Both the Ascona and the Manta 400 have become indelibly linked with Retropower over the course of the last decade or so, a span of time that’s seen us grow to become one of the ‘go to’ places for those seeking to scratch their Group 4 Opel itch. Curt Pattinson was the very first though, and his XE’d Ascona B 400 replica has become something of a showcase for the kind of work we’re capable of producing here, and all this despite it now being a full 7 years old.

Curt’s Ascona project came about thanks to a long standing fixation with Opels of all kinds, a passioned shared by most of the Retropower staff. The fact that we’re also huge fans of Russelheim metal helped convince Curt to entrust us with the build, and thus began the very first Retropower, ground-up restoration.

We were aided by Curt’s willingness to get his hands dirty from the very beginning, meaning the shell which arrived at Retropower HQ in 2010 was ready to be put onto the jig, then sent for a media-blasting session. This revealed a degree of rot (it is an Opel from the late ’70s, remember), much of it centred around the inner wing and the bottom of the A-panel. We fabricated the latter from scratch, partly to ensure that the work was done correctly, partly as sourcing OEM replacements is a chore akin to counting hen’s teeth! Fresh steel was also added to the jacking points, floor pans and the Ascona’s infamous ‘swan neck’ chassis rails, both of which were made from scratch.

There’s more involved in turning a ‘bread and butter’ two-door Ascona into a 400 replica, which is why we found ourselves widening the front and rear arches to better accommodate the 9x15in Revolution wheels, and also replacing the roof skin in order to remove the sunroof on Curt’s car. The icing on the cake? The 400 bodykit and coat of Polar White paint of course.

The XE, complete with QED direct-to-head throttle bodies and MBE management, was paired with an Omega gearbox and five-linked Salisbury 4HA axle, a setup not a million miles from the one Opel devised for the ‘real’ 400s. It’s proved more than up to the task in the intervening years.

As we already touched upon, Curt’s Ascona build was effectively genesis as far as ground-up Retropower builds are concerned and we’re proud to say it still looks utterly stunning a full 7 years on from its original completion. Get in touch if you’d like us to build you something similar.


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  • […] By Callum’s own admission, things started slowly. There was the buying and selling of cars and also some general repairs. Panel replacement, MOT prep, rust repairs, that sort of thing. It was work that kept the lights on, but it wasn’t anything like what Callum, Nathaniel and the team are knocking out today. That soon changed though, with the arrival of an Opel Ascona. […]