Classic Cars

Opel Patent Motor Car (1899-1901)

April 29, 2013

Opel Patent Motor Wagen System Lutzmann 1899_01On January 21, 1899, the Opel brothers purchased a motor car factory from Friedrich Lutzmann of Dessau. Opel moved the motor car factory from Dessau to Rüsselsheim, and just a few months later in the spring, the first vehicle named Opel Patent Motor Car System Lutzmann already left the plant.

The Opel Patent Motor Car was a cabrio. Like all cars built at the dawn of the automobile age, it followed traditional carriage design principles and had a body without an integral roof. It was based on Lutzmann’s previously built Arrow models, yet also boasted several innovations. Opel redesigned the chain-controlled steering and designed a deeper chassis frame with strong longitudinal cross members to increase stability and lower the center of gravity of the 520 kg car.

An open, 1.5-liter, one-cylinder engine located in the rear produced 4 hp at 650 rpm. Piston rods and a crankshaft were also open, while the power transmission to the rear axle consisted of a highly complex system of leather drive belts, an auxiliary drive shaft, a planetary transmission, pinion gears and chains. With an experienced driver at the wheel, Opel’s Patent Motor Car could reach a top speed of around 40 km/h.

By the time production ended in 1901, 65 Patent Motor Cars had left the Rüsselsheim factory.

Opel Patent Motor Car System Lutzmann (1899)


  • 1-cylinder


  • 1,545cc

Power Output

  • 4 hp

Top speed

  • 40 km/h


  • 520 kg