The year of birth of the famous automobile company can be considered 1899. More than a hundred years ago the company began its uneasy, long, but also glorious way. And the founder of the company appeared long before this date. As early as the 17th century, when the Thirty Years’ War was over, retired soldiers decided to settle near the Rhine in southern Germany. So in the hilly terrain there appeared the Obbel farm. And the peasant farmers, who came from it, began to be called Obobelyami.
That’s why this name was from the local native Tonghez Opel. And he lived in the large German city of Rosselsheim. Here he was born in 1837, the son of Adam. This boy has shown his curiosity and interest in various mechanisms since childhood. Adam began his journey as an apprentice for a blacksmith. But when he grew up, I decided to go to the dream city of my childhood – to Paris.
There, a 21-year-old boy got a job at a factory that creates sewing machines. Here, Opel received good experience and knowledge. With them, he returned to Germany, where he opened a small firm that creates all the same sewing machines. “The factory of sewing machines of Adam Opel” appeared in 1868. Enterprises developed rapidly – a year later 40 people worked on it.
By 1886 the company had already 300 employees. At this time the factory begins to master the production of the wheeled wheels. Shortly before this, in 1884, Adam Opel visited the exhibition in France. There he saw a new mode of transport – a bicycle, deciding to master his release and at his factory.
Soon the first bicycle from the company “Opel” appeared. Until 1895, the company was able to produce two thousand such devices, while remaining the largest in the whole Germany sewing machine manufacture. It was Opel who first created inflatable tires for bicycles.
And in 1895 Adam Opel died, leaving his case to the care of five heirs at once. His sons – Frederick, Karl, Ludwig, Henry and Wilhelm have long helped his father in the factory. The Opel brothers became famous for their love of sports. They were actively engaged in bicycle racing. This fascination with victories has made the company’s name known not only in Germany, but also in Europe.
In 1897, in Berlin, opened a showroom, which was invited and the famous brothers Opel. They were amazed at the sight of the new car, immediately conceived to establish its production. It promised good prospects. Only here for the production of machines was also needed a patent.
The required document was purchased in January 1899, immediately the agreement with the company was signed by Friedrich Lutzmann of Dessau. His factory, which produced self-propelled crews, became the property of the Opel family. The former owner became the technical director of the new production. In the spring of the same year the plant produced the first Opel car. From this moment it is customary to count the history of the company.
The first car, called the Lutzman Opel, was single-cylinder, and its engine was under the driver’s seat. Outwardly this car was more like a carriage than a modern car. The design was very original, but also cumbersome. To start the engine, it was necessary to untwist a huge flywheel. That car was not in high demand, but the Opel brothers did not embarrass. They understood that from the first experience one should not expect special success. In 1900 the German company signed a contract with the French car factory Darrak.
In 1902 appeared the model 10 / 12PS from the company “Opel”. This car already boasted a two-cylinder engine with a capacity of 1884 cm³ with a water pump. And he developed a maximum speed of 45 km / h. In the market this car proved to be quite successful. Good sales helped the brothers to improve their finances and begin to develop their own cars. In the same year, two more similar models were released – 12/14 had an increased engine capacity, and a 13/30 egg-like body. As a result, in 1902 the company was able to become the second largest producer in Germany.
In 1903, the 20 / 24PS appeared, which was distinguished by the first four-cylinder engine for the company, as well as the L-shaped arrangement of the valves. The designers of the company managed to connect a pair of engines from the 12/14 model. And in 1905 “Opel” began to produce cars of a higher class. So, model 35 / 40PS had the engine in volume of 6,9 liters. However, as before, the main volume of output was accounted for by subcompacts. The most popular model in those days was the “Doctorvagen” double. The machine received its nickname because of its popularity among rural doctors.
In the same year 1905 the company began to build a new plant, which was entirely focused on the production of cars. The factory was named Ludwigsbau in honor of Ernst Ludwig, Hessian Duke. Next year, the company opens the plant in Berlin and begins to produce cars that are fully developed inside Opel.
In 1906 the company celebrated a significant anniversary – a thousandth car was created. That year became notable yet and attempts to create the first armored car from the Opel. This model was equipped with 6 mm armor. The car had even a pair of machine guns, four quick-firing pistols, a card table and even a telescope. Nevertheless, the military novelty did not become a serial one, she did not like Kaiser Wilhelm personally.
The history of the company was only a few years old, but it was already known all over the world thanks to successful models and active sports life. For example, in 1907, in the races arranged by the Kaiser, the Opel cars not only won, but also attracted the attention of the monarch himself. Wilhelm II even ordered several machine manufacturers for his personal garage. These cars had somewhat greater reliability with respect to serial copies.
The company “Opel” is gradually beginning to popularize its products by reducing the cost of machinery and their prices for consumers. By 1909, cars with one- and two-cylinder engines became part of history. Friedrich Opel, also a fan of all equipment, after his trip to America came back with the idea of unification and standardization of all the units of the car.
In the future, the company widely used this approach when creating its cars. “Opel” created a modular system, which allowed to create a variety of combinations of chassis, engines and bodies. So laid the foundations of conveyor production.
And in 1911 a fire at the sewing machine plant destroyed most of the enterprise. So “Opel” completely abandoned this direction, focusing on the more relevant. After that, the production facilities were significantly reconstructed, and the technical fleet of the machines was updated. This affected the future very quickly.
By 1912 the company boasted the release of a ten-thousandth car. So “Opel” becomes the largest automobile company in the country. Annually the company produces more than 3300 machines. In those years, the “Opel” logo appeared, which began to flaunt both on the machines themselves and in the advertising of products. Interestingly, the cars of this German manufacturer even got to Russia.
During the First World War, the company produced trucks for military purposes. But experts did not stop research. In 1916, the first car with a six-cylinder engine of 4.7 liters appeared. After the end of hostilities, the company, like the whole country, fell into a period of crisis.
Opel developed less quickly and even lost some of its production capacity. The company managed to hold onto the market in difficult years, although in 1920 only 1154 cars were produced. But the most difficult year was 1923, when the Opel produced only 910 cars. It is also good that the economy began to recover, and with it production.
For the company, 1924 became a landmark. Opel invested a million gold marks at once in its modernization, which allowed the first in the country to start assembling cars in a conveyor way.The company focuses on cheapness and simple assembly. The popular model was the 4 / 12PS, which was suspiciously similar to the Citroen 5CV (the French manufacturer even sued). From 1924 to 1931, Opel produced 119484 cars of this brand, which became a record company for the production of cars of the same brand.
In 1929, it became clear that the world economic crisis was coming. The company was looking for a strong patron, eventually becoming a member of the corporation General Motors. This allowed Opel to retain its freedom of action, and strengthen its position in new markets. Representative offices of the company appeared in China, South America and Japan. And in 1935 the model “Olympia” was presented. The machine was the first to be produced in Germany with an all-metal bearing body.
In two years, Opel produced 82 thousand units. During the assembly of this model, fundamental innovations were implemented, which influenced the entire world automobile industry. The body of the machine was made separately from the mechanical part, which made it possible to speed up the collection and simplify it. Even before the Second World War, the company managed to produce such successful models as Super 6, Admiral, Kapitan.
With the beginning of the Second World War, there was no longer any question of control by the Americans. The president of “General Motors” even bitterly said that the company “Opel” is now managed by Hitler. During the war, the company was engaged in the creation of weapons and military vehicles for the army. Now, the Opel produced trucks, tractors, howitzers, and it’s a good idea to earn money on it. The company was so adept at producing heavy vehicles that the emblem of such successful trucks soon passed to other cars.
After the war, most of the equipment was exported by the Soviet Union. Partly recovering its capacity, the Opel began to produce first trucks for Americans, and since 1947 and cars. A new era in the history of the company began in 1962 with the construction of a new plant in Bochum. It starts to produce the Cadet 2.
It became a bestseller, until 1991, more than 11 million units of this model were sold. In the 1970s, the company began to develop new models, fundamentally different from those available on the market. The fact is that the oil crisis put forward new requirements for cars, so the designers of the company began to look for more economical solutions.
In 1971, the company released its 10 millionth car. In the 1980s, it began to work on reducing the toxicity of exhaust gases. Opel is one of the first to equip its cars with catalytic converters, which helped to reduce the number of harmful substances in the exhaust.
In the 1990s, the company’s main emphasis was on improving the safety of passengers. Since 1995, all the cars of the Opel are equipped with airbags.
Today the company “Opel” continues to develop successfully, pleasing with new models. Only in the post-war period there were more than forty. And more than 25 thousand people work for a German company.