Aug 20, 2019


 OPEL / RÜSSELSHEIM / GERMANY ( 1899 - to date )

 More than 125 years after the first OPEL - Darracq,  the oldest German car manufacturer is still in business.  Today  Opel is part of the STELLANTIS company.


Since 1899, the Opel name can be found on automobiles that were built for three years as Lutzmann-Patent-Motorwagen. This makes Opel one of the oldest German car brands alongside Daimler and Benz. Today, Opel is part of the automobile brands in the Stellantis Group. In 1902, Opel took over the import and bodywork of French Darracq models, which were sold as 8/9 hp small cars until 1907. The brand's success story began in 1903 with its first own 10/12 hp motor car.

graphic reconstruction of the emblem shown above
The first Opel motorized cars often had no trademark. Engraved brass plates in the shape of a leather mold were known from coachbuilding. The above shown  picture of the Opel sons from 1899 shows such a coat of arms on the body.

From 1902, manufacturer's plates were used on the front or on the firewall behind the engine compartment. The Opel-Darracq shown here has an elliptical manufacturer's plate, which was also available as a rectangular plate on the front of the chassis.

1902 hood emblem 

  Opel with firewall emblem


The  firewall emblem was made  in the Art Nouveau style, a very decorative trademark.
I have never seen an original, but there is a repro made by Goede:

five stars for an original !

Size  8.0 cm x 5.5 cm


Around 1908 and 1909, the radiator core were marked "Opel" in cursive script, which was only available as an accessory. Opel itself remained with the front panel and only placed a honeycomb emblem on the radiator box below the filler neck on the "small Opel", which was later replaced by the "Opel eye" at this point.

Here you see the small OPEL automobile with honeycomb emblem made in the same style as the NAG ( Neue Automobil Gesellschaft ).

Finally  the famous OPEL EYE  ("Opel Auge") was designed by the Grand Duke of Hesse in 1910.
In its basic form this emblem remained the identification symbol for 27 years.

One of the first OPEL emblems showing the OPEL eye ( bicycle emblem )

This particular OPEL emblem was registered and patented in 1913

1914 OPEL emblem missing the blue enamel

 11.5 x 5.3 cm 
1910 - 1928

Later the skinny letters used in the first Opel eye were strengthened and the holes left and right were integrated to screw the emblem to the radiator.
There were black and blue versions. I don´t know the use of the blue version and when. But I can tell you that the blue enameled emblem is much much rarer than the black one:

Size11.5 x 5.4 cm
Year1920 - 1926

OPEL also used v-shaped radiators with a v-shaped emblem:

A late version of the v-shaped radiator had two small emblems, one to the left and one to the right.

small V - radiator emblem

  5.7 cm x 2.3 cm
  1921 - 1922 

There was also a simplyfied version of the v-shaped emblem:

now in black and white

  6.4 cm x 3.4 cm

on the picture below you can see the V-shaped emblem from a bird's eye view

In 1927 instead of the integrated fixing  holes two attachment rings were added:

1927 OPEL emblem with attachment rings

Size11.5 cm x 5.8 cm
Year1927 - 1929

Pay attention there was a very bad repro made in Germany by Goede.

repro size: 6.0 x 3.0 cm

back of the repro

In 1929  the Opel eye was simplified and became smaller:

Size6.5 cm x 3.0 cm

OPEL 1,2 Liter 1934 - 1935 with smaller emblem

OPEL  advertising the toothpaste "BLENDAX"

Another strange emblem appeared in 1930 for a short time. It had the form of a weapon and was used on the type 1.8  with 8/40 hp.
wanted: if you have one to sell  don´t hesitate to contact me ! Thank you !

Design  of an one year only Opel radiator emblem

Don´t forget that there was a very popular Opel  3-ton truck. Production started in 1930.
For this truck a big name-finding contest was launched . It is said that more than a million proposals were sent to Ruesselsheim .  The proposition "OPEL - BLITZ " won the first prize.

1930 truck emblem with original water cap. The emblem is a hard to find item as nearly all trucks were destroyed in WWII

Size 7.5 cm x 3.7 cm
Year1930 - 1931

1933 sales brochure

In 1935 the next generation of the Opel Blitz truck was shown to the public. The prototype had large metal Blitz on the radiator grill. But it was used for prototypes only, may be because it was too big or because it ran vertically and pointed downwards.

The regular Opel Blitz emblem, that was used from 1936 onwards, was a two words plaque.

two different prewar Opel Blitz emblems 
Size30 cm x 8.0 cm

In the middle of the nineteenthirties the goverment of the German Reich decided to stop foreign car imports by asking extremly high import taxes. Nevertheless the German car industry tried to sell German cars to other countries like France , Sweden, Norway and more. Therefore a special radiator emblem was invented. On the first version you can read "GENERAL MOTORS" and "OPEL" on the typical Opel eye. On the second version the letters GENERAL MOTORS became bigger and were filled with white enamel while the word OPEL became smaller.   But this was not enough to disguise the German country of origin ! On the third version no more "OPEL", now it became a "GENERAL MOTORS" product, type 102 or type 108 only. Obviously the buyer should think to buy an American product....

Export emblem

Size7.1 cm x 3.8 cm
Yearca 1935 

second version with smaller Opel letters

Size7.1 cm x 3.8 cm
Yearc. 1935

another Opel radiator emblem for export, type 108

Size7.1 cm x 3.8 cm
Yearc. 1936

Opel export emblem for type 102

Size7.1 cm x 3.8 cm
Yearc. 1936

In 1934 the Opel eye was modified once more. Now there was a pointed black enameled oval with chromed wings. You can find this emblem on different models until 1936.

Size13.4 cm x 2.8 cm
Year 1934 -1936

picture of the 1934 Opel sales brochure showing the emblems and a mascot

In February 1935 for the first time  the Opel Olympia used  a stylized  zepplin as a radiator mascot.
A plaque with a discus thrower was mounted on the radiator grill. It was a marketing gag for the Olympic Games, the major event in Germany in 1936.

emblem made of thin sheet metal

Size4.4 cm x 9.2 cm
Year 1935 - 1936

1934 1935 OPEL OLYMPIA Convertible with emblem on the radiator grill

Opel launched the modern P4 in September1935. This car had a very small chromed sheet metal emblem :
emblem made of thin sheet metal
Size3.8 cm x 6.8 cm
Year1935 - 1936

In 1936 the first Opel named "KADETT" was  produced:

emblem made of thin sheet metal

Size6.8 cm x 15.0 cm
Year1936 - 1938

In 1937 Opel models were not marked with the word Opel, but with a brand symbol an abstract zepplin flying through a ring. This zepplin was placed on the spare tire cover at the rear of the car.

 emblem seen on an 1937 Opel Super Six 

Late in 1937 the Opel Super Six had a radiator emblem in a stencil style.

Size5.2 cm x 22.5 cm
Year 1937

The 1938 Olympia model had an emblem with stencil-form gothic letters:

Size6.0 cm x 9.8 cm
Year 1938

Since 1938 the new OPEL Kapitän had this Zepplin emblem on the trunk. When production started again after WWII in 1947 the rear emblem wasn´t changed until 1951 when the next generation of the Opel Kapitän was launched.

emblem made of aluminium

Size25.5 cm x 14.8 cm
Year 1938 - 1951

 1937 1938 OPEL ADMIRAL body made by Hebmüller

1937 - 1939 aluminium trunk emblem

Size20.8 cm x 12.3 cm
Year 1937 - 1939

1937 1938 brochure showing the trunk emblem

1938 OPEL ADMIRAL radiator grill emblem

For a short time Opel also built a motorcycle called OPEL MOTOCLUB ( 1928 - 1930 ).
It was a fantastic looking motorcycle in silver with red tires ex work and three emblems.
A small one on  each side of the fork  and a large one on the rear fender

Size5.9 cm (small badge)
9.0 cm ( large badge)
Year 1928 - 1930

backside of two original Opel Motoclub emblems

Once upon a time it has been an OPEL Motoclub emblem ( victim of WWII )
1930 Opel Motoclub with rear fender emblem

The prewar Opel Kadett must have been a very solid car, because in 1945 / 1946 the Russian goverment decided to transport all Opel factory equipment and all machines to Russia. Then they started to produce the Opel Kadett for their own. The only changement I could find was the emblem:

Russian Opel Kadett emblem

OPEL KADETT made in Russia after WWII

Sizeca. 5 cm x 14 cm
Year1948 - 1959

After WWII the Opel Blitz truck had a large free standing  aluminium blitz:

After 1950 trucks exports resumed, but for the export trucks the Blitz symbol was not used.
The word "Blitz" was too closely associated abroad with "Blitzkrieg".

rare Opel Blitz Export emblem

Size30 cm x 8.5 cm
Year1950 - 1952

Opel Blitz with export emblem

In 1947 - two years after WWII - when car production started again the Opel Olympia had a new metal shield on the middle of the radiator shell  with two yellow and black sections. From 1950 onwards the colors white and yellow became the typical Opel colors.

Size4.6 cm x 7.6 cm
Year1947 - 1948

1947 / 1948 sale brochure showing the new emblem

In 1950 and 1951 Opel used the next new emblem, this time a white and yellow coat of arms showing three winged wheels. The three winged wheels are symbolizing  speed, reliability and durability ( winged wheels with the same meaning  were used by different companies ).

Size7.2 cm x 6.9 cm
Year1950 - 1951

In 1951 the zeppelin - still mounted on the rear of the car -  was modernized as the old kind of air - ship was outdated. The emblem was now fashioned into a airplane - in a shape  with a dorsal fin, giving a new look of speed, elegance and dynamism. This year the emblem was chromed.

Size24.2 cm x 13.0 cm

Year 1951

In 1953 the airplane emblem - made of brass  - was redesigned  and became three dimensional:

Size17.5 cm x 9.6 cm
Year1953 - 1954

In 1954  the Opel Kapitän had on the left and on the right in the radiator grill a white / yellow painted emblem, similar to the 1947 Opel Olympia plaque.

Size5.1 cm x 8.5 cm
Year1954 - 1955

Also the 1954 Kapitän had a very nice three color hubcap emblem showing the airplane, while the smaller Opel Olympia - Rekord only had a two color emblem without an airplane.

Size7.1 cm x 4.8 cm (emblem only)
Year1954 - 1955

In 1959 the airplane symbol had a more oval ring. Now the emblem is made of anosised sheet metal.

Size26 cm x 10.5 cm
Year1959 - 1961

From 1964 onwards the modern Opel emblem was fixed on the hood:  a simple blitz in a ring.

Sizedifferent sizes
Yearsince 1964

The Opel Olympia was built under licence in Austria by Steyr in 1932.
They a used an  emblem combining the two company emblems:

c.  6.5 x 7.0 cm 

Don´t forget that there was also a famous refrigerator made by Opel in the nineteenfifties.  The fridge also had an emblem, similar to the car emblems:

OPEL dashboard emblem covering the hole when there was no clock

mysterious OPEL emblem in arabian style. Who knows more ?

another mysterious Opel Blitz emblem ( large and heavy ). Who knows more ?

Not to forget, there were also numerous pins showing the various Opel emblems. Some of the motifs on the pins were identical to the vehicle emblems, some had their own motifs.
Below follows a selection of the pins from the Ralph van Holten collection.




prewar OPEL emblem exposition

For more emblems see older posts or top right ( list of carmakers )
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