HISTORY OF PERFORMANCE OPELS: Opel celebrates 15 years of OPC-badged cars such as its current Astra OPC (pictured here) to its flagship Insignia OPC. Iamge: Opel
• OPC replaces GSI
• Zafira OPC fastest MPV
• Lap records at the Nurburgring
• Insignia OPC flagship
RUSSELSHEIM, German - Opel is celebrating 15 years since its first car donned an OPC badge, short for Opel Performance Centre.
Each OPC represents the automaker’s combined motorsport knowledge to develop dynamic high-performance cars.
Opel CEO Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann said: "The Opel Performance Centre provides our performance-hungry clients with vehicles that are irresistibly dynamic, have a sporty look and are very different from the regular production models, without making any comprises on everyday usability.
"Our OPC models stand for outstanding performance and pure passion."
Mark Adams, Opel’s vice-president for design, said: "An OPC model must immediately be recognisable as such. Every detail and every line must convey the performance of the vehicle."
OPC REPLACES GSI
When the Astra G replaced the Astra F in 1998 the new model improved quality, efficiency and cabin space but Opel motorsport legend and OPC co-founder Volker Strycek, saw a flaw – it was far from track-ready.
"The car was a long way away from being suitable for motorsport," he recalled. "As there were no plans for a GSI version both a competitive power train and a corresponding chassis were missing. So we sat down – within one year we developed, tested our debuted the model - it was called the Opel Astra OPC 1."
IMAGE GALLERY: 15 years of Opel OPC
Numerous OPC units followed for use on normal roads and, in some cases, immediately after setting lap records on the Nurburgring.
Now, in 2015, the OPC flagship is the 239kW Insignia OPC; then come the 206kW Astra OPC..
1999: OPEL ASTRA OPC (118kW)
Based on the 100kW two-litre EcoTec engine, the new OPC team built a free-revving and responsive engine that was completely different to the frugal base version. It had forged pistons, sharper camshafts, larger intake and exhaust channels,an exhaust manifold system and optimised engine management.
An extra oil cooler and coolant thermostat-controlled temperature were also added.
The car's centre of gravity was lowered by 20mm and added were new shock-absorbers, larger brake discs behind 17" BBS alloy rims, redesigned wishbones and improved steering. The original Opel Astra OPC also word an aerodynamics package and Recaro bucket seats.
Strycek was responsible for 2500 "Sport-Astras", necessary for homologation and produced in series, though due to demand that number was increased to 3000 and, Opel claims, "these had sold out after only four months".
2001: TURBOCHARGED PERFORMANCE
The team set its sights on making the fastest compact MPV in the world with the debut of the Zafira OPC, which also saw the introduction of turbocharging. From 2001 all models created in the Opel Performance Centre would be equipped with efficient turbo technology.
The performance of the two-litre engines grew gradually from 141kW in the first-generation Zafira OPC to 147kW in the second-generation Astra OPC. Torque outputs also swelled - the first-generation two-litre turbo engine was capable of 250Nm; the current unit produces 400Nm.
TAKING ON THE NURBURGRING
Through the years OPC units have regularly clocked lap records on the 20.8km Nurburgring-Nordschleife circuit in Germany. The second-generation Astra OPC set a class record of 8min35.94 in 2005.
In 2006 theZafira OPC set a record for compact MPVs (8min54.38), an achievement which still unbeaten in 2015. The 2007 Corsa OPC completed the course in 8min47.99.
In addition to the record-breaking runs, all OPC vehicles undergo vigorous endurance tests through the “Green Hell”, classed as the most demanding racetrack in the world. According to Opel:
“The legendary Nordschleife is traditional Opel territory. The cars with the Blitz logo have been put through extreme tests there since the 1960's. Opel has a co-operation agreement with Nurburgring Ltd and established its own test centre in the direct vicinity of the course as early as 2006."
Opel has two special Nurburgring editions: the 2008 Astra OPC and 2011 Corsa OPC. The Astra H in special racing trim had the same performance as the Astra OPC though with a special livery. In 2011 the Corsa OPC Nurburgring Edition, equipped with a limited-slip differential, boasted an extra 13kW for a total output of 154kW from its 1.6-litre turbo.
2012 ASTRA OPC
The current Astra OPC is powered by a 206kW/400Nm two-litre turbo capable propelling it from 0-100km/h in six seconds and on to 250 km/h, faster than any previous Astra.
Opel’s flagship all-wheel drive Insignia OPC is powered by a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 capable of 239kW/435Nm. It reaches 100km/h in six seconds (Sports Tourer 6.3) and can also reach 250 km/h on the autobahn - or a track. The manual unlimited version reaches 270km/h (Sports Tourer 265).
Highlights from the first 15 years of OPC:
1999 - Launch of the Astra (G) OPC (118kW two-litre normally aspirated engine)
2001 - Launch of the Zafira (A) OPC (141kW two-litre-turbo)
2002 - Market launch of the second-generation Astra OPC (147kW two-litre-turbo, three-door and Caravan variants)
2005 - 20 000 OPC vehicles sold throughout Europe in only five years
2005 - Market launch of the Astra (H) OPC (177kW two-litre-turbo)
2005 - Second generation of the Zafira (B) OPC (177kW two-litre-turbo)
2005 - Market launch of the Vectra OPC and Vectra Caravan OPC (188kW 2.8 V6 turbo)
2005 - Astra OPC sets compact class lap record of 8min35.94 at the Nurburgring
2006 - Introduction of the Meriva OPC (132kW 1.6-litre turbo)
2006 - Zafira (B) OPC sets MPV lap record of 8min54.38 on the Nurburgring
2007 - Market launch of the Corsa (D) OPC (141kW 1.6-litre turbo)
2007 - Corsa (D) OPC sets small car lap record of 8mins47.99 on the Nurburgring
2008 - Limited special edition Astra (H) OPC Nurburgring Edition
2008 - IDS Plus 2 chassis as standard for Astra (H) OPC
2009 - Launch of Astra (H) OPC Race Camp Edition
2009 - Launch Insignia OPC Limousine and Insignia OPC Sports Tourer (2.8-litre V6 turbo with 239kW)
2011 - Opel Corsa (D) Nurburgring Edition with 154kW
2012 - Astra (J) OPC with 206kW 2.0-litre turbo
2013 - Further development of the Insignia OPC with enhanced chassis