Opel Ascona B build diary

Sunday 18 11 2001
Found an Opel Ascona B for sale on the Opel Manta Owner’s Club website classifieds. Went to Salford to see the Opel and bought it yesterday. Drove it all the way home with no problems.

I got many strange looks on the motorway. We stopped at the services, got loads more funny looks in the car park, this is going to be wicked…

It’s looking pretty nice already… dreaming of purple candy with black leather… mmm..


People either think its really cool, or conversely that I am a muppet.


Engine swap

The original plan was to use the 2.0i engine from my Cavalier SRi and run injection but this is a very big job. While i was considering what to do Clive from the OMOC sadly crashed his silver Manta B and wrote it off, meaning that the 2.0s concourse engine would go to the scrappy unless someone bought it (Like me). It was rolling roaded at 100bhp at the wheels which in a light car such as the Ascona should be nippy… as well as it being rebuilt it has a K&N filter, stainless braided hoses everywhere, a polished manifold, polished coil etc etc. Clive has spent a lot of time and money on that engine!

I rolled up at Clive’s place at around 10am, it was an ok day weatherwise so it was looking good. The Manta engine was all disconnected and ready to lift out, a bit more noodling and we were set to lift. Lifting engines is a scary task, I have helped a couple of times and it always shits me up – this time no exception. There were a few times during the weekend where we were lucky not to have been wearing an engine shaped hat.

It was as usual a case of wiggling the lump around on the hoist until it came free from the engine bay – success! Now to push the poor engineless Manta out onto the road, the first of many times we would be pushing cars around over the weekend!

Once that was out the way, the Ascona engine was to come out. I had driven the car down from Manchester to Nottingham previously and to Leicester that morning – when we started to take it all to bits I was surprised it got me anywhere! All the original hoses, clips etc were so fucked most of them fell apart as we worked.


We soon had two engines on Clive’s drive. The gearboxes were left on the engines as i was having the 5 speed and propshaft from the Manta as well. The transmission tunnel had to be jigsawed out to accomodate the new gearbox and a Manta centre console was fitted.

Fitting the manta engine to the Ascona was a tense moment, it would not fit for a while and I let the lift down a little quick, luckily it was in the right place and dropped onto the mounts with the gearbox nicely tucked away under the bulkhead. All the hoses and clips were replaced with the decent ones Clive had used on his Manta – many of the bolts were replaced with stainless items as well.


The exhaust was a bastard to fit. Making a hatchback Manta exhaust fit an Ascona saloon is not easy. Much cutting, welding and swearing later however, the phat tailpipe was sitting right and it was all connected. God only knows how Clive did it.

We were getting excited as the car was prepared to start up for the first time, a shower of sparks from the coil scared the shit out of me but it started straight up. I grinned madly as i heard the exhaust and filter doing their thing, it sounded well meaty!

I drove the car back to Nottingham that night, taking it easy at first for fear of anything going wrong and to get used to the new engine and box, I soon had chance to give it some down the A46 though! I went out the day after for a spin, as i turned back onto the main road after caning it down a country lane, the car filled with steam. Limping home, i discovered that a hose had come undone and it was pissing water onto the exhaust manifold! Easily fixed, and it was soon going again.

A few things remain to sort out. The drivers side headlight/indicator really needs replacing and the bodywork is tatty (and that’s being kind). The body is straight enough, but needs some love and a coat of paint to make it worthy of a daily drive.

I have a set of nice 15″ 5 spoke alloys and some 60mm lowering springs to go on once the paint is sorted.

MOT April 2002

Fucking arse.

It needs some welding and a lower arm for the MOT, as well as the headlight (which i knew about). I am starting to think that maybe i don’t have the skills to finish this car, and I have nowhere to put it while I do it…. fuck. 🙁

Getting the bus to work is really pissing me off so i have purchased a sweet black cav SRi on a J plate. now i have this to pay off, the Ascona is looking unlikely to be finished for a fair while…..

5/6 May 2002

Clive spannered away all weekend on my vehicle……

Decided to change the rear axle for a 1.8 one as the spring seats on the original axle were corroded and it’s going to be better to replace the whole thing rather than try to repair the rusty bits.


Had a moment of despair on saturday evening. The car was in bits, the arch was chopped out and the spring seats beyond repair. I felt like sacking it off and spending more cash on my black Cavalier rather than carrying on with the Ascona…. this feeling passed when a kind fella from the OMOC offered me a free axle and Clive did an amazing job of the arch repair!

I have learned a shitload this weekend, all the front suspension and steering has been apart so i now know which bits are which and what they do. I am wanting to learn to weld now, there are many things I could do then – as well as fixing my car(s)….

Discovering that placed to store cars are either non-existent or expensive. Why is space a commodity to be sold these days? There are so many empty spaces around, why can’t I put my car on one?

The car looks phat now, needs some paintwork and the axle then it should pass its MOT. Whay!

12 May 2002

John from the Manta Owners club kindly brought the 1.8 axle over to my place yesterday, we went and got stuffed at Rock City :biggrin:
(BTW, axles are fucking heavy….)

Clive showed this morning after a few hours sleep and we got stuck into changing the axle over. New brakes were fitted too, no Manta or Ascona ones to be had so Astra van ones fitted. Cleaned the axle up and hammerited the spring cups to prevent a repeat of the corrosion on the original….. handbrake all sorted out too.

Bit of welding on drivers rear box section done. Had a wicked time today burning around in Clives red beast of a Manta, also well satisfying working on my motor and seeing such a difference within a week!


MOT June 2002

Fucking double bastard arse.

Took The Shed for MOT again after doing all the work, it turns out there are different things wrong with it now! One of the brake pipes burst under test, a really good job that didn’t happen while I was driving it. The cut and shut exhaust is catching on the chassis and pulling itself apart, so I need a new one 🙁

There are split pins missing from all the front suspension – not a big job to fix, but a bit scary they are missing!

Back to the spanners…….

December 2002

I have decided to get the pesky amount of work needed done at a proper garage and get it driven! Got a standard exhaust from the motorist discount, some (wrong) pads and Goodridge hoses from Proven Products.

Apart from the flat battery, it was ok and started up fine 😀

My mate JB drove it down to the garage with me following in the Cavalier, the low ass Opel looks awesome on the road, I could see people pointing and staring as it burned past. The new style number plates set it off nicely.

Starting to think about bodywork now, smoothing everything possible off ie locks, fuel flap, ariel, rear door handles.

One of the alloys from the Cavalier is buckled, so bigger rims may be procured…..

MMM thinking of leather seats again now.

Hassle getting caliper repair kit/seals. Nobody knows what an Opel Ascona is, so getting brakes is being impossible until I go to Transco. Reconditioned calipers (by AMK) are invested in along with hard as nails Mintex 1144 pads. Progress again.


July 2003
MOT at long last! Taxed and insured and I’m on the road with it after 18 months. It’s a cool drive, but really thirsty when driven on the second choke of the carb!

July 2003
Off to Billing show in the beast! Yay!

It was one of 5 Opel Asconas there, we got em all parked up together for a photo opportunity. 😀


Behaved fine on the run down, it was really hot but everything was cool. Had my first Oldskool convoy on the motorway!

Sold the Cavalier SRi – decided to go with the Opel.

Drive to Wales in the Ascona without trauma. Radiator bursts while in the Welsh mountains, end up filling the rad from various lakes to get home. Partco in Bangor have the correct radiator delivered next day! Fill Ascona with luggage, chairs etc and have a good thrash on the way home.

August 2003
I started rubbing a wing down and now its turned into deciding to take it off the road for a couple of weeks for smoothing and respraying. Rear handles, passenger door lock smoothed. Bumpers removed. All the trim pins down the sides removed/filled. Infinite amounts of sanding. Find out that the front valance is actually all metal (phew). Getting to work on my bike. Must finish car soon.


September 2003

Spend untold amounts of time sorting bodywork and got Edley to finish it and spray it. Drive to my first lesson at college in the freshly painted beast!


May 2004

Sorted clear front repeaters out by fitting orange bulbs and removing the orange plastic insert from the headlight unit… the original steelies are back on as the alloys are bent, and the tyres are bald :O

Speed bumps on my road are a pain in the arse!