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Irmscher Opel Corsa Spider and Ascona Cabrio: Wild 1980s: Two Opels without a roof

Herzog, Frank
Irmscher Opel Corsa Spider and Ascona Cabrio
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There were times when it was quite common for car customers to be robbed of their secure roof and when Commissioning the body cutter to convert the sedan or coupé into a convertible.

As long as there was still a stable chassis, that wasn't too much of a problem technically, but with the self-supporting bodies, the automotive revelation for fresh air lovers became increasingly tricky. In the eighties, however, some specialists were not deterred by this - after all, convertibles were less well represented in the manufacturers' model ranges at the time than they are today.

Using rough tools to tackle the body

That left the walk to the couturier who does not work with fine fabrics for clothing, but rather heavy fabric for the top and first tackles the body with rough tools. At the traditional company Irmscher in the Swabian town of Remshalden, which grew up as an Opel tuner and developed into an automobile manufacturer, a considerable small series was even produced in the eighties: Based on the Opel Corsa, Irmscher built the Irmscher Corsa Spider called i130, of which more than 1,000 units were built were manufactured. Sedans transformed into convertibles were definitely an issue in the eighties. Therefore Irmscher also developed an open version of the Opel Ascona. The two prototypes presented here belong in the truest sense of the word to the Irmscher family.

'This Irmscher Corsa Spider was driven by my sister Birgit for a long time', remembers Günther Irmscher Junior, the boss of the traditional company. The Irmscher Ascona convertible also has its place in family life. The prototype was driven by Elfriede Irmscher, the wife of the company founder Günther Irmscher.

With its small, button-down hood, the Irmscher Corsa Spider not only demonstrates uncompromising openness, it also shows its international past. Because an Irmscher team installed the body reinforcements necessary for converting the convertible directly in the Opel plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The primed limousines were then delivered to Remshalden near Stuttgart and converted into the Irmscher Corsa Spider in the Irmscher factory. In addition - depending on the customer's wishes - there were various bodywork add-on parts. For example, a chunky front apron and a radiator grille painted in body color with an i-emblem and round onesDouble headlights and a rear apron.

The Irmscher Corsa Spider could be ordered from any Opel dealer, and advertisers in contemporary brochures cheered that the small open car was a happy splash of color in everyday automotive life. The Irmscher Corsa Spider was available with all engines of the normal Corsa. The highlight was finally the 1.3-liter with an injection system developed by Irmscher and 83 HP, which made the Irmscher Corsa Spider - according to the brochure - a 'real wind bride'.

The smallest car with an electronic injection system

'At that time the Irmscher Corsa Spider was the smallest car on the market with an electronic injection system,' remembers Irmscher technician Alfred Fox. Compared to the only 60 hp series engine, this meant a substantial increase. Even today, the engine is still a joy - especially since the sports exhaust of the Irmscher Corsa Spider ensures the right acoustics. The mighty aluminum shift gate of the four-speed gearbox, as if milled from solid, makes the shifting operations clack in the prototype and attracts attention - however, it was not available in the production model. As a convertible, the Irmscher Corsa Spider was uncompromising.

As with a classic roadster, its convertible top had to be attached to a frame. To do this, the dainty convertible top compartment was first folded back and a roll bar was set up, which, however, did not have this function. Additional rods behind the seats and above the side windows were necessary to fix the convertible top of the Irmscher Corsa Spider. Towards the end of production in 1987, a hardtop was even available, but with its angular shape it gave the Irmscher Corsa Spider the elegance of a tool shed.

Irmscher also developed a prototype version of the Irmscher Corsa Spider with a folding roof can be seen today in the museum of the Swabian car manufacturer. However, the Ascona, which Irmscher had converted into a convertible, was not able to enjoy series production like the Irmscher Corsa Spider. The prototype shown was made in Remshalden, but the work involved in the numerous reinforcements in the body was considerable.

Distance to the Biedermanns series outfit

Series production of the Irmscher Ascona Cabrio would not have paid off from Irmscher's point of view - although it was seriously considered. The neat one-off piece was by no means sidelined. Irmscher's wife Elfriede used the four-seater Irmscher Ascona convertible when the weather was nice. However, this cannot have been too often, because the one-off only has 1,200 kilometers on the counter. This may also be due to the fact that the Irmscher Ascona Cabrio is equipped with the same engine as the Corsa Spider. The 83 hp 1.3 liter does not exactly mean a lively engine for the large convertible. If you want to get ahead quickly in the Irmscher Ascona Cabrio,has to force the four-cylinder to high revs, but that doesn't really go with the relaxed convertible drive.

Irmscher has discreetly pepped up the interior of the series Ascona. In addition to the sports steering wheel, the large sports seats, which are provided with a plush cover, stand out. With this, the eighties come back to life in their typical form - as well as in the bone-dry rectangular design of the clock panel, in which some operating levers peek out of the deep black like a liquorice candy. The leather upholstery on the instrument panel of the Irmscher Ascona Cabrio also creates a distance to the standard outfit of the honest man - although the elegant gray now looks more like synthetic leather. Not only with this, the two Irmscher convertibles show how the taste of cars has changed over the past 20 years. They also represent a time when you could still go to a specialist for a convertible.


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