May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on May 4, 2015

Opel LogoBrief History About Opel

Opel was founded in 1862 in Germany by Adam Opel. The company originally manufactured sewing machines, then added bicycles in 1886. In 1895 Adam Opel dies and his wife and sons take over, adding automobile manufacturing to the business in 1899 and even gets involved in motor racing that same year.

In 1901 Adams sons partnered with Darracq Automobiles and created the bodies to go on the Darracq chassis. In 1902 Opel started to design their own cars, which went into production in 1906, ending their relationship with Darracq.

In 1911 a fire broke out at their factory and when they rebuilt it, they decided to just concentrate on automobiles. Opel are also successful in motorsport and design and developed large innovative engines, that allow them to win many races.

Opel create the first mass automotive production assembly line in Germany in the early 20’s, which helps keep their costs down and allow then to reduce their cars price considerably, helping boost sales.

In 1928 they build the Opel RAK 1 (rocket-propelled car), that goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just eight seconds.

In 1929 General Motors Company took a large share in Opel, then full control in 1931. Under GM, the Opel brand has been used for Buick, Holden and Vauxhall vehicles. Opel was now the largest car manufacturer in Europe.

In 1935 Opel produced the first mass produced vehicle with a unibody construction.

After WW2, Opel had to rebuild itself and started to build trucks in 1946, followed by car production in 1948. However due to the war and the state of Germany at the time, GM (a US company), wasn’t too keen to take back full control of Opel at first, but eventually relented. Opel then expanded its position within the automotive industry in the middle market during the 50’s and 60’s gaining much lost ground and increasing its output and factory count to beyond the its pre-war state. They also decided to get more sporty and produced a number of sport versions of their cars and also add the Opel GT to the model line up in 1968.

In the 70’s GM decided to merge Vauxhall and Opel and also introduced the Manta. They also win the 1974 European Rally Championship in an Ascona A.

The 80’s saw more GM/Opel factories open and sales were very good, but there was a gradual shift to both Vauxhall and Opel cars being mostly a badge difference between them.

The 90’s and new millennium see more technology, development and environmental issues throughout the automotive industry and Opel are at the forefront in many respects.

In 2012 GM/Opel allied itself with PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) to share resources to keep costs down.

Opel GT
GT 1968-1973

Opel Manta A
Manta A 1970-1975

Opel Manta B2
Manta B1 1975-1981 & B2 & CC 1982-1988

Opel Monza
Monza A1 1978-1982 & A2 1982-1987

See Vauxhall for Speedster (VX220)