Opel is one of the early German car manufacturers, which is still around. Five brothers, Friedrich (Fritz), Carl, Ludwig, Heinrich and Wilhelm Opel inherited their father’s company upon his death in 1895. The father, Adam Opel was a versatile businessman who produced hats, sewing machines, carriage wheels and later bicycles – products which were fashionable and desired.
It was Wilhelm and Friedrich who steered the company into the world of cars. First they bought a licence from Friedrich Lutzmann, but it proved be a failure. Undeterred the brothers signed a deal with Darracq in France. From 1902 Opel bodies were mounted on Darracq chassis. Soon self-developed models also arrived. By 1906 the 1000th Opel car was built and new branches were opened.
The 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup was the first major competition for Opel. The car featured a four-cylinder 100-hp engine with standalone cylinders, which made the car much longer. It was driven by Friedrich Opel but it failed to finish the race.