The Green Monster
Opel first started out in the metalworking business, with its first product, a sewing machine in 1862. Later in 1886 the German company entered into the production of bicycles. The first automobile followed in 1899 and was named the “Opel Patent Motor Car, System Lutzmann”. During the year of 1901, an Opel won the Konigsstuhl Hill Climb, and the company also signed and agreement with the French car builder Darracq to produce that car under license.
Around the year of 1902, Opel went back to the drawing board and designed another car of their own that finally entered into production in 1906. By 1907, the 60 hp racing car seen above was built, and the company test and racing car driver Carl Jorns finished third in the Kaiser’s Prize Race behind the wheel with it; the car was also selected by the emperor to win the prize for the best German automobile and thereafter became the official car used for his court.
In 1913, the firm designed and built a shaft and bevel gear-driven SOHC engine much like that produced by Mercedes, in both 4-liter and 4.5-liter sizes for its Grand Prix racing car. The photos of this engine below, were found the following year in The Automobile magazine, July 9, 1914 issue, which covered Grand Prix engines and developments for the season.
Also in 1914 or earlier, it appears that the decision was made to build the Opel Rennwagen record car, with a larger four cylinder sixteen-valve engine of 12.3 liters (750 CI) that was quite similar to the Gran Prix version. It appears to have shared the same basic design with the exception of the rocker arms actuating the valves from below the valve springs.