Opel Automobile GmbH, Germany

Opel Automobile GmbH, Germany

Opel Germany


January 21, 1862; 155 years ago
Adam Opel

Rüsselsheim am Main, Hesse, Germany


Opel Automobile GmbH is a German automobile producer, established on January 21, 1862. Opel is a subsidiary of the French automobile manufacturer Groupe PSA since 1 August 2017. In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to acquire Opel from General Motors. The company designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes Opel-branded City car, Supermini, Small family car, Large family car, Full-size car, Luxury vehicle, Sports car, MPV, Off-road vehicle, Sport utility vehicle, Commercial vehicle, Pick-up truck and vehicle parts for distribution in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Vehicles designed and manufactured by Opel are also sold under the Vauxhall brand in Great Britain, the Buick brand in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China and the Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand. In 1862, Adam Opel founded the Opel company as the sewing machine manufacturer.

The company began manufacturing bicycles in 1886 and produced its first automobile in 1899. In 1929, General Motors took a majority stake in Opel and Opel became a share-limited company. General Motors assumed full control in 1931. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Vauxhall and Opel ranges were rationalised into one consistent range across Europe.



1862 - 1920 :

In 1862, Opel was founded as a sewing machines producer in a cowshed in Rüsselsheim. In 1886, Opel began to sell high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings. The production of high-wheel bicycles soon exceeded the production of sewing machines. Adam Opel died in 1895 and at that time he was the leader in both markets. In 1899, first car produced when Opel's sons entered into a partnership with Friedrich Lutzmann, a locksmith at the court in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt, who had been working on automobile designs for some time. Opel's sons signed a licensing agreement in 1901 with the French Automobiles Darracq France to manufacture vehicles under the brand name "Opel Darracq". These cars were made up of Opel bodies mounted on Darracq chassis, powered by two-cylinder engines.

The first cars of Opel were showed in the Hamburg Motor Show in 1902 and production of the cars were stated in 1906. In 1909, the Opel 4/8 PS model, known as the Doktorwagen was produced. Its reliability and robustness were greatly appreciated by physicians, who drove a lot to see their patients, back when hard-surfaced roads were still rare. The Doktorwagen sold for only 3,950 marks, about half as much as the luxury models of its day.


1920 - 1939 :

Opel became the first German car manufacturer to incorporate a mass-production assembly line in the building of their automobiles in early 1920s. In 1924, Opel used their assembly line to produce a new open two-seater called the Laubfrosch. In 1928, Opel was the country's largest automobile exporter and had a 37.5% market share in Germany. Opel's first eight-cylinder car named as the "Regent" was introduced in November 1928. In 1935, Opel became the first German car manufacturer to produce over 100,000 vehicles a year. This was based on the popular Opel "P4" model. Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle in Germany with a self-supporting all-steel body. The car was called as the Olympia and was launched in the year 1935. In 1939, the highly successful Kapitän was introduced with the 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating and central speedometer.


1945 - 1970 :

In response to the pressing need for new trucks in a Germany struggling to rebuild, the American authorities governing Rüsselsheim granted permission to the plant to produce a 1.5-short-ton (1.4 t) truck powered by the 2.5 L Kapitän engine. Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on 15 July 1946 in the presence of U.S. Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters. The next step for Opel was the resumption of passenger car production. It might have seemed easiest to bring back the Kapitän first, since its engine was already in production for the truck, but occupation regulations restricted German civilians to cars of 1.5 L or less, which made the Olympia the obvious candidate. In 1947, production of the postwar Olympia was announced. In February and March of 1948, a GM study group came to Germany to investigate every aspect of Europe's economic situation and Opel's special problems.


1970 - Present :

By the 1970s, Opel had emerged as the stronger of GM's two European brands when Vauxhall was the third-best selling brand in Great Britain. Opel and Vauxhall had loosely collaborated before, but serious efforts to merge the two companies' operations and product families into one did not start until the 1970s - which had Vauxhall's complete product line replaced by vehicles built on Opel-based platforms - the only exception to the rule being the Bedford CF panel van, the only solely Vauxhall design which was marketed as an Opel on the Continent. Opel's first turbocharged car was the Opel Rekord 2.3 TD, first shown at Geneva in March 1984. In the 1990s, Opel was considered to be GM's cash cow, with profit margins similar to that of Toyota. On 29 February 2012, Opel announced the creation of a major alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen resulting in GM taking a 7% share of PSA, becoming PSA's second-largest shareholder after the Peugeot family. The alliance was intended to enable $2 billion per year of cost savings through platform sharing, common purchasing, and other economies of scale. In December 2013, GM sold its 7% interest in PSA for £250 million, after plans of cost savings were not as successful. Opel was said to be among Europe's most aggressive discounters in mass-market.




The first Opel logo contained the letters "A" and "O" – the initials of the company's founder, Adam Opel. The A was in bronze, the O kept in red. In 1866, Opel expanded and started to produce bicycles. Around 1890, the logo was completely redesigned. The new logo also contained the words "Victoria Blitz". In 1909, the logo was redesigned in which the new logo was much more spirited and contained only the company name Opel. In 1910, the logo was the shape of an eye, and it was surrounded by laurels, with the text "Opel" in the center. From the mid-1930s to the 1960s, passenger cars carried a ring which was crossed by some kind of a flying thing pointing to the left. The origin of the lightning in the 2012 Opel logo lies in the truck Opel Blitz which has been widely used.

By the end of the 1960s, the two forms merged, and the horizontal lightning replaced the flying thing in the ring, giving way to the basic design which is used since then with variations. In the 1964 version, the lightning with a ring was used in a yellow rectangle, with the Opel writing below. The whole logo was again delimited by a black rectangle.


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