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Initial design & development work on the GM U Car programme by Opel -  The original Opel Ascona & Manta A was one of the last car programmes to be designed under Opel Design Director Henry Haga, in 1970 Haga returned to GM Design in Detroit and was replaced by David Holls. Almost simultaneously, one of Opel’s Assistant Design Directors, Ed Taylor, left to become Director of Design at Vauxhall in Luton replacing David Jones who had retired early. The GM U Car programme started in Russelsheim during the early part of 1971 with the aim of moving the Ascona into direct competition with the Ford Taunus. To achieve this the car was 3.5ims longer, 1ins wider and a wheelbase stretched by 3.35ins. A wide range of engines was planned to be carried over with little change from the previous model along with the same transmission options. A 2-door coupe was included to replace the popular Manta but there were no plans for a direct replacement for the slow selling Ascona Caravan estate. Exports to the US market were initially planned, where Opel models were sold through Buick dealers, but dropped in 1973 for the new cars. From 1975 onwards the Opel cars sold by Buick would be rebadged Isuzu models built in Japan. Prototypes were evaluated by Holden in Australia but found the car to be unable to cope with conditions down under without some serious chassis modifications and, in any event, they were already covering the U car’s sector of the market with their own similarly styled design – the LH Holden Torana - launched in 1974. So, from 1973 onwards the U Car was a Europe only programme, with styling that followed general GM worldwide design trends except for the front end of the new Manta which was planned to use a very Vauxhall influenced “droop snoot” with the addition of 2 oblong vents. 

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