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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Bitter

Bitter SC

Classic Velocity

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The Bitter SC was the successor to the Bitter CD chronicled here before (see Sweet Bitter). It entered the market in 1979, even as CDs were still available. Although it was based on the largest of the Opel platforms, the styling was very Italian, and it could almost be mistaken for the Ferrari 412. This was not a bad thing, as it is clearly a handsome coupe. Much of the car was built in Italy, first at OCRA, and then at Maggiore, but eventually by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria. All cars then came back to Schwein, Germany for final assembly or for inspection. The car was powered by a 3.0 or a 3.9 liter inline 6 cylinder., and produced 180hp. or 210hp respectively. It used Bosch fuel injection. Weighing 3500lbs, they used that power to propel the car to an 8.3 second 0-60 time.

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Bitter went to great effort to create a premium car, with a luxurious interior including leather and woodgrain. A sedan, and a cabriolet were added in 1981. Just 488 were built, and only a handful came to the US, where they were carried by a few Buick dealers due to a deal with GM. That placement did not help, and US sales were tepid. However, demand was outstripping supply elsewhere, hence the move to Austria for much of the manufacturing. In an interesting twist, Bitter had difficulties with US emissions despite using a US vendor to handle that area. They eventually used a Porsche catalytic converter to solve their issues! They were also up against the rise of the BMW sedan, and other premium offerings. Lastly, the idea of a rebodied car was now primarily the domain of the supercar. No matter how nice it looked, and no matter how well executed, a rebodied Opel was going to be a challenge. Today, the SC from this period remains popular, and the wedge styling has stood the test of time.

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2013 Deutsche Classic

Classic Velocity

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If there is an event that almost perfectly matches the theme and scope of Classic Velocity, it is Pennsylvania's Deutsche Classic. The event has been around for a number of years, but it is billed as an all German multiple marque event including cars and now motorcycles. The event has moved around over the years from Reading, to Fleetwood, and this year for the first time to its' new home in Oley Pennsylvania. Regular readers will know that Oley is also the site of the AACA vintage motorcycle swap meet in the spring. Familiar territory.

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It is always good to see friends and fellow chronic disease sufferers from many brands all in the same place. I could walk to any encampment and see a familiar face, and I have been to the event with almost every marque present (my one and only Opel and my only Audi pre-dated the event). Last year there was a Bitter present (see Sweet Bitter), and that was another exception. All of this makes this event into a next snapping frenzy as every compass direction has something of interest, every for sale sign is of potential interest, and there are virtually no vendor stalls that are not of interest.

That said, there are always cars of particular interest. A nice Type 4 Karmann Ghia caught my attention, as did a BMW 2000. Nice examples of any car always stop you in your tracks, and Roger Jone's beautiful 3.0CS is one such car. Todd was present with his superb modified R90S. Craig brought his immaculate single cab Bus. Several nice 356 cars were present. The most interesting car for me though was not on the show field. It was behind a vendor stall. It was an ultra rare Mercedes wagon. To the uninformed, it looked like someone's shade tree experiment. However, it is actually a 1966 Mercedes 230 wagon. This one was an even more rare Binz version with a higher roofline. It is not the prettiest car to begin with, and this one is in rough shape, but what a great surprise to see one in the flesh.

Sweet Bitter

Classic Velocity

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In the late 1960s, Erich Bitter of Schweim, Germany was doing very well making tuning kits, and auto accessories. He was and is a naturally competitive guy, racing bicycles at the top level in the Tour De France before moving on to racing cars. In 1969 he retired from racing cars and became the german importer for Abarth and Intermeccanica automobiles. Neither of those experiences worked out as well as he would have liked, but they convinced Erich to pursue his own car. He was particularly impressed with the Opel CD prototypes of 1960-71, and when Opel decided not to pursue production, he felt compelled to do something. He spoke with Opel owners GM, and convinced them to let him bring the project to fruition. Not only did they say yes, but Opel even helped develop the car for production.

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Bitter established his own car company in 1971, and chose coach builder Baur to handle production as he had no factory of his own. He used the chassis from the Opel Diplomat and shortened it. This was combined with a 5.4 liter V8 from GM producing 230 bhp. The combination satisfied Erich's desire to have an exotic sports car with solid reliability. The result was a handsome and sporty coupe with a generous glass hatch and a kamm back. It could easily pass for an Italian thoroughbred, particularly in red. An improved and shortened Lamborghini Espada comes to mind. The car weighed in at 3881 lbs, so it was not a light car, and was more of a grand tourer. 0-62 time was 9.6 seconds, and top speed was 130mph. It was dubbed the Bitter CD, and it arrived in 1973.

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The CD was not an inexpensive car, and it was launched into the teeth of the oil crisis. Even so, it did well for an ultra exotic, and lasted until 1979. In total 395 Bitter CDs were produced, and they were replaced by the Bitter SC. This was of course one of a few examples of European chassis and suspension being married to an American power plant (DeTomaso, Iso Griffo, AC Cobra, etc). However, it remains a respected and sought after machine for its classic good looks, and luxurious cabin.