Opel Blitz (German for "lightning") was the name given to various German 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.
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.
truck, Italy, 1944
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 Brandenburgfacilities 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 enginecoming 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.
towing an artillery piece onto or off an Me-323
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) SdKfz 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 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 theMannheim 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.