By on July 2, 2010

Now that we can basically predict the styling of future Buicks by putting waterfall grilles on current Opels, and the brand’s biggest market is China, it’s safe to say that Buick is no longer a particularly American brand anymore. It should come as no real surprise then, that it took a German to build the Ultimate Buick. That “B” on the grille stands for Bitter, an old-school German tuning house that has  been to Opel what Alpina is to BMW. But because Erich Bitter has spent his life improving mass-market cars rather than Bavarian bahnsturmers, he brings a unique approach to the Opel Insignia, also known as the Buick Regal. In fact, you could almost call it more Buick than Buick.

Of course, the comparison is unfair. Bitter doesn’t have to worry about cannibalizing Cadillac or cranking out serious volume, which frees him up considerably compared to the real Buick boys. And so he starts where Buick leaves off: with the 2.8 liter turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive of the Opel Insignia OPC, that Buick won’t bring stateside out of respect for Cadillac. But he doesn’t hop it up to its crazed potential. Instead, it pumps out a quiet 260 hp (aka “Insignia Sport” trim) and can be serviced at any Opel dealer.

Instead of making a manic horsepower machine, Bitter wants his Insignia to “feel like a Bentley” on the freeway, and according to Autobild, it basically does, 20 inch wheels and lowered suspension notwithstanding. (Autobild actually calls the overall impression “like a Quattroporte that’s been shrunk in the wash”). But Bitter’s priorities are best illustrated by his interior, which combines real wood, leather and Alcantara. He tells Autobild

I hate plastic. It must all go away. Too “Opel-ish” (opelig).

With 53 interior components modified by this dedicated plasticphobe, the Insignia actually starts looking like, well, a Buick should.

Now for the bad news: it costs €65,000. That’s all of $80k by current exchange rates. And that will only happen if he can work out a deal with Opel, which currently has bigger fish to fry than cut deals with a low-volume tuner. Bitter himself says that if that deal doesn’t happen, this will be the last car he builds. Which is almost tragically fitting. As Autobild points out, finding BMW 5-Series intenders who might be tempted by a tarted-up mass-market sedan is no easy task in this day and age. Buick must know exactly how he feels… which is probably why they just sell Opels now.

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12 Comments on “Bitter Builds A Better Buick...”


  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Suddenly I have a hankerin’ for butterscotch Life Savers.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Usually I like customs like this but it’s just… stupid.

    $80k for some extra leather and some plastic covering the rear lights? Where do these people get the balls?

  • avatar

    Yeah, €65,000 is a lot. You can get the Insignia “Sport” that he starts with and check full leather and several packages and still end up €20k under Bitter’s price… a 325 HP Insignia OPC with leather is €48k. You get the picture.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    I like it.

    As an uber-Luxury Buick, this is very nicely done.

    Aside from the face, which seems a little bit too plain.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Nice Buick. If GM had any guts they could do the same thing for much cheaper.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I fell in love with Erich Bitter’s cars back in the 80’s, when he was doing serious mods to Opel Senators. Google the Bitter CD or SC. Especially the SC, it looks great today, almost 30 years later. You would have to see the contemporary production cars to understand how large a change took place with the Bitter modifications. When my contemporaries in the early 80’s were fantasizing about Lamborghini Countaches, I was dreaming of a 3L Opel with a funny nose. Well, those and big block Oldsmobiles…

    I know I shouldn’t dismiss these efforts so lightly, as if I could do better, but I had hoped that Bitter would have a substantially different exterior than the current Insignia, but I suppose there are some extenuating circumstances we’re not aware of that prevents it from happening. Nonetheless, I don’t know that I would house one of these (or the most recent effort) in my fantasy garage.

    The SC? Yes. This one? Nein danke.

    As an aside Herr Niedermeyer, any chance we could see some stories and pix of the lesser known (in the US at least) tuners like Bitter, Irmscher, or Alpina? I remember many, many Alpinas in my time in and around Münich. I seriously thought they were a sub-brand of BMW and not an independent tuning house…

  • avatar
    djn

    Alpina? how about some Alpine (simca) articles!!

  • avatar

    I’d never pay what they’re asking for this car, but that interior is sexy and would look at home in just about any luxury car!

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