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|Manufacturer||Adam Opel AG|
|Body and chassis|
light commercial vehicle
Opel Blitz (German for "lightning") was the name given to various German light and middle-weight truck series built by the German Adam Opel AG automobile manufacturer between 1930 and 1975. The original logo for this truck, two stripes arranged loosely like a lightning symbol in the form of a horizontally stretched letter "Z", still appears in the current Opel logo.
During the years preceding World War II Opel, a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) since 1929, was Germany's largest truck producer. The Blitz name, found in a prize competition, was first applied to an Opel truck in 1930.
By 1934 there were four base versions offered of the 1 tonne basic model along with fourteen versions of the larger 2/2½ tonne trucks. Under the terms of Nazi economy and the German re-armament the authorities ordered the construction of the Opelwerk Brandenburg facilities in 1935, where until 1944 more than 130,000 Blitz trucks and chassis were produced. The medium-weight versions originally were equipped with a flathead 68 HP petrol engine coming from the 1930 GM Buick Marquette, replaced in 1937 with a modern overhead valve 75 HP straight-six engine also assembled in Opel Admiral passenger cars. This engine was very alike Chevrolet engines from the same period.
From 1939 onwards the reliable Blitz 3,6 3-ton version was used frequently by the German Wehrmacht armed forces throughout World War II. Derived variants included an elongated version and the four-wheel drive Blitz A. To encounter the bad road conditions and the rasputitsa mud seasons on the Eastern Front, a half-tracked Maultier (mule) SdKfz 4 version with tracks and suspension based on that used on the Universal Carrier was built, used among other things as service vehicle for the Messerschmitt Me 323 military transport aircraft. In Europe this truck was considered General Motors' contribution to German successes. It is also argued that Opel, a subsidiary of GM, used forced labor to reap unprecedented profits. However, to what degree GM controlled Opel at the time can be argued, but it is clear that GM did in fact play a role in giving Nazi Germany the Opel Blitz truck.
The lightweight basic model was manufactured as Blitz 2,5 in Rüsselsheim until 1942 and again from 1946, equipped with the 55 HP Opel Super 6 engine. On 6 August 1944 the Opelwerk Brandenburg was devastated by an RAF air raid. Until the end of the war, about 2,500 more Blitz 3,6 trucks were built by order of Minister of Armaments Albert Speer at the Mannheim plant of the rivalling Daimler Benz AG manufacturer, while the production of the own Mercedes-Benz L3000 model had to be discontinued. After the war, the facilities in Brandenburg were completely dismantled at the behest of the Soviet Military Administration, while Daimler-Benz in Mannheim resumed the manufacturing of the Blitz 3,6 under the designation L 701 until 1949. The last 467 medium-weight vehicles were again assembled by Opel in Rüsselsheim until production finally discontinued in 1954 without a succeeding model.
In 1952 Opel presented the basic model in a modern rounded design, reminiscent of US pickup trucks. The 1.75 tonne truck was offered with a van and pickup body. Though the 1950s Blitz trucks were still based on the pre-war chassis with the straight-six petrol engine, Opel remained the market leader for lightweight trucks, notwithstanding strong competition especially by the newly constructed 1955 Mercedes-Benz L 319 model, the Ford FK series, as well as Hanomag and Borgward vans. A coach version was built by the Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke manufacturer from 1953 to 1956.
Opel Blitz A was offered from 1960 onwards, distinguished by a shortened hood. However, output figures declined, as the 1.9 tonne model was still offered with the Opel Kapitän petrol engine only, which failed to meet with the rising demand for economical diesel engines.
Opel Blitz B was introduced in 1965, and was the last of the Blitz trucks. It featured 1,9 liter four cylinder or 2,5 liter 6 cylinder versions of the new CIH engine also used in the contemporary Rekord and Commodore models, but the Blitz engines were de-tuned and otherwise specialized for truck use. Faced with the competition by the popular Mercedes-Benz T2 model, finally in 1968 a 2,100 cm³ Indenor XDP 4.90 diesel engine was offered —too late to regain lost market shares. Opel GM decided not to develop a succeeding model and in 1975 finally ceased the production of commercial vehicles.
According to the corporate policy of General Motors, from 1973 to 1987 a successor vehicle produced by Bedford Vehicles of Luton, and based on the Bedford CF, was sold in some markets as the Bedford Blitz. Since 1998 Opel again offers a light commercial vehicle with the Movano model based on the Renault Master.
Four-wheel drive Blitz A, 3,6 with blackout light
Daimler-Benz L 701 copy running on wood gas
1965 Deutsche Bundespost van
- Werner Oswald: Lastwagen, Lieferwagen, Transporter 1945–1988. Motorbuch Verlag, 2. ed. 1993, ISBN 3-613-01197-2
- Bedford Blitz Kastenwagen (catalogue). Rüsselsheim, Germany: Adam Opel AG. September 1979. p. 12. 90014 (979/30/1). Retrieved 2010-12-23.
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