The cars we loved.
The name Bitter may not resonate with many contemporary car lovers, but at one time the name was strongly associated with racing, tuning and eventually a line of sport luxury cars. Eric Bitter, a German, established Bitter Automobile out of the momentum his auto tuning and racing enterprises. Bitter was established In a partnership with the small Italian car company Intermeccanica. After a rocky start, Bitter cars were meeting their goal of providing exotic Italian-like design with German reliability.
The initial deal with Intermeccanica went sour as build quality was so poor, that the young Bitter company nearly went bankrupt. A new partner was sought, with Opel eventually establishing a strong partnership. The reliable mechanicals from Opel would be a major selling point for Bitter. The Bitter SC was produced from 1973 to 1989, using the chassis of the rear wheel drive Opel Senator as a base. Bitter and Opel collaborated on the design.
The Bitter SC was built in very limited numbers and was sold mostly in Germany, Britain and the United States (by direct import in the US). Only about 250 are around mostly in the US or Germany. The limited production number coupled by the then high price tag ranging from $43 to 55k insured that the Bitter would become a rare collectible car. It was available as a coupe, sedan and convertible, with the open top versions being the rarest. Its overall look was reminiscent of the Ferrari 400i with angular styling that was truly on the cutting edge in the early Seventies.
Early cars were fitted with the Opel Senators 3 litre fuel injected V6 engines producing 180 hp. After 1984 an improved 3.9 was introduced pushing power up to 210 hp. The Bitter’s exotic looks were tempered by it’s almost ordinary performance (0-60 in 7.4 seconds) considered good, but not on the level of Porsches or the best from Maranello. Large 15 inch aluminum wheels with power disc brakes insured smooth stops from its top speed of 140 mph while a fully independent suspension insured sure-footed road manners.
The SC was designed more with grand touring in mind by evidence of the high level of equipment in its comfortable cabin. Power windows and locks, air conditioning, leather seats and wood grain trim were just a few of the standard amenities. The concept of using Opel mechanicals served the Bitter SC well as GM mechanicals were certainly more reliable than most of the exotic competitions parts. By the time SC production came to an end, the high cost sports car had become a hard sell. Production of Bitter cars almost stopped, as a number of problems conspired to nearly shut the company down for good.
The company still has a partnership with Opel and is said to be in development for a new car now that the future of GM division has been stabilized. In 2003 Erich Bitter showed a coupe based on the Holden Monaro and in 2007 he showed a sedan based on another Holden. Opel is back and building its best cars ever. Now would be a great time for the return of the SC based on the excellent Insignia. I guess only time will tell.