The marque: Venerable German make that now forms the nucleus of General Motors' operations in Europe.

The marque: Venerable German make that now forms the nucleus of General Motors' operations in Europe.

The history: Like many manufacturers of that era, Adam Opel's company made bicycles and sewing machines before producing its first car in 1898. Indeed, Opel died three years before, so he never got to see the creation that still bears his surname. The first Opels were based on designs by the Lutzmann company that Opel had acquired. Proper Opels followed in about 1902 with a wide range of vehicles offered. In 1928, Opel raced a car that was powered by rockets. In the same year the company was taken over by the General Motors giant. By the Second World War Opel was the leading manufacturer in Europe. The 1962 Kadett and the 1972 Rekord were landmark models. By the 1980s most Vauxhall marques and many Holdens and Daewoo models besides were based on the classic Opel blueprints.

Defining model: 1975 Manta B: German Capri.

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