The current Opel logo consists of a simple, black circle with a horizontal lightning bolt in the middle. While many logo meanings can be explained quickly, the connection between “Opel” and a “Z” or lightning bolt is not immediately recognizable. The lightning symbolizes speed, success and energy, the circle should represent a wheel. The deeper meaning of the logo and its origin can be explained in more detail with a look back at the company's history.
Adam Opel began manufacturing sewing machines in Rüsselsheim in 1862. These had a logo that contained the ornate initials “A” and “O”. In 1886 he switched to the production of bicycles. This changed the logo to a cyclist together with Victoria, the goddess of victory. The logo read “Victoria Blitz”. One of the first Opel bicycles also bore this name. Although Opel was still a long way from producing cars at that time, the lightning bolt appeared here for the first time in connection with this same brand. The symbol stood for the speed of bicycles and the triumph of the new means of transport. In fact, the racing bikes became very successful. Opel even became the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world in the 1920s.
Adam Opel never wanted to manufacture cars, but a few years after his death - in 1898 - his daughter Sophie Opel began building automobiles. From 1909, Opel manufactured trucks and aircraft engines. In 1909 the logo was just a golden, sweeping Opel lettering, which was changed again a year later. Until 1937, the Opel logo consisted of an ellipse surrounded by laurels, in which "Opel" was written in capital letters on a blue background. The design should be as timeless as possible in order to last for a long time. Wilhelm Opel, Sophie's son, succeeded in doing this with this “Opel eye”. Although the lightning bolt had disappeared from the logo since the production of motor vehicles, there was a successful truck series from 1930 called “Blitz”.
In 1935 a gray zeppelin appeared for the first time in the logo, which was in a yellow ring. The zeppelin symbolized the progress, the ring should represent a wheel. At that time, zeppelins were regarded as forward-looking means of transportation. Individual cars were even given a Zeppelin hood ornament. However, Opel never made airships. Although the Zeppelin era ended with the Hindenburg crash in May 1937, the symbol in the Opel logo was retained for a long time. Over the next few years, the logo remained largely the same, but the Zeppelin was increasingly simplified until it only reminded one of lightning in 1964.
The lightning bolt has officially been the Opel logo since 1963. The lightning bolt stands for pure energy and speed, while the wheel continues to establish the relationship to the vehicles. The Blitz is also a reminder of the success of the bicycles and the “Blitz” truck series. The ring around the lightning bolt has been preserved to this day, only the look has changed several times over the years. From 1970 the name “Opel” could also be found in the logo. With the simple, two-dimensional logo that was introduced in 2017, the name was dropped again. The new logo is intended to symbolize clarity and modernity. In any case, only the ring with the lightning bolt was depicted on the vehicles in different proportions and made of different materials.