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					January 2008



Lighting Design: The Car’s Eyes

     Slim and horizontal: Opel’s newest lighting design trend
     Night design and daytime running lamps: Unmistakable at any time of day
     History: Headlamps as design elements



Headlamps are a typical example of how a purely functional detail in the automobile’s
design development can gradually become a styling element – and how such a technical
development gives designers greater creative freedom. “The trend is very similar to that of
computers or consumer electronics,” explains Malcolm Ward, Chief Designer of Opel’s new
mid-size class. “Smaller is more elegant, and instead of overly intricate detailing, we’re
going for refined simplicity.”


With the upcoming Insignia, Opel designers continue to cultivate a style that has long
influenced the brand’s design: the front lighting unit is slim and horizontal. The high-beam
reflector also has a well-defined rectangular form. The headlamps themselves are pushed
far out to the sides to create space for a prominent radiator grille and to give the vehicle’s
front section a flat, wide appearance.


The headlamp unit’s upper edge is smoothly rounded, emphasizing the typical Opel line
that arcs upwards and outwards from the lowest point at the center of the vehicle’s front.
The entire headlamp unit is three-dimensional, which echoes the style that is instantly
recognizable in the current Astra and Corsa models. The advantage, explains Ward, is that
“the front overhang seems less overpowering, because in side profile, the large fender
panel surface is interrupted by the headlamp.”




Information concerning specifications and equipment applies to the models offered in Germany. There may be differences in other markets. All data on
fuel consumption refers to combined fuel consumption of the base model in the European test cycle. Subject to alteration.

Adam Opel GmbH                                           http://media.opel.com                                             General Motors Corporation
D-65423 Rüsselsheim
                                           -2-




All Opel models in the coming years will feature the special, completely new and distinctive
daylight running lamp design. It gives Opel cars an unmistakable look, even at night when
used as a parking light. In house, this lamp shape is called the “OK checkmark”. For the
first time, xenon lighting is combined with LED lights, which have an even brighter beam
yet require less electricity than conventional incandescent bulbs. But it is not just in rear-
view mirrors that future Opels will be instantly recognizable: the rear lighting units also
feature the checkmark shape as an identifying characteristic.


Lighting design also has an increasingly important function in the interior. A good example
is the current Corsa, whose striking new details include refined, backlit air conditioning,
radio and light knobs that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The Cosmo and Sport
variants feature additional translucent control elements when fitted with the Lighting
package (reading lights, footwell illumination). The warm, lively red that illuminates the
instruments also played an important role in the GTC Coupé concept car, which was
unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007. The lighting in the GTC Coupé, whose styling
provided a look ahead to the Opel Insignia’s design language, gave the interior more
character and emotionality. The four round cockpit instruments are encircled by
transparent rings, which are backlit in red to look like tunnels. The designers produced a
similar effect for the double DIN-format infotainment unit by also backlighting the system’s
U-shaped bordering in red.


Circular becomes rectangular: First major step came in 1964


With its flat, slim headlamps, the Insignia is the current highlight of Opel’s design
development that began in the 1960s. This was the first time that technology enabled
reflectors to be rectangular. Opel quickly seized upon this new design style and became a
trend pioneer with the Kapitän, which together with its Admiral and Diplomat sister models
sported a flat, wide look with rectangular headlamps in 1964. In the second update to the
large Opel range in 1969, designers used headlamps to differentiate between models:
Kapitän and Admiral retained their horizontal headlamps, while the flagship Diplomat had
vertical lighting units.


The three trademark cars made a strong impact on future Opel headlamp design: Rekord
B, C and D were recognizable by their horizontal headlamps for years, while the Kadett,
Ascona and Corsa A were also fitted with square headlamp units.
                                            -3-




In the Manta B – a true design icon of its time - the headlamp shape was especially
prominent, protruding past the pronounced fender edge.


The next step came with the Senator in 1982. This lighting design would shape the Opel
vehicle face for years to come, and feature in the Rekord E, Kadett E, Omega and Vectra.
The headlamps were no longer strictly geometric, instead boasting a curved inner side.


From two to three dimensions: Between Calibra and Astra


Lighting units were becoming increasingly flatter – a trend that the 1989 Calibra, with its
new technology, made such a great success. Used for the first time, the projector
headlamps allowed extremely thin light slits to be fitted for that time, emphasizing the
coupé’s sporty look.


Opel design took a completely new direction with the Astra in 1998. For the first time, the
front of the headlamps was three dimensional and thereby also became part of the
vehicle’s body design. In the current Astra (since 2004), the headlamp design tapered far
into the side of the car’s body reinforces the model’s compact look. The Astra was the first
Opel in which designers crafted both the outer form of the lighting unit and its inner layout.
The facets incorporated into the car’s body and the interesting technical details highlight
the exciting enhancement to Opel’s design language. Just like the headlamps, the large
rear lights reflect the designer’s passion for detail and technology. For the first time in
series production, the upper section of the Astra’s rear lights boasts innovative translucent
technology. This special light diffusion makes every five-door Opel Astra unmistakable
even at night, and was the first step toward a night design.


Opel has been at the forefront of headlamp design right from the very beginning. The
legendary 1938 Kapitän was one of the first cars to start the breakaway from round front
lamps. The large Opel’s headlamps were fully integrated into the fender in an art
deco-style hexagonal unit.


For many years before, headlamps were round and placed like ornaments in polished
brass housings. Then in the 1930s, designers realized that they could create a brand face
with the headlamp layout.
                                          -4-




Peugeot moved their headlamps inward and put them behind the radiator grille. Cord went
one step further, fitting its 1936 812 luxury car with the first pop-up headlamps.


GM’s Buick brand took this idea with Harvey Earl’s Y-Job – the first-ever concept car – and
enhanced it. The Y-Job featured the world’s first automatically controlled pop-up
headlamps. This innovation arrived in Europe in 1968 with the Opel GT.




Contact:                      Jean-Philippe Kempf                    06142-7-66651


Text and photos can be downloaded from the Internet at http://media.opel.com.

				
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