Adam Opel AG
Type Aktiengesellschaft
Industry Automotive
Founded January 21, 1862
Founder(s) Adam Opel
Headquarters Rüsselsheim, Germany
Number of locations 11 manufacturing facilities in 6 countries
Area served Global
(except North America)
Key people Karl-Friedrich Stracke
Products Automobiles
Services Financial services
Revenue decrease 9,994 billion (2010)
Employees 40,458 (2010)
Parent General Motors Company
Subsidiaries Opel Performance Center
Opel Motoren Kaiserslautern
Opel Eisenach
Opel Special Vehicles
Website Opel.com
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, generally shortened to Opel, is a German automobile company founded by Adam Opel in 1862.[1] Opel has been building automobiles since 1899, and became an Aktiengesellschaft in 1929. The company is headquartered in Rüsselsheim, 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 Euros in the next five years.[2] One billion of that is designated solely for the development of innovative and fuel-saving engines and transmissions.[3]



Advertisement for Opel Perfecta-Sewing Machines (1901)

1862 - 1920

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.

1920 - 1939

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

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 also 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 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 II

Administration buildings at the Rüsselsheim plant

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.

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 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 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.

After 1945

After the end of the war, with the Brandenburg plant dismantled and transported to Russia, and 47% of the buildings in Rüsselsheim destroyed,[6] 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.[6] 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 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 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.


Rüsselsheim plant

Adam Opel AG 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 5,000 independent sales and service outlets as a direct result of their business with the automaker. Opel sells 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; Vienna/Aspern, Austria; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Zaragoza, Spain; Gliwice, Poland; Ellesmere Port, and Luton, 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 engineering 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 LaCrosse/Chevrolet Malibu. In particular, all the future-oriented, modern, full-efficient GM architectures for compact and midsize vehicles are developed by Opel in Rüsselsheim.

Eisenach plant

Even the idea and concept behind the 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.[7] In 2011, Frank Weber left Opel.

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

Opel Special Vehicles GmbH (OSV) is a wholly owned subsidiary, 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.

Karl-Friedrich Stracke is Chairman of the Management Board & Chief Executive Officer at Adam Opel AG since April, 2011.


Production site Production since Products Comments Employees
Rüsselsheim, Germany 1898 Int.Technical Development Center (ITDC)
Headquarters of Adam Opel AG
Test site Dudenhofen
Bochum, Germany 1962 3.100
Kaiserslautern, Germany 1966
  • Components
  • Engines:
  • Four-cylinder turbo diesel engines (1.9 liter)
  • ECOTEC alloy engines (1.9 to 2.2 liters) in several variants
Eisenach, Germany 1990 1.600
Zaragoza, Spain 1982
  • Corsa (3-door, 5-door)
  • Corsavan
  • Meriva
Gliwice, Poland 1998 3.400
Tychy, Poland 1996
  • Diesel engines
Aspern, Austria 1982 1.600
St. Gotthard, Hungary 1990
  • Engines
  • Transmissions
Ellesmere Port, United Kingdom 1962
  • Astra (5-door, Sports Tourer)
  • Astravan
Luton, United Kingdom[8] 1907 1.100

Sales in Europe

Year Units Market share
2010[9] 1.178.175 6,2 %

Clubs with the name Opel

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.



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" (engl. lightning) first appeared back then, but without a depiction.

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.

1910: The logo was the shape of an eye, and it was surrounded by laurels, with the text "Opel" in the center. A stylized zeppelin in a ring was the company's logo from 1935, when zeppelins stood for innovation and progress. The zeppelin was also used as a hood ornament. The logo's ring symbolized the bicycle and it's meaning to mankind.

The logo that was used from 1950 was again very simple. It was oval, half white and half yellow. The Opel writing was black and in the middle of the oval symbol.

Origin of the lightning in the Opel logo:

In the sixties and seventies, the lightning became more and more important to the logo. It is used officially since 1964. In the 1964 version, the flash with a ring was used in a yellow rectangle, with the Opel writing below. The whole logo was again delimited by a black rectangle.

In 1987, the logo was simplified. They recuded the logo to the stylized lightning and the ring, optionally also the writing of "Opel".

Over time, there were only minor modifications: The shape of the lightning was adjusted, and the whole logo was made three dimensional.


Opel's corporate tagline is Wir leben Autos, meaning “We live cars”. This German tagline is used in many European countries.[10]

World presence

United States

Opel cars 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.[11][12] (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, 2009–present)

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.[citation needed]

Saturn Astra (2008-2009)

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

Saturn Aura (2008-2009)

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

Cadillac Catera (1997-2001)

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


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.[13][14]

Holden Barina (1994-2005)

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)

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa B.

4th generation (2001-2005)

This vehicle is a rebadged Opel Corsa C.

South Africa

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 names

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. And from the late 1980s, the model names of passenger cars are ending with an "A". The last series to be renamed was the Opel Kadett, which was renamed to the Opel Astra. The only exception to this naming was the under license built Opel Monterey. Similarly to the passenger cars, the model names of commercial vehicles are ending with an "O" (Combo, Vivaro, Movano).

Current model range

Passenger cars

Agila Ampera Antara Astra Astra GTC Corsa Insignia Meriva Zafira Tourer
City car Compact car Compact crossover SUV Compact car Sport compact car Supermini Large family car Mini MPV Compact MPV
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door SUV
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 5-door station wagon
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 5-door notchback
  • 5-door station wagon
  • 5-door Mini MPV
  • 5-door Compact MPV
Opel Agila front.JPG
Opel Ampera (front quarter).jpg
Opel Antara facelift.jpg
Opel Astra J front 20100402.jpg
Opel Corsa Satellite (D, Facelift) – Frontansicht, 2. April 2011, Düsseldorf.jpg
Opel Insignia 20090717 front.jpg
Opel Meriva B 1.4 ECOTEC Innovation front 20100907.jpg
Opel zafira tourer 1.jpg

Commercial vehicles

Combo Vivaro Movano
Panel van Mid-sized commercial vehicle Mid-sized commercial vehicle
  • 5-door panel van
  • 5-door leisure activity vehicle
  • Van
  • Minibus
  • Chassis Cab
Opel combo 01.jpg
Opel Vivaro 20090905 front.JPG
Opel Movano B front 20100705.jpg

OPC models

Astra OPC Corsa OPC Insignia OPC
Sport compact car Supermini Large family car
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 3-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 5-door notchback
  • 5-door station wagon
Opel Astra OPC 2012.jpg
Opel Corsa OPC 2011.jpg
Opel insignia 4T opc.jpg


  • 1862 - Adam Opel founded Opel.[1]
  • 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.[15]
  • 1931 - Opel is the first manufacturer to set up a customer service school.[citation needed]
  • 1935 - Opel Olympia is the first German large-volume vehicle with self-bearing whole-steel body.[citation needed]
  • 1940 - Opel production is suspended through the war years.
  • 1950 - The Opel plant in Rüsselsheim is completely rebuilt.[15]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • '1988' - Opel withdraws from the United Kingdom following the demise of its last model sold there - the Manta.[16]
  • 1989 - Opel is the first European manufacturer to offer catalytic converters on all gasoline models.[citation needed]
  • 1992 - New Opel plant opens in Eisenach, Germany.[17]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[18]
  • 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.[15]
  • 2009 - Opel Ampera is unveiled at Geneva Motor Show.[19]

See also

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Portal icon Companies portal


  1. ^ a b "Opel Media - Europe - Company". Media.opel.com. http://media.opel.com/media/intl/en/company.brand_opel.html. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  2. ^ "GM’s Opel Outlines 11 Billion-Euro Investment as It Seeks Aid". Bloomberg. 2010-02-09. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aweFLsLewNdE. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 
  3. ^ "Autobauer: Opel-Betriebsrat begrüßt Elf-Milliarden-Investition von GM - Nachrichten - DerWesten" (in (German)). Derwesten.de. 2010-02-09. http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/Opel-Betriebsrat-begruesst-Elf-Milliarden-Investition-von-GM-id2523074.html. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Informationen zu Opel". Autoscout24.de. http://www.autoscout24.de/modelle/opel/. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  5. ^ "Lutzmann". Cartype. http://www.cartype.com/pages/1444/lutzmann. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "Frank Weber wird Chef der Opel-Produktplanung [Autokiste]". Autokiste.de. 2009-11-27. http://www.autokiste.de/psg/0911/8415.htm. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  8. ^ "Opel Media - Europe - Company". Media.opel.com. http://media.opel.com/media/intl/en/opel/company.html. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Opel Media - Europe - Company". Media.opel.com. http://media.opel.com/media/intl/en/company.brand_opel.html. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  10. ^ "Opel Vice President Alain Visser: Cars are our passion". Iaa.opel.info. 2009-09-15. http://iaa.opel.info/iaa-pressreleases/news/article/425-opel-vice-president-alain-visser-cars-are-our-passion.html. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  11. ^ "Opel Club". Opel Club. http://www.opelclub.com/. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  12. ^ "Opel GT". Opel GT. http://www.opelgt.com. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  13. ^ "German article from heise online reporting that Opel is going to enter outer-european markets". Heise.de. http://www.heise.de/autos/artikel/Opel-strebt-auf-aussereuropaeische-Wachstumsmaerkte-wie-China-1066499.html. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  14. ^ GoAutoMedia (2010-09-14). "Opel 2011 Astra - Holden eyes Opel". GoAuto. http://goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/DBEC2DFD91494CF4CA25779E0015B3D5. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  15. ^ a b c "Opel Firmengeschichte - Opel Deutschland". Opel.de. http://www.opel.de/ueber-opel/tradition.html. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  16. ^ "Ellesmere Port car factory- Vauxhall, Opel". Factorytour.co.uk. http://www.factorytour.co.uk/ellesmereport/. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  17. ^ "Standorte - Opel Deutschland". Opel.de. http://www.opel.de/ueber-opel/adam-opel-ag/standorte/index.html. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  18. ^ "Das Opelwerk in Gliwice". Wsws.org. 2005-01-28. http://www.wsws.org/de/2005/jan2005/pol2-j28.shtml. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  19. ^ Ewing, Steven J. (2011-03-02). "Geneva 2011: 2012 Opel Ampera set to electrify Europe – Autoblog". Autoblog.com. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/02/2012-opel-ampera-geneva-2011/. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 

External links

Opel at the Open Directory Project

Video clips

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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