COSSIE ASCONA 400
Replica rally racer with a YB!
The car world is littered with examples of stunning engineering solutions, expertise and clever thinking, and we could fill the entire magazine by listing our favourite engines and car combinations. Picking and choosing the perfect blend of engine, car and transmission really is something of an art, and certainly not something to be taken lightly. There’s also another factor at play here, and that’s pre-set rules – often very strict and uncompromising rules – dictate what engines should be bolted into certain cars. C20LET into Corsa? No problem. C20LET into RS Turbo (yep, one exists)? All hell breaks loose. We can understand how some purists hate the idea of mixing Vauxhall and Ford, but we also can’t escape the idea that being so against combining the two means they run the risk of missing out on some truly special machines.
This Ascona is, as you’ve probably already gathered, is one such car. From the outside it looks like a regular 400 replica, the kind of car that ordinarily has an XE or a C20LET ‘up front,’ but peek beneath the bright green bonnet of this example and you’ll spot something rather different – a Cosworth YB. This is an engine
that should need no introduction, though it’s probably worth a brief recap of its illustrious motorsport history. Cosworth took a Pinto block and chucked their entire engineering might behind the project, emerging a short while later with a turbocharged 2.0 DOHC that subsequently enabled the Group A Sierras to utterly dominate touring car racing for a good portion of the ‘80s. It is, in short, one of the best four cylinder engines ever built, and putting it in something like an Ascona B is a recipe for hilarity.
“I just wanted a way to get cheap, reliable power into the car,” explains the car’s owner and builder, Glenn Robinson when pressed about his choice of engine. “OK so a YB is more expensive than some engines, but it’s certainly a lot more reasonable than a Millington Diamond.”
The Ascona part of the equation was something that Glenn had been working on for quite some time, right from the time he first set eyes on a 400R when he was just sixteen years old. A suitable car was eventually acquired but the work required to get it back on the road was slow and frustrating, taking many years and certainly testing his patience. Luckily salvation arrived in a rather unlikely fashion just over three years ago, when Glenn’s friend and fellow Ascona nut Brian Murphy opted to sell his immaculate rolling shell for a very good price.
“He’d made sure the shell was in pretty much spotless condition, there really wasn’t any welding that needed doing,” explains Glenn. “He was only selling it as he’d been offered a genuine Ascona 400 and needed to find a way of financing it.”
A suitable shell now sorted, Glenn began working on bagging himself a
suitable YB lump, eventually managing to net an engine and T5 gearbox from a certain well known online auction site. Of course making the entire Ford drivetrain (including Atlas axle) from a late ‘80s Ford saloon fit a mid ‘80s Opel coupe took a fair bit of work and more than a little head scratching, and Glenn eventually sent the whole shell off to be professionally prepared and strengthened. The list of work undertaken was extensive and eventually ran to the diff and transmission tunnels (both needed to be widened), the exhaust recesses, and the hard points for the imposing roll cage. You’re probably spotting that, despite Glenn’s original intentions, the Ascona was becoming more and more like a full-fat competition machine, something only accentuated when he had the rear end five-linked, the front suspension turrets raised for extra travel, and the front crossmember re-mounted and strengthened, just like on the original 400 WRC machines.
“It honestly was just going to be a straight up road car,” explains Glenn with a chuckle. “It only changed to a competition car with an MoT when I realised there’d be just no way I could really use it to its full potential anywhere on the public road, certainly not without losing my license!”
This slight shift in focus really did open up the floodgates for a barrage of motorsport orientated modifications, with the semi-floating axle treated to a ZF LSD and mated to the YB via a custom two piece prop, alloy (Ford) hubs, and some seriously impressive brakes. The fronts