2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Opel celebrates the 50th anniversary of its design studio in Rüsselsheim. This is where the GT was designed in 1964 - it was formative for the brand's future appearance. Now the design is entering its next phase.
A small, framed picture is currently hanging on the first floor of the Opel design center in Rüsselsheim. It almost goes under the many sketches of other cars that were designed here. But if you look closely, you will see an Opel GT on it. If you step closer, the message above the picture of the sports car is: "It is not important that we build it. It is important how we build it." There is one more sentence there - and it expresses the pride of the engineers and designers at the Rüsselsheim car manufacturer for this sports car. "Only flying is more beautiful."
Opel pioneers design
This car is not just any car for Opel. It is the first concept vehicle that was designed in the design studio founded by GM in June 1964, the first of its kind in Europe at the time. "There hadn't been such a studio in Europe before. We were the first manufacturer to have such a design center outside of the USA," said Head of Design Mark Adams on Monday on the occasion of the design studio's 50th anniversary Headquarters of the car manufacturer in Rüsselsheim. Until 1964, only the Opel parent company GM had its own large design center in Warren near Detroit.
And without this design studio, you might never have seen a car like the GT on the road. "Perhaps it would have been a sketch on paper, but it is unlikely that it would have ever been built," says Erhard Schnell, the designer of the GT. The Opel GT was created without the knowledge of the management. "A sports car was not on the management's priority list back then. It wanted bread-and-butter cars," recalls Schnell. But the talents that the then head of design Clare M. MacKichan had gathered around him also wanted to draw and design other, more emotional cars - and so they got to work.
The result was the Opel Experimental GT - and it impressed those responsible straight away when they first saw the car. After the trade fair premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt / Main in 1965, the decision was made to build the GT, which went into series production three years later - and found its buyers primarily in the USA. Of the more than 108,000 copies sold by 1973, 70 percent went to the United States - and there is no question that the Opel GT is one of the design icons in automotive engineering.
The way to the Monza Concept paved
It still inspires Opel designers today, says Mark Adams, and paved the way for studies such as the Monza Concept, which celebrated its world premiere at the IAA last year. The gullwing will never go into production like this, but design elements will be found in future models from the Rüsselsheim-based company.
When it comes to Opel design, however, like many other manufacturers, Adams does not like to speak of a design language that defines the models from Rüsselsheim. It's more what he and his team do here every day. You have a design philosophy. Is there any difference at all? Yes, says Adams. While design language can be ephemeral, philosophy has something of sustainability, something is permanent. According to Adam's point of view, after Cycle 1.0 of the Opel Insignia Concept presented in 2003, the next design phase begins in Rüsselsheim, the Cycle 2.0, which began with the Monza Concept last year and whose design philosophy will be reflected in future models.
But everything is about something in common. Namely, to combine "sculptural design with German precision". If that seems too philosophical for you, you can also put it differently: it is not enough for a car to look beautiful, it also has to be technically innovative and surprise the customer. And with this philosophy, Opel wants to inspire as many customers as possible with its brand. (AG / FM)
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