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Opel - History (2)

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After Adam Opel`s death in 1895 the responsibility for the meanwhile very huge factory complex rests solely with his wife and sons. The idea of car production arises when in 1898 the sales of Opel bicycles collapse by increasing competition. Two of the Opel brothers, Fritz and Wilhelm, get to know Friedrich Lutzmann, at this time the third-biggest german automobile manufacturer behind Benz and Daimler. Since five years already he produces cars in his 'Anhaltische Motorwagenfabrik' (Anhalt -part of Saxonia- motor vehicle factory) and now belongs with nearly 20 vehicles per year to the three largest producers in Germany before the turn of the century. Opel buys primarily with the small firm of Lutzmann, the know-how and employs the boss himself as a developer for two years.

From 1901 to 1907 Opel also produces motorcycles. In the beginning these are reinforced bicycle frames with relatively big 3-HP single-cylinder engines. In addition to the pedal transmission with chain is still the leather belt drive of the engine. Pedalling is possible and even recommended sometimes! Later there is a two-cylinder engine with 3.5 HP.

The range of motor vehicles is expanded to 5 models between 1899 and 1902. Nevertheless, the cooperation between the Opel brothers and Friedrich Lutzmann is a losing deal. The developer lacks the engineer`s ability to use new concepts in construction and production. The French car production is about to get ahead of the German one. Fritz and Wilhelm Opel engage Alexandre Darracq as a partner. From 1902 no more Lutzmann-vehicles are built, but French chassis' are provided with own superstructures. Darracq is active in all of Europe, e.g., in Italy. In the first year of cooperation nearly as many vehicles as in all the years before are built. Opel experiments thoroughly with own engine versions, the result are two-cylinder and later also double two-cylinder. Looking back, the licence agreement has primarily led to all-in-all self production at Opel.

From 1906 on the company produces independently. The 'doctor's vehicle' from 1909, a vehicle for self-drivers with easy mechanics shoots up production figures immediately. Also the various results in motor sports play a big role. Until the beginning of the First World War the company becomes biggest manufacturer in Germany. 05/12

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