Opel started in 1862 as a sewing machine manufacturer, later Opel produced bicycles. Opel’s first car appeared in 1898 and for a number of years Opel worked with the French car manufacturer Darracq, because Opel expected the French to be able to take the brand further technically.
In 1919, Opel built a large test track south of Rüsselsheim, the brand’s headquarters, the first in Germany. Opel invested capital in a new factory and new production methods and from 1924 it produced cars on the assembly line. Opel has been part of the American General Motors concern since 1929.
The Kadett was the first Opel in 1967 to produce more than a million units. The Kadett was the best-selling car in the Netherlands for many years. In the 1970s and 1980s Opels were also for sale as Vauxhall, but in the course of the 1980s Opels were only sold as Vauxhall in Great Britain.
In 2009, GM was so deeply in financial trouble that it was strongly considering selling Opel. In principle, Opel was already sold to a Canadian consortium, but at the last minute GM received government support and decided to keep the Opel. Since 2018, Opel is no longer part of General Motors, now that it has been taken over by the French PSA group.