An Opel Ascona, Swede-ified
Summer Fling

When a car builder decides to tackle a new project, they’ll usually start with a heart full of optimism and a clear vision of how things will swiftly progress. But more often than not, big projects tend to have a mind of their own. As surprises and other unforeseen events inevitably occur, things can start to drag on.

If the momentum of the build is lost, it can be mentally crushing. And if the builder eventually runs out of perseverance, there is a risk of the project being abandoned altogether. In such situations it can be refreshing to momentarily switch focus away in order to prevent a loss of motivation.


When Christoffer Åström (Coffa as his friends like to call him) realised that the 1975 Opel Kadett GTE he had been working on had become a long-term project, he went on the look for another character-filled car that he could have fun with and actually drive during the upcoming Scandinavian summer.


Searching through the classifieds, Coffa came across another classic Opel – an A-chassis Ascona SR from 1973. A ’90s drag car with a lot of history, it was being offered for sale as a project.


Having already been purpose-built once, there was plenty of good hardware to work with.


For example, the rear axle had been upgraded with ladder bars and an adjustable Panhard rod to obtain more grip on the strip.


Having previously owned several other classic Opels, Coffa immediately saw potential in the Ascona’s details and decided he had to have it in his possession.


One of the main things that had brought him to this decision was the condition the car was in. With relatively little effort, the Opel could be made driveable again – just in time for summer. Or so he thought…


Initially, Coffa planned to concentrate on what absolutely needed to be fixed to make the car run, and maybe clean up the appearance a bit with a new paint job. But once he delved a bit deeper and looked beneath the skin of his newly-acquired Ascona, he realised that a little bit more elbow grease was needed if the car was to perform and look how he wanted it to.

Under The Knife

The car had some questionable dent repairs and also some rust damage, so immediately Coffa got to work addressing the shoddily-fixed stock bodywork and modified front facia. Once he was happy with how it  alllooked, the exterior was repainted in turquoise.


Coffa wanted the body lines to look original but still have a strong ‘modified-in-the-’80s’ kind of flavour, so matte black stripes were painted on to emphasise that look – something further enhanced by period correct front and rear spoilers.


We all know that wheels can make or break a build, but Coffa found exactly what he was looking for in a set of old school Compomotive FH500s he had actually rebuilt for his Kadett project. After test fitting them on the Ascona, he felt they fit the car’s look so well that he’d use them here instead.


Getting the wheels to fit wasn’t as easy as just bolting them on though. Firstly, the previous owner had equipped the car with a Volvo rear axle that was much wider than the original and had different bolt pattern hubs. Secondly, the front wheels fouled on the inside wheel wells when full steering lock was applied.


Weighing up his options, Coffa decided to shorten the rear axle and change out the hubs, then fabricate more room in the front wheel tubs in order to make the Compomotives fit inside stock fenders. Over-fenders might have been an easier fix, but Coffa is of the opinion that they wouldn’t have suited the ethos of the Ascona.


Just like the rear axle, the Volvo powertrain was already swapped in when Coffa purchased the car. As you’d expect, living in Sweden, Volvo parts are plentiful, so it’s easy to understand why this B23 conversion was made rather than trying to realise the same level of performance with the Opel’s old factory engine.


For Coffa, it was simply a case of refining the setup, and with stronger internals, ARP bolts and a reworked cylinder head, there was certainly a solid foundation to work with.


To make the car more streetable, the Ascona’s existing turbo system required a bit of an overhaul. To achieve a faster spool-up, Coffa opted for a Garrett GT3076R with a custom exhaust manifold, and rerouted the intercooler pipes.


As it sits now, the turbo B23 sends 302 horsepower to the rear wheels on 1.2bar (17psi) pressure boost (also the base setting for street), running on regular 95 octane pump fuel.


To add more stiffness to the chassis and protection for occupants seated in Cobra Monaco Pro buckets, the Ascona has a full rollcage installed.


Being a drag car in its former life, the Opel was missing many of the vital instruments needed in a streeter, so Coffa made a custom gauge cluster with tachometer and shift light taking centre stage.

Future Plans

Coffa tells me he has more plans for perfecting the car, and future upgrades include switching from the current 4-speed Volvo M45 gearbox to a stronger ZF unit borrowed from a BMW.


To keep himself busy during the long winter break, he’s also going to set the engine up for more boost. Because you can never have too much boost, right?


“Around 450 to 500 horsepower at the wheels should not at all be impossible,” he says confidently.


Coffa wants to express his gratitude to his friends, who, as a complete surprise, constructed the engine wiring loom and repainted the engine compartment while he was recovering from a back injury.


With all the help, the Ascona was rebuilt in just three months – just in time for summer as Coffa had originally hoped.


To achieve something like this in such a short time is a real credit to everyone involved. If this is what can be achieved in 90 days, Opel fans the world over will surely be eager to see how Coffa works his magic on his other project…

Toni Yläranta
Instagram: toniviikinki

Photos by Peter Kelly
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey

Cutting Room Floor


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Great project car, reminds me of a Datsun 510 for some reason.They did a great job!

Must be pretty fast. RWD, 302 hp and weight under 1000 kgs? Sounds dangerous!


Oh cool, a Holden Torana... no wait, a mk 1 Ford Escort...wait its a Isuzu Gemini / Kadett ... this car is a mashup of other rad cars in one!!  Never seen this, ever!!




@jay Best part about these cars is that they are cheap!


@jay so cool, needs more rotary influence to finish the combo off


This is like opposite to when Russia got the Fiat 124 and made it worse...  it's Australia who got the Ascona and made it better - Torana...


That's a really cool car, love the paint and the wheels are perfect!


StreetStatik The Torana is a great car. Having seen alot of them in NZ back in the day, it was nice to shoot this Opel though for something different.


Peter_Kelly StreetStatik ok Todd Wylie calm down, I thought it was more r32 skylines, DX Corollas and A31 Cefiros.
I love what you're doing with speedhunters mate, solid work, your photography skills seem to have doubled since taking the new position.


Love the paint job, first photo looked like a Falcon GTHO! Really nice




love this car and that its built for fun!  front end is Torana-esque.  great article!


Now I've got bad/good ideas for the Ascona languishing in my garage.


I hope he doesn´t change the exterior too much as this is one gorgeous opel. I hope you do a future feature about an ascona caravan that is ripping up finnish dragstrips.


Wow.. kinda sets me to buy a nearby Corolla ke70 daily beater. (would prefer a 510 if they were around, but they are'nt)
This Ascona thing is pretty awesome, I have never come across one


It might not be a Mantra, but it has that group B look all the same. Super Cool!!


Janne Koskinen Sounds interesting, will have to look further into that one!


Mahfoodh KE70s are great fun to drive! - 4AGE, some decent suspension and a diff and you're away.


Props for NOT putting some overfenders there :)


Nice Opel. Love the RWD Opels, but why is a Volvo Engine in this Car? ( I did't have some thinks against volvo Engines but a C20let engine have more Potential in my eyes


Stefan82 I guess they have lots of those Volvo engines in Scandinavia.


RacingPast Stefan82 
Indeed! Had it been a german car, a C20let would probably make a lot more sense.
B23 can also be used with 16v head (b234), and have a bigger selection of gearboxes.
I think you are pretty much limited using the R25 from omega to use the C20let now, as Manta 1800 parts are becoming extremely hard to find.


@jay I see lots of Datsun 510 / Nissan Bluebirb as well as BMW 2002 influence in this, very cool.


Never been a fan of Opels (despite being a Vauxhall trained mechanic), apart from the Manta, but this is real nice. Clean, well thought out and extremely well presented. Looks like fun to drive too!!

A Volvo engine would hurt the purest out there but is much more reliable long term. C20LET is a lovely engine and would suite it well but being an ex-vauxhall technician I know how unreliable they can be, especially when the bhp figures start creeping upwards of standard


"I want you to go in that car, and find my steering wheel"

"Which one is it?"

"It's the one that says 'Bad Motherfucker.'"


TylerHorne Haha yes!


That's one Bad MotherfSTARking car


Really nice car...


StreetStatik Peter_Kelly im putting an opel badge on my holden commodore because why have an addition symbol when you can have a lightning bolt


That car looks familiar :D
I have an Ascona too..  a lovely car


@Thomas Nice, looks very clean!


Love the car, such a fun platform to build on, lots of potential if you are willing to take some risks and be a little unconventional.

Of course, I am being biased, and maybe a little nostalgic even. Makes me miss our old Ascona project.



TylerHorne you read my mind


Nice to see you like my Ascona. / Coffa


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