It was way back in 1899 when Opel first got involved in the car making industry
Automotive behemoth Opel. Often overlooked for its sports car producing German counterparts, will be celebrating 120 years of its involvement in automotive engineering in 2019.
More on Opel...
- Going underground in an Opel GT
- Driving Walter Röhrl's Opel Ascona 400 rally car
- Classic Opels in our classifieds
The company was founded way back in 1862, starting with sewing machines and eventually expanding into the production of bicycles. Founder Adam Opel died in 1895 and, four years later, his wife and two sons started a partnership with Friedrich Lutzmann to design a car. An initial lack of success led to a new partnership two years later with the French Darracq company. The Opel brand grew from there, making cars of its own design in 1906 and becoming the first German car manufacturer to have a mass-production assembly line before being bought by General Motors at the end of the 1920s.
What began in a workshop in Rüsselsheim with a total of 65 hand-crafted Opel patented "System Lutzmann" became a mass phenomenon with more than 70 million vehicles built to date. Right from the beginning, Opel had set its sights on producing cars as efficiently as possible and making them affordable for large circles. The mass-production assembly line arrived in 1924, making the Opel 4/12hp "tree frog" and all later Opel 4-PS variants were sales hits.
The Opel P4 and the Kadett (with self-supporting body), which apperared as early as in the thirties, were already true 'volkswagens' – cars for ordinary people. Opel’s core message could be seen in these models just as it was decades before, with affordable efficiency even being prevalent in its sportscars such as the 1968 Opel GT.
Since the 1950s, the brand has been involved in all vehicle classes - models such as the iconic Kadett, which proved a hit in its day and is still popular now. Stylistic icons like Opel GT, Manta and Monza followed. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the Corsa, Astra and Zafira became bestsellers, especially in the UK when sold with a Vauxhall badge.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the founding of the factory in Eisenach, Opel grew even more. Between 1991 and ‘98, the first generation of the Astra was built 4.2 million times - making it the most produced Opel ever. Today, Opel is proud of technologies such as adaptive LED matrix headlamps, EGR certified ergonomic seats and advanced assistance systems.