Tag Archive: opel


Adam Opel (1837 – 1895), a German,  founded the company Opel Nahmaschinen to manufacture sewing machines in 1862. In 1886, he expanded in to the manufacture of Bi-cycles. At his death in 1895, Opel was the market leader in both sewing machines and Bi-cycles.

After Adam Opel’s death , his sons Fritz Opel and Wilhelm Opel decided to design and manufacture Automobiles. In 1899 , they teamed up with Friedrich Lutzmann to develop a Motor car and the Patentmotorwagen “Systeme Lutzmann” was born.

The design of the Patentmotorwagen was outdated and only 65 units were made before stopping manufacture.

In 1901 , the Opel brothers entered in to a licensing agreement with Automobiles Darracq to manufacture and sell Darracq cars – Opel body on a Darracq chasis, under the brand Opel-Darracq. A 1902 Opel -Darracq –

Opel – Darracq partnership continued till 1906, by which time Opel started developing and manufacturing their own engines and car. Opel-Darracq partnership was dissolved in 1907.

In 1909, Opel introduced their small car – Opel 4/8 PS. This car came to be known as the “Doctor’s Car” as it was very useful and easy to use for physicians making house calls. It was one of the first cars to have Opel insignia in the radiator.

In 1924 , Opel introduced a cheaper 2-seater car called Opel Laubfrosch – meaning tree frog. The name tree frog due to its protruding headlamps, boat-like rear and green paint. The car was manufactured in the first  mass production facility of Opel  in Germany. There was an unsuccessful claim by Citroen on the originality of the design this car.

In 1928, Opel was acquired by General Motors and became subsidiary of General Motors covering the European market. Opel went on to manufacture many well known models – Opel Kapitan, Opel Olympia, Opel Kadett etc. A 1936 Opel Olympia which was released to commemorate the Berlin Olympics –

During the war, Opel made trucks, the famous being the Opel Blitz – German for lightning. The lightning symbol forms a part of Opel’s logo today. A Opel Blitz truck –

The evolution of  Opel Logo –

The first logo with initials A and O – 1862

The Opel “eye” logo which was used till about 1935

The Opel logo during the wars – airship inside an “O” depicting German Engineering.

The current Opel logo from 2010 onwards –

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Alexandre Darracq (1855-1931) , a Frenchman , created Gladiator Cycle Company in 1891 and was very successful in the business. In 1896 , he sold the bicycle company and formed Automobiles Darracq et Cie. Initially Automobiles Darracq was involved in electric carriages, Millet motorcycles and Leon Bollee automobiles.  In 1900, Darracq built its first car and was the first to use pressed steel chasis and was one of the first cars to be manufactured using factory machine as compared to skilled labour.
A 1901 , 6.5 HP Darracq –
Alexandre Darracq expanded his geographical footprint by licensing his car designs.
In 1902, he licensed his design to Adam Opel of Germany who made cars branded as Opel-Darracq in Germany.
In 1905 , he formed A. Darracq and Company in Britain.
1906 , he licensed his design to a group of Italians and formed the company Societa Automobili Italiana Darracq (SAID) in Milan. This company did not do well and in 1909, a new company was formedAnonima Lombarda Fabbrica Autombili (A.L.F.A). This company flourished and was later taken over by Nicola Romeo which became Alfa Romeo.  A 1910, 24 HP A.L.F.A-
In 1907 , he licensed his design to Spain and formed Sociedad Anonima Espanola de Automiviles Darracq.
Darracq was heavily involved in racing and Darracq cars won many race events. Darracq was holding the land speed record in 1904 and 1905.Louis Chevrolet was one of the famous test drivers for Darracq. A Darracq racer –
Alexandre Darracq retired from business in 1913 and sold out his holdings to Britisher Owen Clegg who took charge of Automobiles Darracq. In 1919, Darracq acquired Talbot and in the next year Talbot-Darracq was merged with Sunbeam to form Sunbeam-Talbot- Darracq (STD)combine.
The STD combine collapsed in 1935 and was taken over by Rootes group. Rootes group went in to financial trouble in 1964 and was acquired by Chrysler Eurpoe. In 1978, Peugeot and Renault acquired the brands from Chrysler Europe.
The Darracq logo –