The first cars were produced in 1899 after Opel's wife Sophie and their two eldest sons entered into a partnership with Friedrich Lutzmann, a locksmith at the court in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt, who had been working on automobile designs for some time. These cars were not very successful and the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel signed a licensing agreement in 1901 with the French Automobiles Darracq France to manufacture vehicles under the brand name Opel Darracq. These cars consisted of Opel bodies mounted on Darracq chassis, powered by two-cylinder engines.
The GSi's engine mapping had been carried out by Opel tuning specialists Irmscher. A model with the 82 PS (60 kW) 1.4 L multi point fuel injected engine, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi, also became available as the Nova SRi in the United Kingdom. In January 1988, a turbocharged version of the Isuzu diesel engine was introduced, with power increased to 67 PS (49 kW).