Opel – Brand history, legendary models, current offer

Opel is a German car manufacturer with headquarters in Rüsselsheim. The company has been a subsidiary of the French PSA Group since the end of 2017, after General Motors ceased production of the brand.

Opel comes from the sewing machine company founded by Adam Opel in 1862. In addition to cars, Opel also produces trucks and buses. It is now the second largest car manufacturer in Europe after the Volkswagen Group and employs around 37,000 people at four production sites: three in Germany in Eisenach, Kaiserslautern and Rüsselsheim, and one at the Großbritannienstraße factory in Antwerpen (Belgium).

Opel was originally known as the Opel Werke, but after GM took over the company in 1929, it was forced to change its name to Opel. As part of General Motors, Opel has been active in many areas and industries through various mergers and acquisitions. However, car production remains the main area of ​​activity.

The Opel vehicle line mainly consists of small cars and compact cars. The company’s best-selling models are the ADAM, ADAM ROCKS, Corsa, Astra, Cascada and Insignia.

Few people know that Opel was once the first car manufacturer in Germany. At the turn of the century, there were already many manufacturers of passenger cars and vans in Germany, but Opel was distinguished by the fact that the company created the first German car on its own responsibility. The company was founded in 1862 by Adam Opel. He only wanted to produce sewing machines and scales, but he soon began producing bicycles, which he had been producing for over 25 years. The production of bicycles only ended when the factory was destroyed in a fire.

Opel’s history began in 1895, when the company released its first car. The Opel 4 / 8PS model wasn’t powerful enough for car enthusiasts, but it set a new standard for German cars. Thanks to the solid foundations laid by Adam Opel, his son Albert became one of the leading German car manufacturers. In 1899 he became co-owner of Opel, and in 1905 took over full ownership of the company.

The first series-produced Opel car appeared in 1902 with the RAK 2 model. This model was more powerful than its predecessors, but still had only 8 HP. It was not until 1908 that Opel presented its first car that was comparable to the standard set by competitors such as Mercedes-Benz. It was a Lutzmann model that was equipped with a four-cylinder engine with a capacity of only 1 liter.

The Opel 4 / 8PS (4 cylinders) advertised in 1911 had a power of 7 horsepower and could reach speeds of 60 kilometers per hour on open roads. In total, 18,000 copies of this model were sold.

Iconic models in later years were the Olympia and Kadett models, which enjoyed great popularity in the 1950s. The company reached its zenith in the 1960s with iconic cars such as the Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat.

Opel’s expansion in Europe continued until 1967, when General Motors (GM) bought 80% of Opel’s shares. GM previously owned Buick and has now decided to acquire Opel as well. Although GM promised not to change management of the company, it quickly began imposing its ideas on Opel cars.

Opel was initially known for large family sedans like this one (Admiral, Kapitän).

GM continued to sell Opel in Germany, but soon Opel began producing models that were also sold by GM in the US. The first model that was identical to the American model was the Kadett A / C (sold in America as the Chevrolet Chevette), which was launched in 1973.

However, it was not clear whether the Opel car was actually a good idea. Despite the fact that Opel had a great reputation in Germany, its cars were not that well known on the other side of the Atlantic. When GM released the first models under the Opel brand, they did not sell particularly well. In 1980, only about 1% of all cars sold by GM were from Opel.

In 1981, Opel launched the first generation Corsa (Vauxhall Nova in the UK) which was based on GM’s small car design philosophy. Opel later produced other models that were also released under the Vauxhall brand, including the Astra / Kadett, Frontera / Monterey and Omega / Sintra.

In 1991, Opel was one of the first manufacturers to offer a car with direct fuel injection (Vectra). In 1995, Opel won the prestigious “European Car of the Year” award. The model to win this award was the Zafira, which was later released in America by Vauxhall under its original name and marketed as the Pontiac Montana SV6.

Opel was further developed through cooperation with Suzuki (for example Opel Speedster) and Mitsubishi (for example L200), but many German fans of the company believed that this spoiled its image. As a result of public pressure, GM stopped cooperating with other manufacturers and in 2005 to refocus on the development of Opel models. This led to cars such as the Astra GTC and Insignia OPC, which were hugely successful across Europe.

After a short collaboration with Fiat (including the Grande Punto and Mokka), GM finally sold its European division – including Vauxhall – in March 2017. This year also saw the premiere of new models such as the Crossland X and the Insignia Grand Sport. which were appreciated by both critics and customers.

Today, Opel is a recognized brand that offers a wide range of cars for both individual and private customers. It includes not only small models for private buyers, but also commercial vehicles that are popular with companies around the world. The Opel range covers all classes, from Corsa to Monza.

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