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Blitz 1.5 T
Opelwerk Brandenburg, Mercedes-Benz Mannheim Blitz 3.6 until 1944
|Body and chassis|
light commercial vehicle
|Successor||Bedford Blitz (van/minibus)|
Bedford KB (pickup)
Opel Blitz (German for "lightning") was the name given to various light and middle-weight truck series built by the German Opel 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.
By 1934 there were four base versions offered of the 1 tonne basic model along with fourteen versions of the larger 2 and 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 used in Opel Admiral passenger cars. This engine was very similar to Chevrolet engines from the same period, to the point that disabled Blitzes abandoned by fleeing Germans could be easily put back into operation by advancing Allies using Chevy/GMC and Bedford parts.
From 1939, the reliable Blitz 3.6 three-ton version was used in large numbers by the German Wehrmacht armed forces throughout World War II. Derived variants included an elongated version and the four-wheel drive Blitz A. To cope with the bad road conditions and the rasputitsa mud seasons on the Eastern Front, a half-tracked Maultier (mule) Sd.Kfz. 3 version was built using tracks and suspension based on the Universal Carrier. Among others, these were used as service vehicles for the Messerschmitt Me 323 military transport aircraft. It is also claimed that Opel, a subsidiary of GM, used forced labor to reap unprecedented profits. To what degree GM controlled Opel at the time is subject to debate, but it is clear that GM did in fact play a role in giving Nazi Germany the Opel Blitz truck.
The Opel Blitz was used by Germans extensively in The Holocaust as a modified carbon monoxide gas van so that they didn't have to go through the discomfort of seeing the people they were murdering.
The light basic model was manufactured as Blitz 2.5 in Rüsselsheim until 1942 and again from 1946, equipped with the 55hp Opel Super 6 engine. On 6 August 1944, the Opelwerk Brandenburg was devastated by an RAF air raid. Furthermore, until the end of the war, about 2,500 Blitz 3.6 trucks were built by order of Minister of Armaments Albert Speer at the Mannheim plant of the rival Daimler Benz AG, while the production of its 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 building the Blitz 3.6 under the designation L 701 until 1949. The last 467 medium trucks were again assembled by Opel in Rüsselsheim until production finally discontinued in 1954 without a successor.
In 1952 Opel presented the basic model in a modern rounded design, reminiscent of the contemporary GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks. The new 1.75 ton truck was offered with a van and pickup body. The new model retained the pre-war chassis with the straight-six petrol engine. Opel remained the market leader for light trucks despite strong competition especially by the newly designed 1955 Mercedes-Benz L 319 model and the Ford FK series, as well as Hanomag and Borgward vans. A coach version was built by the Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke from 1953 to 1956. The 1.75 to model was a very popular fire engine (LF8-TS), typically equipped with an engine driven pump mounted at the front bumper and a second, portable pump in the back of the truck. The portable pump was powered by a 34 hp Volkswagen engine and weighed about 400 lbs. Firetruck conversions were made by companies such as Ziegler, Metz and Rosenbauer.
In 1960, the 1.9 to with 2.6 L engine replaced the previous 1.75 to model. This model (later dubbed Opel Blitz A) was distinguished by a cab forward design and a revised six cylinder engine, leading to less overall length and more cargo space. Due to the powerful engine, the truck was an excellent performer for its time, and the 1.9 to with 2.6 L engine was like his predecessor a common base for a light fire truck. The configuration was similar to the one described above for the 1.75 to. However, commercial sales of this model declined during the production run, mainly due to the lack of an economic Diesel option.
The Opel Blitz B was launched in 1965, and was the last of the Opel Blitz trucks. To improve fuel economy, this model was available in 1.9 liter four cylinder CIH option. Alternatively, a 2.5 liter six-cylinder version of the new CIH engine series could be ordered. These engines were also available in the contemporary Rekord and Commodore models, but the Blitz engines had a stronger ground construction and was de-tuned for more torque and better economy.
Under pressure from strong competition of the popular Mercedes-Benz T2 model, in 1968, Opel finally offered a 2,100 cm³ Indenor XDP 4.90 diesel engine (the Peugeot 504 engine) - too late to regain lost market shares. Opel GM decided not to develop a successor, and in 1975, the production of Opel commercial vehicles finally ceased.
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
- "Working for the Enemy". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "General Motors and the Nazis". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- 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: 12. 90014 (979/30/1). Retrieved 2010-12-23.
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