Adam Opel had turned the automotive industry on it's side
by transforming his craftsman's business into a factory
which built revolutionary machines including the sewing
machine and the bicycle. At the close of the century,
another revolutionary machine made its appearance - the
Adam Opel signed a contract with a farmer, Friedrich
Lutzmann from Dessau, Germany and they started their
automotive manufacturing factory in Anhalt, Germany. The
Opel brothers (Adam's sons) worked two years in
partnership with Lutzmann building up the production of
automobiles in Rüsselsheim. Together they produced their
first model, the OPEL patent engine car system called the
Adam Opel separated from Lutzmann and signed a new
contract with a Frenchman, Alexandre Darracq. Together,
in 1902 they began producing French Darracq models under
license and selling them under the brand name
"Opel-Darracq." They were Opel bodies mounted
on a Darracq chassis and powered by a 2-cylinder engine.
The first Opel motorcycle was also built.
In the autumn the Opel brothers finished their first
design, the 10/12 hp model, which made its debut at the
Hamburg Motor Show.
Opel had produced it's one-thousandth vehicle and
business was developing fast.
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
Opel´s first truck, a 1 tonner was introduced.
Opel became the largest German manufacturer of motor
In the early 1920's, 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 1930's 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
Many modifications were being developed through the end
of the 1920's. The OPEL rocket program drew enormous
attention. With the OPEL "Rak" of 1928, on a
course south of Rüsselsheim., Germany, the citizens of
Berlin witnessed the car using 24 solid propellant
rockets accelerate to 238 km/h.
The Opel AG was taken over by General Motors and took its place as a key member
of the family.
The 2½ ton "Blitz" truck appeared for the
first time. A plant at Brandenburg was set up to build
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 1.1 liter four cylinder
engine with 23 hp and a top speed of 85 km/h.
Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle with
a self-supporting all steel body. They called it the
"Olympia." With it's 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
Opel presents the extremely successful,
"Captain." With a 2.5 liter six cylinder
engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension,
hydraulic shock absorbers, hot water heating w/electric
blower and central speedometer. 25,374 Captains left the
factory before W.W.II, by order of the government,
brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop.
GM re-established at Rüsselsheim.
The Opel Captain of 1951 and the Opel Lightning of 1953
were the first new developments after the war. The
Rüsselsheimer factory had been nearly completely
destroyed. Reconstruction began in 1945 and shortly
thereafter in 1946, the Opel Lightning trucks began to
leave the factory. 1947 began passenger car production
with a revised version of the Opel Olympia. By 1950, the
annual production of the plant once again reached over
Leaflets went out describing the Opel Record as, "a
star of it's class." With it's, "shark fish
muzzle" it took on an aggressive look. The Opel
Record was inexpensive, roomy, fast and extremely
In June the Opel Captain P appeared on the market. At 4.8
meters long, the Captain P had a completely radical body
style and two colored lacquer finish. By mid 1959
approximately 35,000 units had left the plant.
Opel revealed the "Experimental GT," in
September. It was not a production vehicle, but was used
primarily in research. A brochure was made available to
the public to put the GT on the map. It was to be sporty
and affordable. Opel also wanted the car to be
aerodynamic, so the GT-designers used a wind channel at
the University of Stuttgart to test the car's design.
The frame and spring rear axle and the stabilization bar
originated from the Opel Kadett B-Series as well as the
double-armed front axle with leaf spring. Late in the
summer of 1968 Opel launched the Opel GT, with two
versions, the GT 1100 producing 60 HP and cost 10,767 DM
and the GT 1900 with 90 HP went for about 1,100 DM more.
In 1969 a targa style model, the 'Aero-GT' was shown at
the Auto Show in Frankfurt, Germany, but it was never put
into production. Production of the GT ended in August
1973 with a total production of 103,463 cars