This little Opel 1900 (Ascona A in its home market) has almost completely eluded me and my camera for several years now but for these few frames. In both instances when I spotted this car during rush hour, I heard it before I saw it. It just seemed to dart around in traffic like a wild mouse – one that didn’t want to be “caught”, not even in pixels. In fact, if I didn’t know better (and if the internet didn’t exist), I’d wonder if “Ascona” was actually German for “wild mouse”. The color of its mousy-gold paint actually doesn’t seem that far off from that of the fur of a small rodent. I had also wondered in the past if “Ascona” was a coined name, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s the name of a municipality in Switzerland.
It’s been discussed in this forum that in a less-imperfect world, the Ascona A would have been the basis of GM’s subcompact entry in the U.S. market instead of the Chevy Vega. Speaking strictly of aesthetics and not of the Vega’s self-destructive tendencies, the mini-Camaro looks of the pretty Vega hatchback really do it for me. However, as far as the notchback goes, I think I prefer the looks of this Opel 1900. The Opel’s a good-looking car in its own right, but (to me, anyway) there’s just something dorky about the Vega notchback… something seems to have been lost in translation between it and the hatchback. It’s clear which of the Vega siblings (Kammback wagon, panel delivery and hatchback) got the looks in that family.
The Opel 1900 / Ascona A has been covered fairly comprehensively in this site, so all I really intend to add to the conversation is just a few pictures of one of probably, literally only two rolling Opels I’ve seen in probably at least twenty-five years, the other being a race-prepped Manta I spotted in Flint six summers ago. With Buick having been headquartered in my hometown of Flint, Michigan for close to a century, and with Buick dealerships having been the sales outlet for Opels in the United States, I can remember one such dealership back home (the former Ken MacGillivray Buick on Averill Avenue) that was selling Isuzu Gemini-based “Buick/Opels” when I was first learning to identify makes and models of cars in the late-70’s. These days, some Buicks actually are Opels…who saw that coming in the 1970’s? The weather in the Windy City is still nice for a while, yet, so perhaps I may still have a chance this year to better capture my “wilde Maus” with my Canon, after all.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013, and Monday, July 27, 2015.
Related reading from:
- Paul Niedermeyer: Curbside Classic: 1975 Opel 1900 (Ascona) – What The Vega Could Have Been; and
- GN: Vintage Review And Commentary: 1971 Opel Ascona – The “Buick” That Should Have Been A Chevy