From sewing machines to bicycles to automobiles–Opel’s history is rich in treasures.
Founded by Adam Opel in 1862, the tradition-rich brand has created legendary automotive bestsellers, including the early “Doktorwagen” or Opel Olympia, Kadett and Kapitän as well as the highly successful current models Corsa, Mokka and the Astra. But through countless decades, Opel stays driven by the spirit of its founder: technology and innovations, from sewing machines to electric cars.
As we celebrate the 160 years of Opel, join us as we take a trip through the history of the lightning bolt brand.
The beginnings: From sewing machines to the biggest bicycle maker in the world
August 1862, Adam Opel assembled his first sewing machine in Rüsselsheim, laying the foundation stone for the young Opel company. Production figures quickly rose, and as early as 1868, the company soon developed into one of the largest sewing machine manufacturers in Germany and exported to the whole of Europe.
After the sewing machines, Opel built up its next successful pillar with the bicycle. In 1886 the first penny-farthing bicycle was built in Rüsselsheim–making Opel one of the first bicycle manufacturers in Germany. Opel was quick to adopt modern technology and designs, allowing them to become the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer by the 1920s.
With heart and mind: Innovative bestsellers and emotion arousing cars
Over the decades, Opel has repeatedly set trends with new models and vehicle variants and created true bestsellers. The most enduring and traditional model line was the Kadett, the first version of which saw the light of day in 1936. In 1962, the Kadett A became a million-seller: as a compact car, it was the driving force behind the German “economic miracle”. While the company had already underlined its reputation as a manufacturer of affordable models, Opel presented the Experimental GT, the first concept car from a European car manufacturer, at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt in 1965.
Shortly following the Experimental GT’s launch was the extraordinary Manta sports coupe that became a cult car in the 1970s and 1980s. Even back then, the Manta A inspired by its design and characteristic front “visor”, which today adorns all-new Opel models from the current Mokka to the Grandland as the Opel Vizor.
Despite having a history rich in icons, Opel continues to innovate, creating sustainable options that meet the needs of modern drivers.