Adam Opel AG
Type Aktiengesellschaft
Founded January 21, 1862
Founder(s) Adam Opel
Headquarters Adam Opel Haus
, Germany
Number of locations 11 manufacturing facilities in 6 countries
Area served Europe, Middle East/Africa, Asia/Pacific
Key people
  • Walter G. Borst
  • Karl-Friedrich Stracke
Industry Automotive
Products Automobiles
Production output 1,178,157 units (2010)
Services Financial services
Revenue (turnover) 11 billion (2010)
Employees 40,458 (2010)
Parent General Motors Company
Subsidiaries Opel Performance Center
Opel Special Vehicles

Opel's main portal and site building in Rüsselsheim near the train station in front of the statue of the founder, Adam Opel

Adam Opel AG[1] is a German automobile company founded by Adam Opel in 1862.[2] Opel has been building automobiles since 1899, and became an AG in 1929. In late 2005, the company was transformed into a GmbH (PLC).

The company is headquartered at the Adam Opel Haus in Rüsselsheim, and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Company since 1929.

Opel has announced that it will invest around 11 billion Euros in the next five years. One billion of that is designated solely for the development of innovative and fuel-saving engines and transmissions.



Advertisement for Opel Perfecta-Sewing Machines (1901)

The company was founded in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany on January 21, 1862 by Adam Opel. At the beginning, Opel just produced sewing machines in a cowshed in Rüsselsheim. Above all, his success was based on his perfectly customized sewing machines. Because of the quick growth of his business, in 1888 the production was relocated from the cowshed to a more spacious building in Rüsselsheim. Encouraged by success, Adam Opel launched a new product in 1886: He began to sell high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings. Besides, Opel's two sons participated in high-wheel bicycle races and thus promoted this means of transportation. Therefore, the production of high-wheel bicycles soon exceeded the production of sewing machines.[3] At the time of Opel's death in 1895, he was the leader in both markets.

The first cars were produced in 1899 after 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.[4] These cars were not very successful and so the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel's sons signed a licensing agreement with the French Automobiles Darracq S.A. to manufacture vehicles under the brand name "Opel-Darracq". These cars were made up of Opel bodies mounted on a Darracq chassis, powered by a 2-cylinder engine.

In 1901, Adam Opel separated from Lutzmann and signed a new contract with a Frenchman, Alexandre Darracq. The company first showed cars of its own design at the 1902 Hamburg Motor Show, and started manufacturing them in 1906, with Opel-Darracq production being discontinued in 1907.

In 1909, the Opel 4/8 hp model, known as the "Doctor's Car" 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 "Doctor's Car" sold for only 3,950 marks, about half as much as the luxury models of its day.

In 1911, the company's factory was virtually destroyed by fire and a new one was built with more up-to-date machinery.

By 1914, Opel had become the largest German manufacturer of motor vehicles.

In the early 1920s, Opel became the first German car manufacturer to incorporate a mass production assembly line in the building of their automobiles. In 1924, they used their assembly line to produce a new open two-seater called the "Laubfrosch". The Laubfrosch was finished exclusively in green lacquer. The car sold for an expensive 4,500 marks, (expensive considering the less expensive manufacturing process) but by the 1930s this type of vehicle would cost a mere 1,990 marks — due in part to the assembly line, but also due to the skyrocketing demand for cars. Adam Opel led the way for motorized transportation to become not just a means for the rich, but a reliable way for people of all classes to travel.

1902 Opel Darracq

1902 Opel Darracq

Opel had a 37.5% market share in Germany and was also the country's largest automobile exporter in 1928. The "Regent" — Opel's first eight-cylinder car — was offered. The RAK 1 and RAK 2 rocket-propelled cars made sensational record-breaking runs.

In March 1929, General Motors (GM), impressed by Opel's modern production facilities, bought 80% of the company, increasing this to 100% in 1931. The Opel family gained $33.3 million from the transaction. Subsequently, a second factory was built at Brandenburg for the production of "Blitz" light trucks.

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. The selling price was a mere 1,650 marks and had a 23 hp (17 kW) 1.1 L four-cylinder engine and a top speed of 85 km/h (53 mph). Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle with a self-supporting all steel body. They called it the "Olympia". With its small weight and aerodynamics came an improvement in both performance and fuel consumption. Opel receives a patent which is considered one of the most important innovations in automotive history.

1939 saw the presentation of the extremely successful, "Kapitän". With a 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating w/electric blower and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before intensification World War II brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn/Fall of 1940, by order of the government.

World War IIEdit

World War II brought to Rüsselsheim the only year in the entire history of Opel — 1945 — in which it produced no vehicles at all, since that first Lutzmann-authored Opel was made in 1899. Before the conflict broke out, the Adam Opel AG had established itself as the largest motor vehicle manufacturer in Europe. The combination of Opel know-how with GM resources had produced outstanding results. In spite of stifling red tape, the economic atmosphere in Germany in the 1930s had powerfully fertilized the growth of this and other auto companies. But in the case of Opel, at least, it was clear that the expansion of this industrial machine was not directed in any way toward military objectives.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-303-0554-24, Italien, Soldaten auf LKW Opel-Blitz

Military LKW Opel Blitz, Italy, 1944

Even after June 1940, official connections between Opel and America were not broken and monetary gain continued throughout the war which was controlled by the J.P Morgan firm, the Rüsselsheim plant was never given a major role in Germany's war preparations. Neither was Ford's plant in Cologne considered trustworthy enough for a big assignment, such as tank manufacture, in view of their earlier foreign associations. Initially, of course, it had appeared that the war would be a short one settled in Germany's favor. Auto plants were shut down, to conserve resources, but not converted to other jobs.

When in 1942 it became clearer that the fighting would go on for a while, car and truck factories were switched to war work in a modest way, Opel taking up the production of aircraft parts and tanks. Only at the Brandenburg truck plant did vehicle manufacture roar ahead at full speed. From the end of 1938 onward to big Opel Blitz trucks had been powered by the same basic 3.6 L engine used in the Admiral. To meet the growing demands of wartime, 3 short tons (2.7 t) trucks of Opel design were built under license by Daimler-Benz at the former Benz factory at Mannheim.

One of the most versatile small German military vehicles, the Kettenkrad, a curious but useful blend of tractor and motorcycle, was powered with a 1.4 L Olympia four-cylinder engine. Produced by NSU, it had motorcycle-type front-wheel steering for gentle turns and negotiated tight corners with brakes on the propelling caterpillar tracks. The Kettenkrad towed antitank guns and transported troops and signal gear in several theater of war. NSU continued to make it after the war for use in mines and forests. It was one of the few vehicles that could do jobs formerly performed by horses for which, owing to the shortage of oats, there was even less fuel available than for motor vehicles.

As the war progressed, military authorities placed greater stress on the development of air-cooled engines, which they felt had more immunity to damage from weather, shellfire and misuse. To meet this demand, Opel engineers developed an unusual variation on normal cooling for the 3.6 L truck engine. It was called "air-oil cooling," and used engine oil to take heat away from the jackets around the cylinder barrels. The heads were directly cooled by air, there being three separate aluminum finned heads, each serving two cylinders. Of this interesting engine, which developed 72 hp (54 kW/73 PS) at 3000 rpm on 74-octane fuel, only three examples were built.

Other special jobs were undertaken at the Rüsselsheim factory. One that was too exotic to be typical was the construction of an intercooler for the supercharger of the famous Junkers Juno aircraft engine. Special methods had to be developed to fabricate this vital assembly from very thin sheets of aluminum. With work like this going on, Germany's enemies naturally took note of the various Opel plants and, starting in August 1944, began visiting them by air. The resulting devastation was a tragic echo of the effects of the fire of exactly 33 years earlier. Destruction was heavy at both Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg from the attacks by Allied bombers. Never was the outlook more bleak at Adam Opel AG than in the first months of 1945.

Opel had been transformed and rebuilt before. There was very little, actually, beyond the determination of the men and women who believed in the power of the Opel idea and the 83 years over which it had been created. Many of the tools with which they once had worked were gone. The Brandenburg truck plant fell into the Russian Zone of a divided post-war Germany. It did not stay there long. All the machinery and equipment — right down to the window frames and bathroom fixtures — was dismantled and shipped to a site near the Ural mountains.

Cars as well as truck production lines were lost by Opel. As reparations for war destruction, under plans of the Allied Forces, the Soviet Union asked the Allied Military Government for the tools, jigs, dies, fixtures, and drawings for the Kadett. This, they said, they would use to begin auto production at an Opel subsidiary in Russian-occupied Leipzig. The equipment was duly delivered to the Soviets in June 1946, and that was the last Opel was to see of it — but not of the Kadett.

Just a year later a new Soviet car, the Moskvitch 400, rolled off a Moscow assembly line. It was the Opel Kadett in every detail; only the name was changed. By late 1950, the Russians were exporting these Kremlin Kadetts to Belgium, stressing in their promotion that spare parts could easily be obtained from Germany. Not until 1959 was a Moskovitch model introduced that bore no trace of Opel engineering. And by that time, Opel was just about ready to introduce a new Kadett of its own.

Only the strong resistance of the American government within whose zone of occupation Rüsselsheim was located, prevented the total dismantling of the entire Opel plant as reparations in Russia. GM had no say in these discussions and was not sure just what posture to take toward its sometime subsidiary. GM's Alfred Sloan recalled:

"(Opel) had been seized by the German government soon after the war began. In 1942 our entire investment in Opel amounted to about $35 million, and under a ruling which the Treasury Department had made concerning assets in enemy hands, we were allowed to write off the investment against current taxable income. But this ruling did not end our interest in, or responsibility for, the Opel property. As the end of the war drew near, we were given to understand that we were still considered the owners of the Opel stock; and we were also given to understand that as the owners, we might be obliged to assume responsibility for the property." It was a responsibility that Sloan and his associates weren't at all sure was worth the risk in the chaos of postwar Europe.

One resource that did not appear on the books of General Motors or on the rolls of the occupying authorities was most responsible for the recovery of Opel in 1945: the extraordinary loyalty of its workers. They were not itinerant opportunists who had looked on their work at Rüsselsheim as just another job. They were men and women who had, for the most part, come from that immediate area, many from the quiet of the country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG More important to them than their own fates was that of Opel, for its collapse would mean the loss of the most important employer for the people of Rüsselsheim who were finding their way home from the chaos of war.

Just at war's end a small skeleton crew began clearing the rubble from the plant. By May 1945, this work had advanced enough to allow the beginning of production of desperately needed Opel parts. Getting the materials for them was more dependent on barter and black markets than it was on normal sources of supply, which had all but ceased to exist.

Post World War IIEdit

After the end of the war, with the Brandenburg plant dismantled and transported to Russia, and 47% of the buildings in Rüsselsheim destroyed,[5] former Opel employees began to rebuild the Rüsselsheim plant.

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 tons (1.4 t) truck powered by the 2.5 L Kapitän engine. It was a minor miracle that even this was possible. By January 1946, the plant itself was ready to build trucks but many of the almost 12,000 parts needed to make each one were lacking. Before the big firms could begin, the small ones had to get started too. And illness and poor nutrition so crippled the staff of 6,000 workers that it was normal for 500 to be too sick to come to work and more than 400 to report sick during the day.

Overcoming these and other obstacles, Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on July 15, 1946 in the presence of U.S. Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters.[5] Priced at 6600RM, the truck was designed to run either on gasoline or on wood gas, for which a gas generator could be supplied. With a ceremonial bouquet of flowers flying from its rear-view mirror, this historic Opel Blitz left the factory gate bound for a buyer in Wiesbaden on July 26. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, and by the end of 1946 the production total was 839. Frigidaire refrigerators were also being made at Rüsselsheim, as were Olympia engines for the NSU Kettenkrad.

The next step for Opel was the resumption of passenger car production. It might have seemed easiest to bring back the Kapitan 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. Under Dr. Ing e.h. Karl Stief, who had been chief engineer at Opel since 1934, useful changes were made to this tough little car. The Dubonnet front suspension was replaced by a conventional coil-and-wishbone layout and the steering was correspondingly rearranged.

Announced in November 1947, production of the post-war Olympia, with austere painted hubcaps, began in December 1948 and allowed a modest return to export sales in that year. In October 1948, the Kapitän came back to the Opel lineup, unchanged except for such details as the shape of the headlights and improvements in the leaf springs and dampers. Prices in 1948 were 9950 DM for the Kapitan and 6785 DM for the Olympia (the Deutschmark having replaced the Reichsmark on June 20, 1948).

Other events which would powerfully affect Opel's future were taking place in 1948. In February and March, a GM study group came to Germany to investigate every aspect of Europe's economic situation and Opel's special problems. On their return they submitted a report, on March 26, recommending that General Motors resume control of Opel. On April 5, however, GM's financial policy committee concluded that "in view of the many uncertainties surrounding the operation of this property, the Corporation is not justified in resuming the responsibility for its operation at this time..." GM, it seemed, didn't want Opel.

Second thoughts on this decision leaped immediately into the minds of such executives as Alfred P. Sloan Jr., and Charles Wilson, GM's President. Later in April, Sloan sought to resolve the differences of opinion with a position paper that he hoped would set up conditions for resuming control of Opel that would put at rest the doubts of GM's more conservative financial minds.

Sloan suggested that GM take the helm of Opel again for a two-year "probationary" period to see whether the economic conditions, then called "close to stagnation" in Germany, would improve. Sloan set other important goals: "General Motors should risk no additional capital in Opel. Credit facilities should be available. We should have complete freedom in personnel policies and administration. The products produced by Adam Opel AG should be solely within the jurisdiction of management, and if prices had to be approved by government authority, a reasonable return on the capital should be allowed."

With these guidelines in mind, the Opel question was put again on May 3 to the GM financial policy committee, which then withdrew its objections to a return to Rüsselsheim. Many, many details still had to be worked out, both within GM and in the U.S. occupied zone of Germany, before this could actually occur. At last, the official word was released on November 1, 1948: GM resumed management control of Adam Opel AG Edward W. Zdunek, formerly regional manager for Europe of General Motors Overseas Operations Division, was named managing director.

The appointment of Zdunek to this post was a move of special significance. An experienced motor industry executive, he was not merely liked but indeed loved by those who worked for him. The sensitive hand of Ed Zdunek was the perfect choice to guide the fragile Opel ship through the roiling waters of postwar Germany. He continued in that critical position until 1961.

Changes in the Opel cars under GM's management didn't appear until January 1950, when a face-lifted Olympia was introduced. Front and rear fenders were elongated and a heavy horizontal chrome grille was added. A retrograde step was the replacement of the four-speed gearbox with a three-speed unit, with a column shift lever. Engine tuning emphasized high torque at low engine speeds so the extra ratio wasn't too sorely missed. The cabrio-coach model was returned to the Olympia range and a kombi was also offered, built by Karosserie Miesen. In February 1951, in preparation for the first postwar automobile show in Germany, the Olympia was dressed up further with a trunk compartment that enclosed the spare tire and 15 in (38 cm) wheels instead of 16 in (41 cm) wheels and tires. With minor further changes, this model lasted to March 1953.

Detail improvements, such as a new dashboard and a steering column shift, embellished the Kapitän line in May 1950. Bigger changes were saved for March 1951, to anticipate the opening of the doors of the Frankfurt show on April 19 for an 11-day run. Its earlier fast-back style was modified to a mild notch-back contour, and a new horizontal grille — not the prettiest in Opel history — dominated the frontal view. With a higher compression ratio (still only 6.25:1), engine power was 58 bhp (43 kW/59 PS) at 3700 rpm and top speed was 80 mph (130 km/h). Output increased to 60 bhp (45 kW/61 PS) during the further life of this model, which ended in July 1953.

More or less by 'fait accompli', in the absence of the tools to build the Kadett, Opel found itself in the middle-priced bracket in Germany's postwar auto market, sandwiched between VW and Mercedes-Benz. This was a position that was not unfamiliar to both GM and Opel, and one in which it did amazingly well. In 1953, output rose above 100,000 units for the first time since the war, and in 1954, when the sprawling plant by the Main River was considered completely rebuilt, 24,270 were employed at Adam Opel AG and 167,650 vehicles were built—an all-time high. Opel had looked the spectre of oblivion in the eye and come back stronger than ever.

Opel restructuring (2009-present)Edit

In early 2009, the future of GM's German brand, Opel was thrown into uncertainty as the global financial crisis drove GM towards bankruptcy. New Opel (Opel plus Vauxhall, minus Saab),[6] was controlled by a trustee, with a controlling board made up of representatives from GM, employees and the German Government; the company was subject to a bidding process.

The deal, underwritten by the German Government, was negotiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. GM was expected to keep a 35% minority stake in the new company,[7][8] Opel staff 10%,[9] with a plan which proposed to sell the majority of the business to one of two partners:

  • FIAT
  • A consortium majority-owned by a Sberbank of Russia (35%), Magna International of Canada (20%), and Opel employees (10%)

The new company would not be allowed to sell Opel cars in the U.S. (permanently) and China (at least temporarily) markets, which are the two biggest markets in the world.[10]

On June 1, 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy in a court in New York. As the sale of Opel had been negotiated two days before, with the preferred bidder the Magna consortia, both companies were in effect ring-fenced from any GM asset liquidation.[11][12][13][14] If Opel needed to reduce production of its own core models then any unused capacity could be used to manufacture vehicles for other carmakers. Inside sources close to Magna revealed that some of the possible third party carmakers include Ford and PSA Peugeot Citroen.[15]

GM announced that final bids were to be placed with them by July 20, which resulted in three bidders:[16]

  • Magna, still backed by Sberbank, had made a last-minute change to its bid in order to placate concerns about its Russian partner's influence. This would result in both partners having a 27.5% share in the new company, with GM retaining 35%.
  • Belgian-based investor RHJ International
  • China's Beijing Automotive Industries - disqualified over "intellectual property issues" a few days later[17]

Toward the end of August 2009, there were doubts over whether a sale of Opel would actually go ahead, though a German government official later revealed that talks were continuing.[18] This was followed by RHJ International raising its bid for Opel to €300m from €275m.[19]

On September 10, 2009, GM agreed to sell a 55% stake in Opel to the Magna group with the approval of the German government.[20] The agreement would have kept Opel a fully integrated part of GM’s global product development organisation. However, on 3 November 2009 the GM board called off the Magna deal after coming to the conclusion that Opel was crucial to GM's global strategy.[21]

With ongoing restructuring plans Opel announced the closure of its Antwerp plant in Belgium from January 2011 onwards.

Adam Opel AG todayEdit

Opel Astra J front 20100725

Opel Astra J (since 2009)

Opel is one of the most traditional car manufacturers in Germany, and one of Europe’s largest automakers. The company operates 11 vehicle, powertrain, and component plants and three development centers in six countries, and employs around 40,000 people (as of December 2010). Many additional jobs are provided by some 6,600 independent sales and service outlets as a direct result of their business with the automaker. Opel and its sister brand in the U.K., Vauxhall, sell vehicles in more than 40 markets worldwide. The company's factory in Rüsselsheim has been transformed to one of the most modern plants in the world for €750 million and started production in 2002. The capacity is around 180,000 vehicles a year. Other Opel plants are in Bochum, Eisenach, and Kaiserslautern, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; Vienna/Aspern, Austria; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Zaragoza, Spain and Gliwice, Poland. Opel cars are also made in Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port and Luton plant in the UK. The Dudenhofen Test Center is located near the Rüsselsheim headquarters.

Also located in Rüsselsheim is the International Technical Development Center (ITDC) and the Opel Design Center. Around 6,300 people are responsible for the development and design of Opel vehicles. All in all, Opel plays an enormously important role in the global GM corporate group as it has for instance developed and engineered the Epsilon (I) platform, Epsilon II platform, Delta (I) platform, Gamma platform and played an important role in the development of especially the higher-end, more-refined versions of the Delta II platform and the Gamma II platform. In addition, the company is developing new manufacturing equipment for the global GM auto production.

So Opel is in most cases fully responsible for all the car architectures and technologies up to the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal/Buick LaCrosse. In particular, all the future-oriented, modern, full-efficient GM architectures for more compact vehicles are developed by Opel in Rüsselsheim.

Even the idea and concept behind the Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera is rooted in Opel/Germany with Frank Weber, the former "Global Vehicle Line Executive and Global Chief Engineer electric vehicle development" and therefore leader of the Volt-development, being originally an Opel-employee who was moved to the USA in order to advance the development of this prestigious, revolutionary concept in GM's home country instead of the German outpost that is Opel. In 2009, Weber returned during the reorganization of the Opel leadership to Opel as "Vice President Planning and Commercial Vehicle Operations" for the company.[22]

Opel Meriva B 1.4 ECOTEC Innovation front 20100907

Opel Meriva B (since 2010)

Opel established Opel Performance Center GmbH (OPC) in 1997, which is responsible for the development of high-performance cars of Opel.

Opel Special Vehicles GmbH (OSV) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Adam Opel AG which produces special series and undertakes vehicle modifications. Together with the ITDC, OSV developed the environmentally friendly and cost-CNG-drive concept based on natural gas (Compressed Natural Gas) and was first implemented on the Opel Zafira 1.6 CNG.

In 2011, Opel sold over 1,18 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Europe, achieving a market share of 6.2%. In Germany, Opel regained the number two position with a market share of 7.6%. It offers International and Diplomat Sales (IDS) to customers in international organizations, military, and diplomatic service.

Starting this year, the company will begin selling vehicles in China, Chile and Israel. In late 2011, Opel will also sell vehicles in South Africa, Argentinia and the Middle East.

Opel employees and production in EuropeEdit

From April 1, 2011, Karl-Friedrich Stracke will be CEO of Adam Opel AG.

[Rüsselsheim, Germany
Production site Production since Products Comments Employees
Opel-factories (Germany)
1898 Int.Technical Development Center (ITDC)
Headquarters of Adam Opel AG
Bochum, Germany 1962 4.800
Kaiserslautern, Germany 1966 3.100
Eisenach, Germany 1990 1.700
Opel-factories (Europe)
Luton, Great Britain 1905 Headquarters of Vauxhall Motors 1.284
Ellesmere Port, Great Britain 1962
  • Astra (5-door, Sports Tourer)
Zaragoza, Spain 1982
  • Corsa (3-door, 5-door)
  • Meriva
St. Petersburg, Russia 2008 1.200
Gliwice, Poland 1998
  • Astra (5-door)
Aspern, Austria 1982 1.800
St. Gotthard, Hungary 1990
  • Engines
  • Transmissions
Production of related companies
Renault/SOVAB (Societé des Véhicules Automobiles de Batilly)
Batilly, Dept. Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
Magyar Suzuki Corp.
Esztergom, Hungary
1991 6.300
Bursa, Turkey
1968 8.200

European Car of the YearEdit

Opel has produced three winners of the European Car of the Year award.

Other Opel models have come in either second or third in the contest.



Zeppelin 1937 logo

The first Opel logo after the founding of the company consisted of the squiggly letters A and O, the initials of Adam Opel. The A was in bronze, the O kept in red.

Starting in 1886, was then seen, inter alia, the goddess of Victory Victoria and a cyclist on the logo. This image was surrounded by the inscription "Victoria Blitz", the name of one of the first Opel bicycles. From 1909, the name became the logo. A spirited Opel name in gold adorned the motorcycles and cars. A year later, the logo was again changed. From now on, we saw a blue, surrounded by laurels eye, which contained the words "Opel" in capital letters (uppercase).

By 1935, they introduced a stylized Zeppelin, symbolizing the progress, surrounded by a yellow ring, which is supposed to represent a wheel. The Zeppelin also occurred as a hood ornament, for example at the Olympia. As of 1950, another logo was used, not found on the vehicles, but rather intended for the dealer organization. Another Opel logo was a white oval which was yellow on one half.

In the 1960s, they changed the Zeppelin increasingly to flash. Officially, the Lightning since 1963, the logo of Opel. In 1970, the logo of the dealer organization was again changed to see the flash with a ring on a yellow rectangle to see the lettering below the "Opel" was about. The official logo was surrounded by a black rectangle, and found primarily on printed materials used. In 1987, the Opel logo then modernized.

On the vehicles himself had since the 1940s, however, always see only the Opel logo without typography, again and again in different materials (in shape or size characters), and proportions, even at the same time produced models. The production of a single CI is the longest time at Opel have not been consistently followed.

The 2007 study presented shows the current GTC Concept Opel logo was engraved into the top ring of the lettering on "Opel". The Insignia has a single model since 2008 also has this logo.


Opel has announced that it plans to return to the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) series in 2012.

Clubs with the name OpelEdit

The SC Opel Rüsselsheim is a soccer club with about 450 members from Rüsselsheim, which combines a checkered history with the company Opel. The RV 1888 Opel Rüsselsheim is a cycling club.


Opel is set to launch new ad campaigns with the Eurovision Song Contest Winner 2010 Lena Meyer-Landrut [23] of Germany and with singer/songwriter Katie Melua[24] of Georgia.


Opel's corporate tagline is Wir leben Autos, meaning “We live cars”. The German-language tagline is used in many European countries.[25]

What “Wir Leben Autos” means

The «Wir» (We) stands for the excitement and affirmative, positive attitude of the employees and dealers – a great starting point for the development of intelligent, surprising and innovative products they supply to their customers.

The word «leben» (live) embodies the high level of energy at Opel. It is a vitality which anyone who has experienced an Opel can feel through the variety of practical functions, exciting innovations and fascinating, dynamic design.

Finally, the «Autos» (cars) have become an essential part of their lives. They combine their personal experiences with that of their customers in order to make their daily mobility simpler and more comfortable.

Marketing with fictitious bandEdit

Opel operates one of the first car manufacturer "viral marketing" with the fictional band the C.M.O.N.S. The band consists of the characters White, Red and Blue (male), and Moo and Cherri (female). They were designed by the German artist living in Barcelona, Boris Hoppek. The music is from the (real existing) band, The Outcomes.

On the C.M.O.N.S. drew attention, inter alia, poster campaigns and contributions in online communities like YouTube and MySpace. Particularly noteworthy is the collaboration with MTV. Meanwhile, Opel use the C.M.O.N.S. directly for the Corsa publicity. Opel was the sponsor of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006, 2 November 2006 and the Corsa was the "official car" of the event.

Model namesEdit

From the beginning of production until 1930, the Opel models usually carried model-numbers such as 4 / 12 hp. The number before the slash was the tax horsepower, the number behind it was the actual performance in horsepower. Exceptions were the first Opel, which bore the name Patent Motor Car "System Lutzman", and the Opel Regent, from 1928 - 25 vehicles were produced.

This quite complicated system was replaced after the takeover by General Motors in 1931 by the given engine displacement (for example, 1.2 liters), which was kept only until 1937. An exception here was the Opel P4, whose name indicates it as a four-seater car . The name of the 1935 produced Opel Olympia was chosen in view of the Olympic Summer Games in 1936 and taken over by the following models.

From the late 1930s to the 1980s, terms from the German Navy (Captain, Admiral, Cadet), and from other official sectors (Diplomat, Senator) were often used as model names, from the late 1980s, the design names changed to ones ending in "A". The last series to be renamed was the Opel Kadett, which was renamed the Opel Astra taking the name that had been used on its English (Vauxhall) sister model since the Kadett D (1979–1984). The only exception to this naming was the built under license Opel Monterey. Similarly, the model names of the Transporter models ending with "O" (Combo, Vivaro, Movano, former Campo). Now models which do not have names ending in "A" have been re-introduced, such as the Opel Signum, Opel Speedster, even if many "A" models remain in production to date.

Models for other countriesEdit

Many cars sold by GM worldwide are Opel engineered vehicles, including such models as the Astra, Corsa, Insignia and Zafira. Opel models are also sold under other GM brand names, such as Vauxhall in the UK, Buick in China and North America and Chevrolet in Latin America. Its Zafira people carrier was sold in Australia badged as a Holden Zafira. The Opel Blazer was a rebadged Chevrolet Blazer especially for Indonesia. The Opel Calais was a rebadged Holden Commodore especially for Malaysia. The Opel Corsa Utility was a rebadged Chevrolet Montana for South Africa only, but in 2010 this model was rebadged to Chevrolet Corsa Utility.

Opel in the United StatesEdit

Opels appeared under their own name in the U.S. from 1958-1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports. The best-selling Opel models in the U.S. were the 1964–1972 Opel Kadett, the 1971–1975 Opel Manta, and the now-classic 1968–1973 Opel GT.[26][27] (The name "Opel" was also applied from 1976 to 1980 on vehicles manufactured by Isuzu (similar to the "Isuzu I-mark"), but mechanically those were entirely different cars). However, there are and have been lots of cars sold in the U.S. that are based on Opel models or on platforms developed by Opel:

Buick Regal (5th generation, 2009–present)Edit

The Buick Regal is more or less a rebadged Insignia. The main differences are the modified radiator grill and the altered color of the passenger compartment illumination (blue instead of red). The Regal GS equals to the Opel Insignia OPC. Currently, the Regal is assembled alongside the Opel Insignia at the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, Germany with the plan to also build it at the GM plant in Oshawa, Canada from the first quarter of 2011.

Saturn Astra (2008-2009)Edit

The Astra H was sold in the U.S. as the Saturn Astra for model years 2008 to 2009.

Saturn Aura (2008-2009)Edit

The Saturn Aura was an, especially in the interior, quite heavily modified version of the Opel Vectra C.

Opel in AustraliaEdit

Many Opel-models or models based on Opel architectures have been sold in Australia under the brand name of Holden. Currently, for the first time ever, it is planned that the brand Opel will be introduced to Australia in 2012.[28][29]

Holden Barina (1994-2005)Edit

Two of the generations of the Holden Barina were essentially rebadged Opel Corsas. However, the first, the second and the most recent fifth generation were — compared to the rebadged Opel models — cheaper, lower-end Suzuki Cultus's (1st and 2nd Barina-generation) and Daewoo Kalos. As a result, the initial fifth generation (2005–2008) only scored 2 out of 5 stars in the ANCAP rating whilst the Opel-based predecessor scored 4 out of 5.

3rd generation (1994-2001)Edit

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa B.

4th generation (2001-2005)Edit

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa C.

Opel in South AfricaEdit

Opel were distributed via Delta Motors until 2003. They sold the Opel Kadett, Opel Corsa, Opel Ascona and Opel Senator. The current Opel range in South Africa comprises the Opel Corsa and Opel Astra (Opel Astra J, sold only as a five-door). No diesel versions are offered. The Opel Insignia is currently unavailable, and the Opel Vectra was never offered there due to a lack of popularity for midsize cars in South Africa.

Model lineupEdit

Passenger CarsEdit

Opel Agila Opel Ampera Opel Antara Opel Astra Opel Corsa Opel Insignia Opel Meriva Opel Zafira
2000–present 2011–present 2006–present 1991–present 1982–present 2008–present 2002–present 1999–present
  • City car
  • mid-size car
  • Compact crossover SUV
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door estate
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door station wagon
  • Mini MPV
  • Compact MPV
Novo agila 1 Opel Ampera Antaraopel Neues astra 1 Corsa D Insignia000 Opel Meriva B 1.3 CDTI Edition front 20100722 Zafirona b

Commercial vehiclesEdit

Opel Combo Opel Vivaro Opel Movano
1994–present 2001–present 1998–present
  • Panel van
  • Van, Minibus
  • Panel van
ComboopelB 7ba7VIVARO 27 Opel Movano B front 20100705

OPC modelsEdit

Opel Astra OPC Opel Corsa OPC Opel Insignia OPC
1999–present 2007–present 2009–present
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door station wagon
Opel astra H 3T opc Opel corsa 3T opc Opel insignia 4T opc


  • 1862 - Adam Opel founded Opel.[2]
  • 1899 - First Opel automobile patent: reverse gear in patented motor car, Lutzmann system.
  • 1909 - Opel makes the automobile affordable with the "Doctor's Car", which is sold at half the price (3,950 marks) of competitors' luxury models.
  • 1910 - Introduction of the modular construction system at Opel. Now, prefabricated car bodies can be combined with different engines and chassis.
  • 1924 - Opel is the first German manufacturer to adopt assembly-line manufacturing methods that enable volume production.
  • 1928 - Opel builds RAK 1 and RAK 2. RAK 2 has 24 solid fuel rockets that catapult the vehicle to 238 km/h (148 mph), setting a new world record.
  • 1929 - Adam Opel AG in Rüsselsheim, Germany, is acquired.
  • 1931 - Opel is the first manufacturer to set up a customer service school.
  • 1935 - Opel Olympia is the first German large-volume vehicle with self-bearing whole-steel body.
  • 1940 - Opel production is suspended through the war years.
  • 1950 - The Opel plant in Rüsselsheim is completely rebuilt.
  • 1962 - Inauguration of the second Opel plant in Bochum, Germany.
  • 1965 - The Opel Experimental GT is the first concept car of a European automobile manufacturer and the first concept car to go into production (in 1968).
  • 1967 - Inauguration of the Opel Belgium plant in Antwerp.
  • 1976 - Opel patent: cavity in piston head reduces noise in diesel engines.
  • 1982 - New assembly plant opens in Zaragoza, Spain, to produce the Opel Corsa.
  • 1984 - The Kadett GSi is the most streamlined car in its class, at 0.30 cd.
  • 1989 - Opel is the first European manufacturer to offer catalytic converters on all gasoline models.
  • 1992 - New Opel plant opens in Eisenach, Germany.
  • 1993 - Opel patent: a "metal protection sheet" integrated into the backrest of the seats forms a rigid barrier.
  • 1994 - Opel patent: special process for separation of oil-in-water emulsions.
  • 1995 - Corsa Eco3 is the first ready-to-drive 3-liter per 100 km car in the world.
  • 1996 - New engine plant in Kaiserslautern, Germany, begins production. Opel and Renault sign cooperation agreement in light commercial vehicle sector.
  • 1998 - Inauguration of new Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim. Inauguration of new Opel plant in Gliwice, Poland.
  • 1999 - Opel celebrates 100 years of car production on January 21. Flex7 seating system in the Opel Zafira.
  • 2002 - Production of new Vectra starts at Opel's state-of-the-art facility in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
  • 2007 - Opel introduces low-emission ecoFlex variants of its volume model lines. Opel engineers developing mechatronic chassis, that makes driving safer and more comfortable.
  • 2008 - Opel Eye is introduced in Opel Insignia.
  • 2009 - Opel Ampera is unveiled at Geneva Motor Show.

See alsoEdit


  2. 2.0 2.1 "Opel Media - Europe - Company". Retrieved on 2010-12-21.
  3. "Informationen zu Opel". Retrieved on 2010-10-01.
  4. "Lutzmann". Cartype. Retrieved on 2009-06-13.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Das Alte stürzt...Es aendert sich die Zeit......und neues Leben blüht aus den Ruinen", Das Auto 1: Seite 2–3. December 1946. 
  6. "DETNEWS | Weblogs | Autos Blog". (2009-06-14). Retrieved on 2009-06-28.
  7. "Germany picks Magna to save Opel", BBC News (May 30, 2009). 
  8. Weber, Tim (May 30, 2009). "Analysis: Opel's survival still at stake", BBC News. 
  9. "Hintergrund: So geht es weiter mit Opel". Retrieved on 2010-04-03.[dead link]
  10. "Magna says can't sell Opel cars in U.S., China", Reuters (06-02-2009). 
  11. Sandler, Linda; Chris Scinta, Bob Van Voris & Jeff Green (June 1, 2009). "GM Files Bankruptcy to Spin Off More Competitive Firm (Update4)",, Bloomberg LP. Retrieved on June 1, 2009. 
  12. Sanger, David E.; Jeff Zeleny & Bill Vlasic (May 31, 2009). "G.M. to Seek Bankruptcy and a New Start: A Risky Bet to Save an Icon of American Capitalism url =", New York Times. Retrieved on June 1, 2009. 
  13. Sanger, David E. (May 31, 2009). "G.M. to Seek Bankruptcy and a New Start", New York Times. Retrieved on June 1, 2009. 
  14. Maynard, Micheline (May 29, 2009). "After 93 Years, G.M. Shares Go Out on a Low Note", New York Times. Retrieved on June 1, 2009. 
  15. Weber, Jeremy (2009-05-17). "Report: Magna considers using Opel to build cars for other brands". MotorAuthority. Retrieved on 2009-10-25.
  16. "GM receives three bids for Opel", BBC News (2009-07-20). Retrieved on 2009-07-20. 
  17. "Beijing Auto fails in bid for GM's Opel". Retrieved on 2009-10-25.
  18. GM 'still intends to sell Opel' BBC News. 25 August 2009
  19. RHJ raises bid for carmaker Opel BBC News. 2 September 2009
  20. "Opel and Vauxhall to go to Magna", BBC News (2009-09-10). Retrieved on 2009-09-10. 
  21. Vlasic, Bill (November 3, 2009). "G.M. Decides to Keep Opel, Its European Unit", New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-11-03. 
  22. "Frank Weber wird Chef der Opel-Produktplanung [Autokiste]". (2009-11-27). Retrieved on 2010-10-01.
  23. "Opel Media - Europe - News". (2010-09-04). Retrieved on 2010-11-17.
  24. "Opel Media - Europe - News". (2010-11-15). Retrieved on 2010-11-27.
  25. "Opel Vice President Alain Visser: Cars are our passion". (2009-09-15). Retrieved on 2010-04-03.
  26. "Opel Club". Opel Club. Retrieved on 2010-10-01.
  27. "Opel GT". Opel GT. Retrieved on 2010-10-01.
  28. "German article from heise online reporting that Opel is going to enter outer-european markets". Retrieved on 2010-10-01.
  29. GoAutoMedia (2010-09-14). "Opel 2011 Astra - Holden eyes Opel". GoAuto. Retrieved on 2010-10-01.

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