without turning on the ignition. The test car was on 13 in. Pirelli Cinturato CN38s and the engine used no oil in 400 enjoyable, effortless miles. A unique car.—W.B.