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Hats Off to Opel!


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One carmaker we have never really discussed in depth has a somewhat weird history of badge-engineered vehicles while also maintaining a solid livery of high-end race cars. Opel Automobile GmbH began as a sewing-machine manufacturer, founded by Adam Opel in Germany in 1862 and transformed to a coach-maker and eventually an automotive company. Its vehicles have been badged as marquee vehicles for Vauxhall, Holden, Buick, and Cadillac as well as nearly every other brand that GM has managed. Opel’s journey is punctuated by a number of sales and takeovers that have frequently redefined the brand and utilized their vehicles in unique ways.

The Buick Regal, Cadillac Catera, and Saturn L-Series are all Opel cars that were badge-engineered and sold in the US. Though Opel has not had an American model since the 1970s, many American cars are built on Opel platforms. Opel has always been known for small, quick vehicles, and the best-selling Chevy Cavalier is one of their designs. In fact, the Cavalier Z24 was the basis was built on the same body as several Opel racer cars and rally cars. In Europe, the Opel Kadett, Omega, Insignia, Ampera, and Astra K models have all won car-of-the-year awards. In motorsport, the Opel Adam has seen significant victories in world rally championships and was just released as a consumer performance car in 2014.

Opel’s lineage stretches back more than a century and a half, with this past Thursday, January 21st being its 158th anniversary. The company has proven that diversity and a willingness to partner with multiple manufacturers is one way to long-term success and staying power. So today, we wish a happy belated birthday to one of the automotive world’s oldest firms, Opel Automobile!

-Trey Fennell

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