Innovative: Opel Design Studio first of its kind in Europe
Ground-breaking: Style icon Experimental GT celebrates 50th birthday
Opel design philosophy: “Sculptural artistry meets German precision“
Rüsselsheim/Essen. Opel showcases ten design icons and concept cars at this year’s Techno Classica in Essen (15.04 - 19.04.2015). The rare models on display range from the Experimental GT, the Diplomat A coupé and the Genève Study to the GTC Concept, and – as an example of Opel’s current design language – the new Corsa. The exhibit demonstrates that exciting design is one of Opel’s core brand values, a message underlined back in 1964, when Opel opened the first design studio owned by a European automaker. It was there that, for the first time, professionally trained designers and modelers – not just design draftsmen and model makers as had been the norm until then – began creating and developing the design of future vehicles. Opel welcomes all the friends of the brand, as well as all those interested in automotive history, to its 650 m2 stand in Hall 2 at Essen.
The beginnings of automobile design
Opel’s classic collection comprises about 500 cars that embody more than 150 years of the brand’s engineering expertise and embrace various style and design eras. Opel entered the automotive world in 1899 with the Patent Motor Car “System Lutzmann”. While horse-drawn carriages initially served as the starting point for motor car engineering for all manufacturers, immediately after the turn of the century the first approaches to developing specific automotive design characteristics quickly took shape.
Opel engineers were already experimenting with the streamlined shape back then and Opel models from this era often carried the sobriquet “Torpedo”, highlighting their streamlined frontal design. The influence of such design on the shape of future cars was continually growing.
In 1964, Rüsselsheim-based Opel was the first European automaker to open its own design center, still called “styling studios” back then. It accommodated the first design organization owned by an automaker outside North America. Just one year after operations began, the first product from the team of Opel designers and modelers made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in 1965. Their stunning Opel Experimental GT was the first true concept car from a European automaker. Hardly anyone had expected such a sporty concept car from Opel. And even less expected was that the Rüsselsheim carmaker would bring such a trend-setting vision to the road: in 1968, Opel presented the production-ready GT sports car. Today, the Opel GT is one of the most coveted Opel cars on the classic car market.
The premium-class models from Rüsselsheim’s KAD series are now just as sought after as the Opel GT. Within this model range, the 1965 Diplomat A Coupé occupies a very special place. Like the Experimental GT, it is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and it is a true rarity. Just 347 of these coupés, based on the Diplomat V8 sedan, were built by the Osnabrück coachbuilders Karmann between 1964 and 1968.
Opel again caused a sensation with another study at the 1969 IAA in Frankfurt. The Opel CD (Coupé Diplomat) thrilled industry experts with its striking, tapered form. The fiberglass body was based on a platform about 30 centimeters shorter than the Diplomat B, together with a wheelbase of 2.5 meters. For demonstration purposes, the glass dome that served as the cabin roof could be folded back as a whole with the windshield. The lattice model displayed at the Techno Classica gives an insight into what was at the time highly innovative technology in the Opel CD.
In 1975 another breath-taking concept study made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show – the aptly named Genève Concept. Designers in Advanced Engineering again created a two-seat sports coupé, this time adopting a mid-engine principle. The shape was even more tapered and streamlined and it was, of course, again fitted with pop-up headlamps.
Opel has continued presenting exciting studies in the small-car segment. At the Geneva Motor Show in 1982, the Corsa Spider, a small two-seat roadster penned by Opel designer Hideo Kodama, was unveiled. It was the forerunner of a completely new small-car range below the Kadett, which debuted in the fall of 1982 as the Corsa. With sales totaling more than 12.4 million units, this model range is today one of the most popular in the small car segment.
With the Insignia study in 2003 and above all with the unveiling of the GTC Concept in 2007, a new design era began at Opel, summed up by the phrase: “Sculptural artistry meets German precision”. Sculpted body surfacing and 3D headlamps are signature styling motifs of the studies created by Chief Designer Mark Adams.
As the latest example of this new design language, the fifth generation Opel Corsa will be displayed at the Rüsselsheim automaker’s stand. The new Corsa shares similarities with the successful lifestyle-oriented Opel ADAM, such as its low grille. And with its wing-shaped headlamps and that signature Opel, ‘blade’ body side, it represents the current, further evolution of Opel design.