Remembering Erhard Schnell, designer of the Opel GT and Calibra

The automotive design world lost a giant recently, when Opel's Erhard Schnell passed away at the age of 92.

Schnell, born in 1927 Frankfurt, was a true character, known for his sense of humour and "mischievous" cartoons. He was also an Opel man, through-and-through, and remained closely associated with the brand right to the end.

Schnell studied commercial graphics in Offenbach before starting his career as a car designer. His life at Opel started as early as 1952, and he was always proud of the curved lettering he produced for the early Rekord and Kapitan models. In 1961 he furthered his design studies at GM's Tech Center in Detroit.

In 1962, he began developing the first concept car from a European car manufacturer. His ideas took shape in the “Opel Styling Studio” opened in Rüsselsheim in 1964. The experimental GT, with its famed "coke-bottle-shape" celebrated its world premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in 1965, and only 3 years later the production Opel GT rolled off the assembly line. The father of the GT was thrilled with his big hit, whose sleek lines resembled those of the contemporary Corvette.

Schnell later gave shape to the first generation of the Opel Corsa and developed the form of the ultra-aerodynamic Opel Calibra. “My favourite car”, said Schnell about the cult coupé, “a new, modern design language. I had complete freedom with the styling.”

Rest in peace, Mr Schnell. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published