50 years of Opel Design Studio: icons of Opel design

Consider interesting Opel models.

Opel GT

Often compared to a classic Coca-Cola bottle by designers, the Opel GT’s iconic two-seater truly revolutionizes the sport coupe class with many unconventional styling and design elements. The two-door body features a low, pointed front end. While the rear end is characterized by plastic volumes and curves. However, the strongest associations with a bottle of cola are caused by the combination of massive wing arches and a narrow «waist» of the middle part of the body. Built into the door area.


The styling of the GT is the work of Erhard Schnell, who also designed the 1965 Experimental GT concept studio. Schnell, who later designed the Corsa A and the highly successful Calibra, managed to turn the outline of the GT concept into a production car in just three years. While not allowing the vibrant nature of the original concept to be lost in the production process. Movable front studio lights are becoming a reality. And the idea of ​​ditching a real trunk in the rear is being realized. In the limited space behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats. There is space only for luggage.


«It’s just more fun to fly,» GT’s marketing message promises to drivers. Indeed, the Opel sports model is highly appreciated not only by brand customers. But also by many rally racers. This is especially true of the version with a powerful 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine from the Rekord C model. In which the GT (at its weight of one ton) demonstrates truly fantastic dynamic performance. Unit with a maximum power of 90 hp allowed to reach a speed of 185 km / h. Which was a surprisingly high value for that time.

Despite its sporting pedigree, the GT is extremely attentive to its passengers. Door hinges go deep into the roof and provide easy entry and exit. A design detail that is extremely important in those years when the minivan takes its first steps in society.

Admiral B

Opel introduced the second generation of its line of luxury sedans, commonly known as KAD (Kapitän, Admiral, Diplomat), at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show. The Admiral again sits in the middle position with a body shortened by 4.8 centimeters. And a width reduced by 5.0 centimeters compared to the previous model — one of the reasons why the new version of 4.91 meters in length is described in the Opel press release as a car with compact external dimensions. At the same time, the new Admiral. With its clean design with smooth lines and characteristic horizontal lighting, looks much more solid than its predecessor. It also has echoes of the American automotive style of the time.

In the models of its top model range, Opel also pays special attention to comfort. “The interior exudes the feeling of comfort you expect from a tastefully furnished living room,” reads an excerpt from a press release from the day. And the level of comfort can be further enhanced by ordering an air conditioning system. And a stereo audio system with radio and cassette player. The engineers also pay special attention to safety. Creating a body structure with crumple zones, a stable passenger compartment. A shock-resistant steering column and disc brakes. With its state-of-the-art De Dion rear suspension system, 2.8L six-cylinder engine and a maximum output of 165 hp.

Manta A

«When designers dream professionally, their dreams reflect the future of the automobile.» This quote from Opel designer George Gallion is a particularly apt illustration of the essence of the Manta A. Introduced in 1969, the two-door sports model entered the market in 1970. Two months before the introduction of the four-door Ascona sedan. A, with which it shares a running gear and transmission. Galion, who at the time was deputy head of exterior design at Opel. Had limited time to work on styling the Manta. Opel’s brand’s answer to the Ford Capri. “My then boss, Chuck Jordan, commissioned me to create a model that could compete with the Capri,” he says. «Chuck went on vacation saying, ‘Do this while I’m away so I don’t have to show you how it’s done when I get back.’


The design of the Manta features clean, crisp lines and shapes inspired by attractive Italian sports coupes. Doors with frameless windows, a simple rear layout and a clearly structured front end quickly make the model an affordable dream car for a younger generation. Of course, the acceptable price is also the result of using the technological platform and many of the existing elements of Askona. “For example, we didn’t have time to develop turn signals and headlights for specific models. So we carefully considered what might suit us and settled on Olympia headlights. Which had just been discontinued,” says Galion.

Today, Manta is rightfully considered a cult car — thanks in large part to its clean lines. For example, at events that attract many fans and collectors. Such as the Opel Villas Classic Car Weekend in Rüsselsheim. Well-preserved Mantas are among the most popular exhibits along with the GT. For Opel, the Manta is one of the most successful developments in the company’s history. Between 1970 and 1988, the brand managed to sell more than one million copies of this model.

Corsa A

Cars are constantly growing. In small but inevitable steps, the small Kadett is gradually becoming a full-fledged compact car. And this, in turn, creates room for innovation. In 1982, the moment came, and the new Opel Corsa appeared at the start.

With a length of only 3.60 meters, this is a really small car, the three- and five-door versions of which manage to achieve a class-record aerodynamic efficiency of 0.36. To give the latest addition to the Opel lineup a solid presence on the road despite its modest exterior dimensions. The designer in charge of the lineup, Erhard Schnell. Decided to use distinctly prominent fender flares. Not only do they improve aerodynamic performance, but they also make the new Corsa more mature and stable.

Large glazing areas that provide good visibility and hint at a wedge-shaped body profile are one of the main design features of the smallest Opel model. In some markets. The model is also available as a sedan version with a separate luggage compartment. The incoming airflow is optimally directed upwards with a flat-shaped front cover. Creating excellent aerodynamic performance. The wearing of hats was still in vogue at the time. With the press release noting that «The Little Corsa is quite large in terms of roof height» and adding, «Therefore, Corsa passengers should only remove their hats when greeting someone.»

Erhard Schnell’s ambition is to give the Corsa a masculine shape. Which is why the model’s unique design is dominated by right angles and clear lines. All of this is in stark contrast to the traditional ideas of a small model. And the trunk volume, ranging from 225 to 845 liters. Makes the small Opel model ideally prepared for the most serious shopping tour.


Omega A

Opel introduced the Omega in 1986 as a successor to the hugely successful Rekord range. The company has invested an impressive amount of more than DM 2 billion (1.02 billion euros) into the development of the new mid-range model. And the result is more than impressive both from a technological and purely stylistic point of view. Thanks to the experience gained by the design team and the brand’s aerodynamicists when creating the Tech1 concept studio presented in 1981. The forms of which turned out to be quite close to those of the future production Omega. The new sedan managed to achieve the lowest drag coefficient in its class of 0.28. And the most significant contribution to the realization of this result is undoubtedly the drop-shaped body profile of the new model.

Revolutionary technological design features such as flexible body joint seals. Smooth body panel surfaces and glazing with special measures to improve the flow around the side windows. As well as retracted door handles and wipers hidden under the hood. Also contribute to the overall improvement in aerodynamics. The «dipping» of the wipers and the rounded shape of the front end that deforms on impact also reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists in crashes.

In addition to excellent aerodynamics, the new generation of 1.8- and 2.0-liter low-emission four-cylinder engines also contribute to the low fuel consumption of the new Opel Omega, With average consumption figures ranging from 6.4 to 8.4. l/100 km. Innovative solutions have also been implemented in the design of the instrument panel and interior. Where newly designed, easy-to-read instrumentation with LCD displays is available as an option.

Kadett E

In 1984, Opel’s designers and engineers succeeded once again in setting new standards in the industry with the introduction of the Kadett E. The new development was based on the desire to be significantly more economical than the previous model. The goal was to significantly reduce body drag without increasing the Kadett D’s compact exterior dimensions. After a total of 1,200 hours in the wind tunnel, the development team was ready to report mission success.

Without performance drawbacks such as excessive cabin heat due to the steep windshield. The new Kadett E manages to achieve a drag coefficient of just 0.32. This achievement is second only to the most dynamic version of the Kadett E GSi with a coefficient of 0.30. Which makes the five-seater model with an overall length of almost four meters. With a wedge-shaped body the world record for the lowest aerodynamics. drag among stock cars.

Viewed from above, the shape of the Kadett GSi resembles the shape of a water drop. Which from an aerodynamic point of view creates the ideal conditions for reducing the resistance to the oncoming air flow. This advantage prompted the Opel press service to state that the aerodynamic drag of the body of the Kadett GSi model with a total frontal area of ​​1.9 sq. the size of grandma’s frying pan.

A big contributor to the great success of the Kadett E. With over 3.8 million units produced in nine years, is the wide range of model options. Buyers can choose from seven versions — a three- and five-door hatchback and station wagon. A hatchback with an unglazed cargo area, a sedan and an elegant convertible.


Corsa B

The slogan for replacing the first Corsa with the second generation in 1993 was «Enough of the masculinity». Sharp corners and edges give way to smooth curves and smooth surfaces. The first sketches of the Corsa B shapes are the work of Hideo Kodama. Who shares the main design goals of the second generation Corsa: “At that time, we wanted to create a model that would appeal to women. Today, the concept of a “women’s car” is completely unacceptable. As it is considered a sign of discrimination, but then everything was completely different.”

In fact, more than 60 percent of Corsa A buyers are the fair sex. And softer forms in the design of the second generation are a sign of the manufacturer’s understanding of the realities of the market. The narrow A-pillars give the impression of a roof hovering over the rest of the body. A design idea first presented to the public in the Opel Junior Concept at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983.

“In the history of design, the Corsa B was indeed a very accurate hit,” Kodama notes today. “We were able to make much better use of space thanks to a wheelbase that was 10 centimeters longer than the previous model.” The compartment has enough space for five passengers and plenty of luggage. “The windshield was positioned even further forward and at a much lower angle. So we had more leeway when planning the interior,” explains Kodama.

Today, the Corsa model is considered a recognized favorite of the market. It is one of the most popular small cars on the German market. With more than 10 million vehicles rolled off the assembly line in its first 30 years of production.


When asked if the importance of computers is growing in his work. Opel designer Erhard Schnell answers briefly and clearly — «The computer does not have creativity and talent.» According to the stylist, in order to express his thoughts and ideas on paper. He needs a pencil in his hand. And it was this method that Schnell relied on when creating the unique shapes of the Opel Calibra in the late 1980s. The clean, crisp lines of this sporty coupe have become a cornerstone in the design history of the Opel brand.

With a drag coefficient of just 0.26, the model was the most aerodynamically efficient production car in the world at the time of its market premiere in 1989. In this he was far ahead of his time. Pure dynamic forms are based on the technological basis of the Vectra A. But the connection with it can not be traced in any of the details of the perfectly tailored body. Elongated and rounded, it has possibly the narrowest headlights ever seen prior to the introduction of xenon technology. LEDs and laser lights. The Calibra is a natural successor to the Manta and, like its predecessor. The Calibra shares the technology behind the sedan of the same class. And also, like Manta,

This is good enough reason for the readers of the German motoring publication Auto Zeitung to declare the model the sports coupe of the year. In early 1991 they gave their preference to the Calibra competitors from Stuttgart and Munich. Awarding it the best-designed sports car award in the «Beautiful aerodynamic marvel» section. Even years later, Schnell describes the character of the Calibra this way. “Personally, I found the rounded shape to be more pleasing and complete. Too many bangs create a certain sense of instability of forms».


Tigra A

The shapes of the Tigra compact sports coupe are the work of Japanese Opel designer Hideo Kodama, and the technological platform of the new model is borrowed from the Corsa B. Unlike the body of the Corsa, the 2 + 2 model has a pronounced middle side. pillars on the roof. A hood with accentuated creases and a domed window at the rear. “In a sports coupe, it is important not only to strictly observe the principle of expediency,” says one of the texts describing the qualities of the new model with two doors and an overall length of less than four meters. «Emotions are not just allowed here — they are desired.»


The US-designed Sundym tinted glass on the rear window helps reduce cabin temperatures by four to five degrees. And thus performs not only an aesthetic but also a functional task. The interior is multifunctional and practical — a rarity for sports coupes of that time. Kodama describes the functional characteristics of the model as follows. “People who choose small models do so because of the lower price or because of the possibility of easier parking in large cities. From this point of view. A car is not only a way to be mobile and enjoy driving, but also a means of transportation.” To provide maximum space for all the owner’s personal luggage. The Tigra trunk offers flexible volume that can be increased by folding down the rear seatback.

In the design of the Tigers, Kodama chose to create a contrast between soft and determined forms. The soft curves of the lines contrast strongly with the pronounced wedge shape of the body. And the sharp edges on the front cover contrast with the soft outlines of the air vents in the front bumper. Production of the dynamic sports coupe in the Opel range began in 1994 and ended in 2001.


Zafira A

On April 16, 1999, a truly revolutionary model appeared on the market in the form of the Zafira A. As the successor to the Sintra model. The new van builds on Astra’s technological backbone and impresses both with its clear. Distinct styling with a distinctly high-tech look that underscores the original compact van concept of a high level of functionality. And flexibility combined with a sense of plenty of free space inside.

The factor that makes the new Zafira truly unique is its innovative Flex7 seating system. Which allows the compact seven-seat vehicle to be quickly and easily converted into a 1,700-litre two-seat van without having to dismantle it. seats. Thanks to an intelligent mechanism, the individual third-row seats can be fully folded down and stowed away in the floor recesses. Providing a flat load area floor surface. If the owner requires additional luggage space. The second row of seats can also be folded forward and locked behind the front seats.

At the same time, Zafira is much more than just a means to carry large amounts of luggage. The model also impresses with its automotive qualities in terms of comfort. And road behavior thanks to the new DSA (Dynamic Safety) suspension settings. In addition, the Zafira boasts a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.33 and a curb weight of just 1,390kg. Significantly less than any family van of comparable capacity. Best-in-class aerodynamics and low weight also contribute significantly to the Zafira’s surprisingly low fuel consumption. In the base version with a maximum output of 100 hp. The new model consumes an average of just 8.3 liters per 100 kilometers.



In March 2001, the Opel brand entered new territory with the Speedster. The open two-seat model was the first car with a centrally located engine in front of the rear axle with a branded emblem. It was also the first production Opel model to use aluminum alloys and polymer materials in its construction. At 3.79 meters long and just 1.12 meters high. The extremely attractive sports roadster is based on the Lotus Elise design concept but is immediately recognizable as an Opel product. Hans Sier, who was Opel’s chief designer at the time, shared. «For the first time, the lightweight body of a production model used the same technology-driven styling language. That we showed in the G90 and Zafira Snowtrecker concept studios.»

The design team behind the Speedster took full advantage of the new possibilities offered by polymer materials for body panels. And created a combination of dramatic facets that would be extremely difficult and difficult to achieve in steel. The aluminum used in the Speedster’s load-bearing structure can also be seen and touched thanks. To the clean and uncluttered interior design.

Powered by a 2.2 liter ECOTEC engine with a maximum output of 147 hp. from the Astra Coupe and weighing only 945 kg. The Speedster accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds. Even more impressive dynamic performance is offered by the Speedster 2.0 Turbo version. Introduced to the market in 2003. Whose acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 243 km/h. In a benchmark test conducted by Britain’s leading motoring magazine Car. The 2003 Opel Speedster managed to confidently outperform its 38 elite sporting rivals to win the Performance Car of the Year award.

Astra GTS

The world premiere of the most impressive version of the Opel Astra in the history of the brand took place at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. And the GTC was born. The Gran Turismo Coupé impresses with an emotional interpretation of Opel’s new design philosophy.

A swift silhouette, characterized by a confident curve of the low roof, dynamic proportions. And aggressively tapering front and rear parts of the body. The shape of the model resembles a feline predator crouching before a jump. This effect is further emphasized by the reduced ground clearance. Which makes the Astra GTC lower in headroom than the hatchback version of the Astra.

The optional panoramic windshield gives the Astra GTC an even more striking appearance. Made from special Solar Protect glass. This exceptional innovation extends all the way to the B-pillar line. Offering a whole new sense of spaciousness and visibility only matched by an aircraft cockpit. To protect passengers from bright sunlight, an intelligent blind with stepless adjustment is provided. In fact, the GTC doesn’t compromise interior comfort. Despite the steeply sloping rear roofline, the second row of seats can also accommodate older passengers quietly and comfortably.


Good luck to everyone in life and on the roads!
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