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Discussion Starter #1
My aunt who is now in her mid-70s is a hoarder and her home is full of stuff. And so is her garage. Underneath all of that stuff is a 1975 Ascona Sportwagon that she was driving until 1985 when she bumped into someone at a stop. The car seemed ok but she'd actually cracked the plastic cooling fan and it broke a few weeks later. Getting Opel parts was tough back then so she parked it in the garage....and it's been there ever since.

If I get it out from its grave of stuff on top of it and probably in it, getting it started would be good to try but I'm not really a mechanic....this would be my first shot at anything. Yes, I know I have to swap out the fuel, get a new battery, find the car keys (not sure about that one) and hope the engine isn't completely frozen. And it's an automatic. The single year of fuel injection makes it tricky.

But this group knows Opels. And my father (my aunt's brother) had a Kadett in the late 60s before he untimely passed away in 1969 so I have some more motivation to get this running. I remember driving with him in that Kadett when I was 3-4 years old.

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Opeler
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Good luck. I love (always have since they came out) the 1900 Sport wagon (Ascona). I had a friend in Colorado Springs who had one in the '80's. He drove it everywhere. It was that gold color, too.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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If it has been in the garage all that time, it very likely is in great shape for rust. It sounds like is has great potential! Steps to take in rough order. (Some of this is simple mechnical thing stuff, and others are a little more involved but none are anything that someone with decent tool skills can't do. But it is not a few hours of work so you need a place to work on the car.)

Basic engine and cooling system:
  • If you plan to keep the car, then go on eBay or elsewhere and buy a '74 Opel service manual (grey colored) and a '75 Opel Supplement service manual (purple).
  • Remove spark plugs and put about a teaspoon full of Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder. Let that set for a few days or more. This is to try to free up any stuck piston rings.
  • If the fan broke, then the engine side of radiator needs examined for a blade cutting a tube in the radiator.
  • If there are signs that the fan contacted the radiator, then the water pump ought to be taken out and the back of the water pump housing examined to make sure that the fan and pump shaft did not push the water pump's impeller backwards and grind into the housing. If it did, then coolant could have gone into the oil and the engine could be damaged. (Seen that happen before in these cars.)
  • With the rad hoses and fan belts off and plugs out, then put a 19 mm box end wrench on the bolt on the front end of the crankshaft, at the pulley. (This can take some contortions). Try to turn the engine CW as looking towards the back of the car. If it is free, it ought to turn easily. If it does, then you can proceed with some confidence that the engine is going to run in some fashion.
  • If rad and pump are all OK or fixed, then install all new heater and radiator hoses and thermostat and fan belts and intake air filter. The '75 has unique hoses to/from the radiator and a different heater hose layout and different thermostat.
  • New coolant put in if all is OK. There is a procedure to get all the air out but that can be discussed when you get to that point.
  • Draining the oil in prep for an oil and oil filter change; as the plug is being removed, you pull it out just a bit and make sure only oil comes out, not water/coolant.
  • Put in new oil and filter; make sure the oil is a type that has adequate ZDDP. ZDDP in oil is a topic you need to learn about with this older engine. An oil additive called ZDDP had its % content reduced by EPA mandate starting in 2004/2005 and the lifters and cams of some older type engines got ruined. There are oils out there with adequate ZDDP and that topic has been discussed here multiple times, as well as other car sites.
Fuel system first steps:
  • Pull the gas tank and drain, inspect for rust inside, and clean. Rust treat is needed. No other good way to do this. for fuel that old, every drop needs to come out.
  • Put in tank and new fuel filter which is back by the tank. Put in fresh non-ethanol fuel. Before doing anything else, some electrical system work is needed.
Electrical system first steps:
  • Examine the battery location for bad rust or corrosion. Go inside the car, under the dashboard on the driver's left side, and examine the fuse box and the wiring there. Get new battery obviously and clean the battery terminals. Connect battery and look for smoke! See if the dome light works and then try the headlights and parking lights. If OK, then so far so good.
  • Disconnect the connector on the side of the air flow meter; this will keep the fuel pump from running. (We can discuss that when you get there.) Turn on the key and check for other electrical items like radio, heater fan, generator idiot light glowing red, etc
Fuel and electrical system next steps:
  • The next step will be to get the FI system checked out and do the frist test cranking of the engine. At this point, I will stop writing, and that can be picked up when you get that far. But you are getting cose at this point to trying to start the engine. (BTW, I have a '75 and restored the Bosch Jetronic FI system top to bottom.)
Other important areas:
  • Brake system checks and renewal. After sitting that long, you should assume that entire brake system needs to be renewed. Brake fluid absrobs moisutre and will rust things internally, the soft (rubber) brake lines will rot out internally, and so on.
  • Checks for other leaks.
  • Changeout of rear axle and trannie fluids.
If you get stuck hard and we can't help enough online, you have a resources near the Nashville area. hrcollinsjr is nearby, as well as opelspyder who runs a restoration shop (in Crossville, IIRC).
 

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That was a very helpful write up Manta R. wrote. It should be a blueprint to anyone who is reviving a car that has been sitting for a long while.
It looks like you have found a very nice Opel wagon in good condition.
Congratulations! Lots of fun ahead.
Harold has been very helpful to me in the past and there’s lots of people here who are glad to help.

I wouldn’t skip anything on the last post, it will save you A LOT of headaches.
Hopefully the water pump and it’s surrounding areas at the engine will be fine.
The two areas Manta R. mentions that stand out one is the gas tank. He has revived a few in his day and can guide you through that, if I had a nickel for every post I’ve seen on rough running engines traced back to the gas tank I’d be rich. I urge you not to skip it. The other notorious area on the Opels are the rear wheel cylinders on the brakes. If you’re replacing the pads just replace them, they will leak. I’ve never had any problems throughout the life of the pads, it’s been just SOP with me on a rear brake job and should be in the service manuals but isn’t.
The engines are pretty tough, if you follow the guidelines on the last post it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it runs well.
In addition, just do the obvious tune up proceedures new plugs wires, distributor cap, rotor etc. check the fluid levels in the transmission & rear end differential all covered in the service manuals previously mentioned. Best of luck and I hope you continue to find good things as you explore your new found treasure.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well this is an amazing checklist. Thank you Manta and Cub for your remarks, expertise and wisdom. I've been speaking about the project to my cousin currently living in Germany. He's an old British car buff having restored a 1968 MGB GT although he thinks his MGB was an easier project. I'm not so sure....I remember what his car was like unrestored, but in his defense, it did run.

First order of business is just getting it out from under the junk pile that has accumulated over the last decades. Even though its been shielded from the elements all this time, I'm worried about rodents that may have been living in it (or are living in it now!). There is some surface rust but we can deal with it later. Engine and drivetrain are the biggest learning curve right now. I'll report in when I learn more about it including the interior and getting under the hood.

Finally, I have no idea where this is going to go or how long it will take. I'm not a mechanic although I do have a few wrench sets to work with. I know basic engine operation but it's not like I've ever used that knowledge hands on. I'm looking at this more as a hobby where I can learn.
 

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Detritus Maximus
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The first spots to check for rust are the jacking points and the front frame rails from the jacking points and where the suspension subframe arm bolts to the frame rail.
Ten years in Nashville still might have been enough for rust to get a foothold.
 
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Opel Rallier since 1977
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OP, if you are willing to learn and ask, this seems like a pretty good bunch to stick with you for help. Lots of good learning going on here...

Any mice could have chewed on wires and such; besides the mess, that is the biggest concern. Next concern would be getting into the air inlet box and airflow meter area and heater box, making nests. Then they could even go up the tailpipe and make a nest LOL. So taking a good look for that type of nesting and damage is an easy first-order-of-business. If you find any wiring damage, then a different order of getting the electrical system checked out is needed, where you isolate sections and 'fire them up' one at a time. (Hmmm... 'fire them up' may be the wrong term!)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OK, gray and purple service manuals have been secured from eBay. Thanks for the first tips everyone. I have a lot of reading to do, then schedule an cleanup and inspection at my aunt's house. Digging the car out of the pile of crap is the first order of business and it won't be easy.
 

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Good deal... being in dry storage for so long hopefully means you have a good solid chassis to work with. Glad to see you working to save this car! I'd be very happy to find one like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Good deal... being in dry storage for so long hopefully means you have a good solid chassis to work with. Glad to see you working to save this car! I'd be very happy to find one like that.
According to your list, I'll need a proper wrench, extender and 13/16 deep socket to deal with the spark plugs, Which means I'll need to secure the proper tools for that. The manual speaks about 30 ft/lbs to torque the plugs....since I have no experience I think I'll need a torque wrench and not do this by feel.

And the gray shop manual just broke at the spine (old book). Where is my duck tape...?
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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LOL.. one of my FSM's is bound by binder clips for the same reason. I might eventually 3-hole-punch it and put it in a binder.

Yes, if you are new to this stuff and don't have a feel for torques, that would be a good idea. I'd start with a simple, low cost beam type of torque wrench for things like spark plugs. The usually come on 3/8" socket drive types up to 50 ft lbs, and then 1/2" socket drive types up to 150 ft-lbs. (And tiny ones for a very few items like auto trans band adjustments.... most folks don't get those.)

To pull the plugs, use a socket, extension, and a breaker bar. A lot of this Opel stuff tends to be smaller than American car stuff of that era, and can be handled with 3/8" drive sockets. So a 3/8" drive socket set with extensions, rachet, and breaker bar is a good investment for you, IMHO. Then a set of metric combination wrenches and the ususal set of screwdrivers, pliers, etc.

Welcome to the world of skinned knuckles! Hopefuly, you wil take to this like a duck to water...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Tomorrow is a day for getting the car out from under stuff and hopefully start taking inventory of what’s what. If I manage to get the hood open, I’ll try to see if the radiator is damaged in any way. Hopefully no rodents are living in it.
 
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