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Adam Opel AG
Founded21 January 1862
Founder(s)Adam Opel
HeadquartersRüsselsheim, Germany
Number of locations11 manufacturing facilities in six countries
Area servedGlobal, except North America, United Kingdom
Key peopleDr. Karl-Thomas Neumann
Stephen J. Girsky
(Chairman; acting)
ProductsAutomobiles (since 1899)
Production outputDecrease 926,778 units (2012)[2]
RevenueIncrease 11.000 billion (2011)[3]
Employees37,056 (2012)[4]
ParentGeneral Motors (100%)

Opel Eisenach
Opel Southeast Europe[5]

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Adam Opel AG
Founded21 January 1862
Founder(s)Adam Opel
HeadquartersRüsselsheim, Germany
Number of locations11 manufacturing facilities in six countries
Area servedGlobal, except North America, United Kingdom
Key peopleDr. Karl-Thomas Neumann
Stephen J. Girsky
(Chairman; acting)
ProductsAutomobiles (since 1899)
Production outputDecrease 926,778 units (2012)[2]
RevenueIncrease 11.000 billion (2011)[3]
Employees37,056 (2012)[4]
ParentGeneral Motors (100%)

Opel Eisenach
Opel Southeast Europe[5]

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

Adam Opel AG (Opel) is a German automobile company founded by Adam Opel in 1862. Opel has been building automobiles since 1899,[6] and became an Aktiengesellschaft in 1929. The company is headquartered in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, Germany. It became a majority-stake subsidiary of the American General Motors Corporation in 1929 and has been a wholly owned subsidiary since 1931.

In 2010, Opel announced that it will invest around 11 billion in the next five years.[7] One billion of that is designated solely for the development of innovative and fuel-saving engines and transmissions.[8]


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.[9] 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.[10] These cars were not very successful and so the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel's sons signed a licensing agreement in 1901 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 two-cylinder engine.

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 "Doktorwagen" "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 "Doktorwagen" 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.


Opel Admiral convertible (1937–1939)
Opel Kapitän (1938-1940)

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.

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, during 1935, a second factory was built at Brandenburg for the production of "Blitz" light trucks.

1935 was the year in which 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 the car 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 ("unibody") all steel body. They called the car, launched in 1935, 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.

The 1930s was a decade of growth, and by 1937, with 130,267 cars produced, Opel's Rüsselsheim plant was Europe's top car plant in terms of output, while ranking seventh worldwide.[11]

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

World War II[edit]

Assembly of the Opel Blitz in Brandenburg (1936)
Military truck Opel Blitz in Italy (1944)

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.

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 3,000 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 Jumo 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 seemed to be the Opel Kadett in every detail, with only the name changed (this is, however, doubted, as various sources provide contradictory information; see the respective article). 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 Moskvitch 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.[citation needed] 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.

After 1945[edit]

One of the administration building in Rüsselsheim
Opel product of the 1940s:
fridge "Frigidaire"
Opel Rekord P1 (1957–1960)

After the end of the war, with the Brandenburg plant dismantled and transported to Russia, and 47% of the buildings in Rüsselsheim destroyed,[12] 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 15 July 1946 in the presence of U.S. Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters.[12] 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 26 July. 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 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. 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 6,785 DM for the Olympia (the Deutschmark having replaced the Reichsmark on 20 June 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.

Such executives as Alfred P. Sloan Jr., and Charles Wilson, GM's President, then were considering the options. 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 3 May 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 1 November 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 reportedly was most respected by those, who worked for him. Ed Zdunek was regarded as the perfect choice to guide Opel through this difficult environment 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-inch (38 cm) wheels instead of 16-inch (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 3,700 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 actually fully recovered from the consequences of the postwar era.

Opel's first turbocharged car was the Opel Rekord 2.3 TD, first shown at Geneva in March 1984.[13]

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, on 10 September 2009, GM agreed to sell a 55% stake in Opel to the Magna group with the approval of the German government. The deal was later called off.

With ongoing restructuring plans Opel announced the closure of its Antwerp plant in Belgium.

On 29 February 2012, Opel formally announced the creation of a major alliance with PSA, as part of which GM became PSA's second-largest shareholder, after the Peugeot family, with a holding of 7%. The alliance is intended to enable $2 billion per year of cost savings through platform sharing, common purchasing and other economies of scale.[14]


Opel factory in Bochum

Opel operates 11 vehicle, powertrain, and component plants and four development and test centers in seven countries, and employs around 37,000 people, with more than 20,000 of them in Germany as of December 2012. Many additional jobs are provided by some 6,500 independent sales and service outlets as a direct result of their business with the automaker. The brand sells vehicles in more than 40 markets worldwide. The company's Rüsselsheim factory has been transformed to one of the most modern plants in the world for €750 million and started production in 2002. Other Opel/GM plants are in Bochum, Eisenach, and Kaiserslautern, Germany; Vienna/Aspern, Austria; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Zaragoza, Spain; Gliwice, and Tychy, Poland; Ellesmere Port, and Luton, UK. The Dudenhofen Test Center is located near the Rüsselsheim headquarters and is responsible for all technical testing, and vehicle validations.

Around 6,000 people are responsible for the engineering and design of Opel vehicles at the International Technical Development Center (ITDC) and Opel Design Center in Rüsselsheim. All in all, Opel plays an important role in the global GM corporate group. The company was responsible for primary engineering of the Epsilon (I) platform, Epsilon II platform, Delta (I) platform, Delta (II) platform, Gamma platform and played an important role in the development of especially the higher-end, more-refined version of 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.[15] In particular, all the future-oriented, modern, full-efficient GM architectures for compact and midsize vehicles are developed by Opel.[16][17]

Even the idea and concept behind the Ampera was rooted in Opel with Frank Weber, the former "Global Vehicle Line Executive and Global Chief Engineer electric vehicle development," being originally an Opel employee who was moved to the USA in order to advance the development of this 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 Adam Opel GmbH as "Vice President Planning and Commercial Vehicle Operations" for the company.[18] In 2011, Frank Weber left Opel for BMW.[19]

Opel established Opel Performance Center (OPC) in 1997, which is responsible for the development of high-performance cars such as the Astra OPC, Corsa OPC and Insignia OPC. It is also involved in motorsport activities.

Opel Special Vehicles (OSV) is a wholly owned subsidiary that offers public authority and special-purpose vehicles. OSV developed in cooperation with ITDC the Opel Zafira B 1.6 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which was introduced in 2005.


Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann
CEO since March 2013
Chairman/CEO of Adam Opel AG/GmbH since 1948
Edward W. ZdunekNovember 1948February 1961
Nelson J. StorkFebruary 1961March 1966
L. Ralph MasonMarch 19661970
Alexander Cunningham1970January 1974
John P. McCormackFebruary 1974February 1976
James F. WatersMarch 1976August 1980
Robert C. StempelSeptember 1980February 1982
Ferdinand BeicklerFebruary 1982February 1986
Horst W. HerkeFebruary 1986March 1989
Louis HughesApril 1989June 1992
David HermanJuly 1992June 1998
Gary CowgerJune 1998October 1998
Robert HendryOctober 1998March 2001
Carl-Peter ForsterApril 2001June 2004
Hans DemantJune 2004January 2010
Nick ReillyJanuary 2010March 2011
Karl-Friedrich Stracke[20]April 2011July 2012
Thomas Sedran (interim Chairman) [21]July 2012February 2013
Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann[22]since March 2013


Production siteProduction sinceProductsCommentsEmployees
Rüsselsheim, Germany1898
  • International Technical Development Center (ITDC)
  • headquarters of Adam Opel AG
  • Dudenhofen Test Center
  • the annual capacity of the plant are 180,000 units.
Bochum, Germany1962
  • Factory scheduled to close at end of 2014[24]
Kaiserslautern, Germany1966
  • components
  • engines:
  • four-cylinder turbo diesel engines (1.9 liter)
  • Ecotec alloy engines (1.9 to 2.2 liters) in several variants
Opel Eisenach GmbH
Eisenach, Germany
Zaragoza, Spain19825,800
Gliwice, Poland1998
  • Astra H Classic (sedan)
  • Astra J (5-door, GTC, sedan)
  • Cascada[28]
GM Powertrain Poland[29]
Tychy, Poland
  • 1.7 Liter diesel engines
Opel Wien GmbH
Aspern, Austria
St. Gotthard, Hungary1990
  • engines
  • transmissions
Vauxhall Ellesmere Port
Ellesmere Port, United Kingdom
  • Astra J (5-door, Sports Tourer)
  • Astravan H
IBC Vehicles Ltd.
Luton, United Kingdom

Sales and market share in Europe[edit]

YearUnitsMarket share



1862: Adam Opel's initials

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, they expanded and started to produce bicycles. Around 1890, the logo was completely redesigned. The new logo also contained the words "Victoria Blitz" (referring to Lady Victory; they were certain of the triumph of their bicycles). The word "Blitz" (English: lightning) first appeared back then, but without a depiction.

1910: the blue eye

Another redesign was commissioned in 1909. The new logo was much more spirited and contained only the company name Opel itself. It was placed on the motorcycles that they had started to produce in 1902, and on the first cars which were produced in 1909.

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, which in some form could be interpreted as a zeppelin, the same flying object being used also as a forward pointing hood ornament. In some versions it looked like an arrow, in others like an aeroplane or a bird.

Besides the hood ornament flying through the ring, Opel also used a coat of arms in various forms, which mostly had a combination of white and yellow colors in it, a shade of yellow which is typical for Opel until today. One was oval, half white and half yellow. The Opel writing was black and in the middle of the oval symbol.

The origin of the lightning in the current (2012) Opel logo lies in the truck Opel Blitz (German "Blitz" = English "lightning"), which had been a commercial success, widely used also within the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's military. Originally the logo for this truck consisted of two stripes arranged loosely like a lightning symbol with the words "Opel" and "Blitz" in them, in later, 1950s models simplified to the horizontal form of a lightning which appears in the current Opel logo. The jag in the lightning always follows the original from the "Opel Blitz" text stripes, in the form of a horizontally stretched letter "Z".

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. Through all its variations, this logo is simple and unique, and both easyly recognizable and reproducible with just two strokes of a pen.

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.


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's corporate tagline is Wir leben Autos, meaning “We live cars”. This German tagline is used in many countries around the world.[33]


Opel sponsors many football clubs such as Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund and Süper Lig club Galatasaray. Opel also sponsor Australian Rugby League club the Sydney Roosters who play in the NRL.[34]


World presence[edit]

Opel is the core brand of General Motors in Europe.[37] Their models have been rebadged and sold in other countries and continents, such as Vauxhall in the UK, Holden in Australia and New Zealand and, previously, Saturn in the U.S. and Canada. Following the demise of General Motors Corporation's Saturn division in North America, Opel cars are currently rebadged and sold in the U.S., Canada, Mexico,[38] and China under the Buick name with models such as the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal, Opel Astra sedan/Buick Verano, and Opel Mokka/Buick Encore.

United States[edit]

Opel cars appeared under their own name in the U.S. from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports. The best-selling Opel models in the U.S. were the 1964 to 1972 Opel Kadett, the 1971 to 1975 Opel Manta, and the now-classic 1968 to 1973 Opel GT.[39][40] (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 many cars sold in the U.S. that are based on Opel models or on platforms developed by Opel:

Buick Regal (5th generation, since 2009)[edit]

The Buick Regal is a rebadged Opel 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 is comparable to the Insignia OPC. It was first assembled alongside the Insignia at the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Since the first quarter of 2011, it is now being built on the flexible assembly line at the GM plant in Oshawa, Canada.[41]

Buick Encore[edit]

The Buick Encore is the Buick version of the Opel Mokka, developed[42] by Opel in Rüsselsheim, but built[43] in South Korea.

Buick Verano[edit]

This is the sedan version of the Opel Astra J, which appeared first in China as Buick Excelle GT, and is offered by Opel as fourth body form of the Astra.

Buick LaCrosse[edit]

Unlike the vehicles listed above, the Buick LaCrosse is not a rebadged version of an Opel model. However, it is based on a long wheelbase version of the Opel-developed Epsilon II-platform and therefore shares many key components with the Opel Insignia and thereby the Buick Regal.

Saturn Astra (2008–2009)[edit]

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

Saturn Aura (2008–2009)[edit]

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

Saturn Vue (2nd generation, 2008–2010)[edit]

The Antara was sold in the U.S. and Canada as the Saturn Vue for model years 2008 and 2010.

Cadillac Catera (1997–2001)[edit]

The Opel Omega B was sold in the U.S. as the Cadillac Catera.

Australia and Oceania[edit]

Many Opel models or models based on Opel architectures have been sold in Australia and Oceania under the brand name of Holden, e.g. the Holden Astra (Opel Astra), Barina (Opel Corsa), Zafira (Opel Zafira), Tigra (Opel Tigra TwinTop) and Captiva 5 (Opel Antara) are also simply rebadged Opels. For the first time ever, the Opel brand was introduced to Australia on 1 September 2012. The current range includes the Corsa, Astra, Astra GTC and Insignia models, with OPC models likely to be added thereafter.[44][45][46]

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. The initial fifth generation (2005–2008) only scored two out of five stars in the ANCAP rating whilst the Opel-based predecessor scored four out of five.

Third generation (1994–2001)[edit]

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa B.

Fourth generation (2001–2005)[edit]

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa C.

South Africa[edit]

Opel is distributed by General Motors South Africa, which signed as Delta Motors from 1986 to 2003 as a result of the passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in the United States and subsequent divestment of General Motors from apartheid South Africa. They sold the Opel Kadett, Opel Corsa, Opel Ascona and Opel Senator. The current (2012) Opel range in South Africa comprises the Opel Astra, Opel Corsa, Opel Meriva and Opel Vivaro. 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.

United Kingdom[edit]

Starting with the Vauxhall Viva of 1963, General Motors began a 15-year development of launching Vauxhall-badged cars which were based on Opel designs, but continued to sell Vauxhall and Opel badged cars alongside each other, with Vauxhall remaining one of the most popular brands of car in Britain and comprehensively outselling the Opel brand. Nevertheless, by the early 1980s General Motors had taken the result to phase out the Opel brand on the British market, finally withdrawing it in 1988 on the demise of the Opel Manta.[47]

European Car of the Year[edit]

Opel have produced four winners of the European Car of the Year competition:

Shortlisted models[edit]

Several models have been shortlisted, including the:


From the beginning of production until 1930 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 e.g. the first Opel car, which bore the name Patent Motor Car "System Lutzmann".

This quite complicated system was replaced by the given engine displacement (for example 1.2 liters) in 1931, which was kept only until 1937. An exception 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 (Kapitän, Admiral, Kadett) and from other official sectors (Diplomat, Senator) were often used as model names. Since the late 1980s, the model names of Opel passenger cars end with an “A." As Opels were no longer being sold in the UK, there was no need to have separate model names for essentially identical Vauxhall and Opel cars (although there have been some exceptions to suit the UK market). The last series to be renamed across the two companies was the Opel Kadett, being the only Opel to take the name of its Vauxhall counterpart, as Opel Astra. Although there had only been two generations of Astra prior to the 1991 model, the new car was referred to across Europe as the Astra F, referring to its Kadett lineage. Until 1993, the Opel Corsa was known as the Vauxhall Nova in the UK, as Vauxhall had initially felt that Corsa sounded too much like, 'coarse,' and wouldn't catch on.

Exceptions to the nomenclature of ending names with an 'A' include the under-licence built Opel Monterey, the Opel Speedster (also known as the Vauxhall VX220), Opel GT (which wasn't sold at all as a Vauxhall, despite the VX Lightning concept), the Opel Signum and the Opel Adam. The Adam was initially supposed to be called, "Junior," as was its developmental codename and because the name 'Adam' had no history/importance to the Vauxhall marque.

Similar to the passenger cars, the model names of commercial vehicles end with an “O” (Combo, Vivaro, Movano), except the Corsavan and Astravan for obvious reasons.

Current model range[edit]

The following tables list current and announced Opel production vehicles as of 2012:

AdamOpel-Adam Green-front.JPGCity car
  • Hatchback
AgilaOpel Agila front.JPGMicrovan
  • Hatchback
AmperaOpel Ampera ePionier Edition – Frontansicht, 9. Juli 2012, Heiligenhaus.jpgPlug-in hybrid
  • Hatchback
AntaraOpel Antara 2.4 4x4 Design Edition (Facelift) – Frontansicht, 29. Oktober 2011, Düsseldorf.jpgCompact crossover SUV
  • SUV
AstraOpel Astra J front 20100402.jpgSmall family car
  • Hatchback
  • Saloon/Sedan
  • Estate/Wagon
CascadaOpel Cascada Front.JPGMid-size car
  • Convertible
Combo TourOpel Combo 1.6 CDTI Edition (D) – Frontansicht, 18. März 2012, Wuppertal.jpgFamily van/Small people carrier
  • MPV
CorsaOpel Corsa Satellite (D, Facelift) – Frontansicht, 2. April 2011, Düsseldorf.jpgSupermini
  • Hatchback
InsigniaOpel Insignia 20090717 front.jpgLarge family car
  • Saloon/Sedan
  • Liftback
  • Estate/Wagon
MerivaOpel Meriva B 1.4 ECOTEC Innovation front 20100907.jpgMini MPV
  • MPV
MokkaOpel Mokka 1.4 Turbo ecoFLEX Innovation – Frontansicht, 20. Oktober 2012, Heiligenhaus.jpgSubcompact crossover SUV
  • SUV
Zafira FamilyOpel Zafira 1.6 CNG ecoFlex Turbo Design Edition (B, Facelift) – Frontansicht, 9. Juli 2012, Heiligenhaus.jpgCompact MPV
  • MPV
Zafira TourerOpel Zafira Tourer 1.4 Turbo ecoFLEX Edition (C) – Frontansicht, 15. September 2012, Düsseldorf.jpgCompact MPV
  • MPV

Commercial vehicles[edit]

CorsavanCorsa VN 4.JPGCar-derived van
  • Van
AstravanCar-derived van
  • Van
ComboOpel Combo Kastenwagen 1.6 CDTI (D) – Frontansicht, 5. September 2012, Wuppertal.jpgPanel van / Leisure activity vehicle
  • Van
VivaroOpel Vivaro 20090905 front.JPGLight commercial vehicle
  • Van
MovanoOpel Movano B front 20100705.jpgLight commercial vehicle
  • Van
  • Chassis cab
  • Crew cab

OPC models[edit]

Opel produce high-performance derivatives of their cars developed by their OPC subsidiary.

Astra OPC2012-03-07 Motorshow Geneva 4263.JPGCompact sports car
  • Hatchback
Corsa OPCCorsa OPC Nürburgring Edition.jpgSupermini
  • Hatchback
Insignia OPCOpel insignia 4T opc.jpgLarge family car
  • Saloon/Sedan
  • Hatchback
  • Estate/Wagon

Discontinued models[edit]

System Lutzmann
Lutzmann Motorcar.jpg
1899 – 1902
1902 Opel Darracq.jpg
1902 – 1907
Opel 4 8 PS Doktorwagen 1910.jpg
1909 – 1910
Opel laubfrosch.jpg
1924 – 1931
1936 Opel Olympia.JPG
1935 – 1970
1937 – 1940
1962 – 1991
1939 Opel Kapitän, Owner Arild Nilssen who, as his lady companion wear matching attire cropped to highlight the car.jpg
1939 – 1970
Olympia Rekord
Opel Olympia Rekord sharkmouth ca 1954.jpg
1953 – 1957
Opel Rekord A6 f.JPG
1953 – 1986
MHV Opel Commodore A Coupé 01.jpg
1967 – 1982
Opel GT1900 1.jpg
1968 – 1973
Opel Manta 01b Foto MSp 2006-10-13.jpg
1970 – 1988
Opel Omega Kombi front 20080118.jpg
1986 – 2003
Opel Vectra I front 20080328.jpg
1988 – 2009
Opel Calibra front 20071212.jpg
1989 – 1997
Opel Signum front 20090919.jpg
2003 – 2008



Opel Adam R2 Rallye at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show

Opel has announced that it will return to motorsport competition with the Adam.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.opel.com/experience_opel/company-information/management-board.html
  2. ^ http://media.gm.com/media/intl/en/opel/company_opel/ebook.brand_opel.html#/36/zoomed
  3. ^ http://top500.welt.de/detail/20188/
  4. ^ http://media.gm.com/media/intl/en/opel/company_opel/ebook.brand_opel.html#/23/zoomed
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  8. ^ "Autobauer: Opel-Betriebsrat begrüßt Elf-Milliarden-Investition von GM - Nachrichten - DerWesten" (in (German)). Derwesten.de. 2010-02-09. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  9. ^ "Informationen zu Opel". Autoscout24.de. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  10. ^ "Lutzmann". Cartype. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  11. ^ http://www.zeit.de/1964/08/der-grosse-sprung-nach-vorn/komplettansicht "...Mit einer Produktion von 130 267 Fahrzeugen waren sie im Jahre 1937 die größte Automobilfabrik Europas und die siebtgrößte der Welt.
  12. ^ a b "Das Alte stürzt...Es aendert sich die Zeit......und neues Leben blüht aus den Ruinen". Das Auto 1: Seite 2–3. December 1946. 
  13. ^ Mazzocchi, Gianni, ed. (April 1984). "Autonotizie: Anche la Opel si dà al turbo" [Car News: Opel too with turbo]. Quattroruote (in Italian) (Milan, Italy: Editoriale Domus) 29 (342): 108. 
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  19. ^ "BMW hires General Motors electric car expert". Reuters. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
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  21. ^ Trefis Team (2012-04-18). "GM Is Headed For $27.50 Unless Europe Bleeds More Cash". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
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  27. ^ http://gmauthority.com/blog/2013/07/opel-announces-plan-to-build-mokka-in-spain-beginning-2014/
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  29. ^ http://media.opel.com/media/intl/en/opel/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/intl/en/2013/opel/04-22-gm-purchases-remaining-shares-in-tychy-plant-opel.html
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  35. ^ "Galatasaray ile Opel Sponsorluk Anlaşması İmzaladı". Galatasaray SK. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
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  38. ^ http://gmauthority.com/blog/2012/09/buick-launches-regal-turbo-in-mexico/
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  43. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/business/global/opels-future-weighs-heavy-on-german-town.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
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  47. ^ [1]
  48. ^ http://media.gm.com/media/intl/en/opel/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/intl/en/2012/opel/11_21_opel_motorsport.html

External links[edit]