After her stay at Marlinspike Hall, Bianca Castafiore proceeded on her South American Tour. She was to perform in Tapiocapolis, the capital of San Theodores when news arrived of her arrest in a terrorist conspiracy. The dictator of San Theodores, General Tapioca had accused her of hatching a plot against his government at a Western European location where she had been staying before her departure to Tapiocapolis. The Government of San Theodores accused Tintin, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus of conspiring against him. However, he offered a round table negotiation with the trio at Tapiocapolis. After a long series of interactions and accusations through media Captain Haddock accepted the invitation and proceeded to San Theodores with Professor Calculus. Unfortunately this is the beginning of Tintin’s last adventure, “Tintin and the Picaros”. The Illustrations of this book were my favourite because all the vehicles looked contemporary. Yes I am a 70s kid. One of the scenes depicts the aircraft carrying the duo coming in to land at Tapiocapolis and shows the traffic in the bustling city. There is a yellow car, which is an Opel Ascona.
The Ascona was a large family car (by European standards) manufactured by Opel which spawned three generations from 1970 to 1988. It was named after a lakeside resort in Switzerland. The three generations of Ascona were named rather unimaginatively as Asconas A, B and C. The care shown in “Tintin and the Picaros” is the Ascona A which was manufactured from 1970 to 1975 and was sold in the US as the Opel 1900. It was assembled in Bochum, Germany and was offered in a number of body styles like:-
- 2-door saloon
- 4-door saloon
- 3-door estate called the Voyage
The Ascona was positioned between the Opel Kadett and the Opel Rekord and was a direct competitor to the Ford Taunus. Asconas were large cars measuring 4,178 mm (164.5″) in length, 1,635 mm (64.375″) in width and 1,384 mm (54.5″) in height. They weighed in at 925 Kgs (2,039 lbs). These cars had a front engine driving the rear wheels through either a four speed manual gearbox or a three speed automatic. These were pretty successful cars with a total of 692,000 cars being sold between 1970 and 75.
The Ascona was offered with three engines in different states of tune. The first was a 1,196 cc(72.98 Cu-inch) four cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine with overhead valves producing 60 BHP at 5,400 rpm and 88 N-m (64.9 ft-lb) of torque at 3,000 to 3,800 rpm. This engine was offered in the sedans only and could push them to a top speed of 137 km/h (85 mph).
The second engine on offer was the 1,584 cc (96.66 Cu-inch) four cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine with Cam-in head (CIH) valves. The CIH was a compromise between and OHV and an Over Head Cam (OHC) wherein the camshaft was mounted next to the valves rather than above them. This engine was offered in four states of tunes generating 80 BHP at 5,200 rpm and 118 N-m (87.03 ft-lb) at 3,800 rpm; 75 BHP at 5,000 rpm and 115 N-m (84.82 ft-lb) of torque at 3,800 rpm); 68 BHP at 5,200 rpm and 108 N-m (79.66 ft-lb) at 3,400 rpm and 60 BHP at 5,000 rpm and 103 N-m (75.97 ft-lb) at 3,000 to 3,400 rpm. These engines could push the Asconas to top speeds of 155 km/h (96.31 mph), 153 km/h (95.07 mph), 145 km/h (90 mph) and 140 km/h (87 mph) respectively.
The third engine was 1,897 cc (115.76 cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine with CIH valves. This engine was offered in two states of tune which produced 90 BHP at 5,100 rpm and 146 N-m (107.68 ft-lb) of torque and 88 BHP at 4,800 rpm and 142 N-m (104.73 ft-lb) of torque at 3,400 to 3,800 rpm. These engines could push the Asconas to a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). All the cars had two valves per cylinder to handle the intake and exhaust functions. While the 1.2 litre engines were offered only in sedans, the other two engines were offered across the range. The Ascona was provided with disc brakes in front and drum brakes at the rear to handle all the power and speed from the engines.
Later in life, though not as Ascona A, the model tasted success at motorsports at the hands of Walter Rohrl who won the 1982 World Rally Championship Driver’s title in an Ascona 400 rally car.