1964 was a big year for Opel. The German automaker opened the doors to its Opel Design Studio located in building N10 at its headquarters in Russelsheim, and for the first and last time, gave the public a tour of the building. From this point onward, Opel chose the forms and functions of its new models at N10, a milestone they are now celebrating more than 50 years later.
The opening of the futuristic design center was big news. Up until then, many European car manufacturers did not design their models in-house, and instead commissioned coach-building companies to create new models and concepts. Many of these well-known designers, such as Bertone and Pininfarina, were located in Italy, making the addition of a German-based studio important to Opel.
Parent company General Motors had given Opel the idea to build its own design studio. GM had its own in-house design center in Warren, MI. not far from its headquarters in Detroit, called GM Styling. The team at GM Styling had already been working on its own designs and crafting the future of the automobile since the late 1950s. Opel’s building replicated the design center in Warren, identical in form, layout and function, just on a smaller scale.
Opel’s design center had more complex tasks than GM’s, though. The Russelsheim center was to develop the styling language and bodylines of new vehicles in addition to researching the future of automotive design. Opel saw design as a strategic focus for future success and considered what kind of statement and what character the customer may expect from their car.
The Opel design studio’s work on the future of automotive design made it unique in Europe. It quickly turned into a European school for automobile design that had a certain allure for students and attracted some of the best designers in the industry. Some well-known alumni of the studio include Anatole Lapine, Erhard Schnell, George Gallion, Charles M. ‘Chuck’ Jordan, Herbert Killmer and former BMW chief designer Chris Bangle.
Opel says the list of design icons created by the Opel Advanced Design Studio in its 50 history can hardly be topped. The studio was responsible for the popular Opel Experimental GT, which was the first piece of work the young team there created. Soon after in 1969 they introduced the futuristic Opel CD followed by the GT2 with its famous sliding doors in 1975. Today, the studio’s pride and joy is the Monza Concept, which shows the design solutions and technical approaches that will appear in Opel models for years to come.