Opel Logo, History, Latest Car Models Features & Reviews

Sewing machine manufacturer Adam Opel’s five sons were dedicated cycling fens; with others who had discovered a new mobility at the end of the nineteenth century they pedaled energetically through the German countryside on their precarious high-wheelers. Opel senior noted the trend, took advice from British cyclemakers, and started to produce a ‘safety’ cycle at his factory near ftankfurt.


Opel Logo

Carl-Jorns, Wilhelm, Heinrich, Fritz and Ludwig, however, were products of their time and could see that the gasoline-driven horseless carriage was already rumbling over the horizon. By 1898 they had bought the rights of a machine designed by an engineer from Dessau and the first Opel-Lutzmann was completed, a one cylinder 5 hp machine that could struggle up to around 12 mph.

A Paris visit brought back a contract with the French Darracq firm to import chassis to which the factory fitted bodies. Meanwhile the Opels designed and built the first of their own models, a 10/12 hp with a front engine. The Opel brothers quickly brought out new and better models, first a two-cylinder car, then in 1903 a four-cylinder model. By now Opel were firmly established in the automotive field, consolidated by the success of Fritz and Carl-Jorns’ Opel in motor racing, a sport which had recently become important for its publicity value.

Opel Lutzmann

During this first decade of the twentieth century Opel was the unchallenged leader of the German motor industry and by 1912 new modern production techniques enabled them to celebrate their 10,000th car manufactured.

Opel continued to expand into commercial vehicles and during the years leading up to World War I popularized the torpedo shape—a soft-top design showing a clean straight line in profile along the top of the hood and doors. Motor sport was not neglected and as early as 1913 an Opel produced record and race vehicles which developed up to 110 hp—and one of 260 hp. In 1918 French occupying forces broke up the Opel plant and for a few years the company had to maintain their racing activities in prewar cars. However, the Opel firm, still in the hands of the family learnt fast, mainly from visits to the United States. By 1924 Opel had installed a conveyor belt system.

opel doktorwagen

World demand changed, necessitating fewer models and higher production. Opel’s immediate answer was the 1924 Laubfrosch, a little 951 cc 12 hp Tree-frog; so called because of its reptilian green color. It became Germany’s most popular car. Meanwhile Opel’s experiments with rocket-propeled cars took them into a field that was to be further developed in wartime.

opel 1938

Opel’s phoenix-like recovery, mainly due to the Laubfrosch, captured 31 per cent of Germany’s car exports and 25 per cent of home sales and by 1928 Opel had its best-ever year, rivaling American designs and quality, although Opel’s inventive talents produced some models that bore a strong US stamp.The German automotive industry had,however’a limited market and the first shadows of the great depression could be seen. The Opel family formed a joint stock company in 1929, with General Motors of Detroit (who already had a local assembly plant) taking a large share, and becoming sole owner by 1931.


The next decade saw Opel producing three model ranges, the first appearing in 1931 when most of the other German motor companies were grinding to a standstill in the financial winter of the time. And just before US runner Jesse Owens was collecting his gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Opel launched their 1.5 liter all-steel Olympia, the 500,000th car to emerge from their works. That same year saw the new Kadett (a model whose production plant finally ended up in the Soviet Union, becoming the Moskvich) and by 1938 the 6 cylinder Admiral was the company flagship.

After World War II the Olympia and the Kapitan rolled off the lines again within three years of occupied peace, little changed in looks from the prewar products, and a new Kadett was seen. A significant step was taken when the 5.4 liter Chevrolet V8-engined Diplomat was introduced in 1965.


The Commodore GS appeared in 1970, a high-performance six with optional fuel injection, and a year later the public saw the new Manta, Opel’s answer to the Ford Capri. Since then the too-prolific range of models of the 1970s (which included a Kadett which later became the foundation for an entire new generation of GM small cars to be made around the world) has been fined down and today’s top car is the Opel Monza GSE 3.0E, a 3 liter fuel-injected straight-six with an available 180 bhp. Its maximum of 132 mph may be a little over the top, but its 5-speed gearing means that 70 mph is maintained at a sleepy 2,700 rpm. The car typifies the startling GM improvements that have been made, particularly in Germany and Britain during the past decade.


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