Bitter CD – 1973

Ex-racing driver Erich Bitter produced cars in Germany (and later Austria) from 1973 after the failure of a joint venture with Italian outfit Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica of Turin. Entrepreneurial Erich’s first self-build venture was the Bitter CD, a splendid three-door fastback sports coupe with a long, sloping rear hatch based on the Opel Diplomat platform.

In fact, the Bitter CD was effectively an Opel-sanctioned production version of a concept car shown by Opel at the 1969 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Opel CD (standing for ‘Coupe Diplomat’) got a great reception and the company liked the idea of putting a road version into production. The great Pietro Frua was commissioned to modify the CD prototype and his evolution was shown at Frankfurt in 1970. The following year Opel design boss Dave Holls asked Erich Bitter to build the new car, and he set up a company to do just that.

With a lot of technical help and support from Opel, Erich Bitter further refined the Frua design before commissioning the experienced Baur of Stuttgart to build body panels, assemble the shell, fit it to Opel running gear and trim the interior. The stylish flyer was fitted with a grunty Chevrolet 5.4 litre V8 engine from parent General Motors that used three-speed automatic transmission to deliver potent performance. It appeared at Frankfurt in 1973 to general acclaim, with over 175 orders taken. Sadly, the oil crisis intervened and many were cancelled.

Some 400 Bitter CDs were built, so they are quite rare, though the surviving examples are relatively cheap at auction. That gives anyone who likes to be seen driving an unusual semi-supercar lots of eye-catching bang for their bucks. The odd combination of Italian design with an indestructible American engine and German engineering prowess makes for a pretty reliable ride.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Germany

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1973 (until 1979)

ENGINE:

5,354 cc V8

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.4 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

After the Bitter CD was discontinued its successor was the Bitter SC, based on Opel’s large Senator model, which would be produced for another 10 years until the practice of major manufacturers using commissioned suppliers to produce their custom performance cars went out of fashion.

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