By on October 19, 2018

Buick’s on again, off again relationship with the Opel brand is currently very much on, as two Opels badged as Regals tempt buyers, and one Opel badged as Cascada tempts rental companies. But these recent exercises in marketing are somewhat tame in comparison to the experiment General Motors conducted in the 1980s with a little company called Bitter.

The Bitter marque was founded in the early 1970s by Erich Bitter. Mister Bitter was a racing driver who’d turned his attention to modifying and tuning cars. After that, he got bored and switched to importing cars, and at some point decided he wanted to make his own. Erich Bitter Automobil GmbH was a go.

With a focus almost entirely on coupes, the company’s first model was the CD, based on the Opel Diplomat. We’ll save that story for another Rare Rides when we come across one in a listing. The CD was enough of a success for Bitter to plan a subsequent model; this time it would be called the SC.

Times had moved on since the Diplomat ruled the roost, and now the flagship model at Opel was the Senator sedan. The year was 1979, and Bitter debuted its new coupe at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The company restyled the exterior to remove a couple of doors and make it look a bit like a Ferrari 365; this effort proved successful.

Not content with a regular Opel interior, the SC was trimmed in finely grained and exceedingly ruched Italian leather, in the style of contemporary Maserati models. Power arrived via a 3.0-liter inline-six (today’s choice) or a larger 3.9-liter version of the same engine. Power figures resided at 177 or 207 horsepower, respectively.

As production continued at a slow pace, Bitter had a big announcement to make at the New York Auto show of 1984. The company had entered into a marketing agreement with General Motors to distribute the SC at various Buick dealerships. Bitter wanted a distribution outlet in the United States, and General Motors was doing what all the yuppies were doing in the Eighties: chasing BMW.

Buick dealers were not so enthused with the idea of supporting a single high-line car, and the take rate on sales agreements was low (12 or fewer dealers). Most of the participating dealers were in the New York area, and these stores adjusted their exterior signs to reflect the Buick and Bitter logos. Truly a B&B situation all-round.

The SC remained in production through 1989, when the company went dormant for the entire decade of the Nineties. Various attempts and cars have come from the company since, but never to any volume near the SC. And that’s saying something, because all three variants — coupe, convertible, and the (very rare, five total examples) sedan total a production figure of 488.

Today’s Rare Ride is located in Vancouver, which is a small town north of Seattle with affordable housing. A gold exterior pairs with striking white leather. With about 72,000 miles on the clock, this seller is asking a price somewhere north of $10,000.

[Images: seller]

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31 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Buick Dealers’ Delight – the 1984 Bitter SC...”

  • avatar

    Hmmm… danke.

  • avatar

    I remember when this model came out.
    At the time I thought it looked good – now it’s a bit bland.
    That budget muffler isn’t doing it any favors.

  • avatar

    Slick looking bodystyle, although that ‘old man gold’ paint job is horribly out of place on a coupe. I only know a little about Bitter and his forays into the automotive world…but I wish he would have found more success.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Far prefer the looks of the Bitter CD coupe. And it was allegedly designed by Chuck Jordan who was chief designer of my all time favourite the 1959 Cadillac.

  • avatar

    Another beautiful car I have absolutely no memory of. Great find, Corey

  • avatar

    The styling is very reminiscent of the Ferrari 412 Series. A very nice find. As a child the Bitter CD was on my list of cars I one day wanted to own.

    Fun fact, there was also a Bitter SC Sedan which was produced in five copies.

    This column is fun. I look forward to the day when you find a Monteverdi for sale in North America! That would be a challenge.

  • avatar

    Still a gorgeous car. Aging well.

  • avatar

    I’d drive it. $10k? No, but it ain’t bad.

    Nice find, Corey, had no idea these existed.

  • avatar

    About a decade back, I worked at a GM dealer that had one of these in for service. You know, GM parts underneath, that must be the right place to fix it, right? It sat at least a month waiting for Opel parts to come over. Good looking paperweight though.

  • avatar

    Bitter? Sweet.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I remember when these came out, but I never saw one on the road.

    Buick should never have accepted the “Bitter” name on a car in the showroom.

    Good-looking car, but that muffler is terrible.

    • 0 avatar

      I read an anecdote about Mr Bitter brainstorming about what to name his new car company, and being told by a certain Ferry Porsche to “build the best car you can, and then write your good name on the decklid.” Incredulously, Mr Bitter asked back: “What, call it a Bitter? That sounds stupid.” And Mr Porsche allegedly replied: “Well, does Porsche sound that much better?”

    • 0 avatar

      “Buick should never have accepted the “Bitter” name on a car in the showroom.”

      I can see the marketing people thinking the Germanness of it would have an exclusive appeal to its intended market of contemporary yuppies. Sorta the same way the Merkurs were marketed (not that those were a resounding success either), except for being much more upmarket. But it seems maybe they didn’t go with a Germanic-sounding pronunciation. I can’t find much vintage stuff on youtube but what is there seems to be a middle-America “bidder car,” which sounds like anything but exotic, luxurious autobahn cruising.

      I wonder how Erich Bitter pronounced his family name?

      Anyway, I’m not suggesting any of this was smart or dumb marketing, I’m just wondering what their logic might have been.

      • 0 avatar

        Bitter is one of those rare words that both sound similar and mean the same in both German and English.

      • 0 avatar

        Merkur was selling what was basically the European equivalent of the Ford Tempo (Sierra / XR4Ti) and Taurus (Granada / Scorpio). At the time there was a larger difference between acceptable sizes of cars for the Euro and US markets. That difference has narrowed given both market’s appetite for crossovers, and the likes of the midsize Fusion is sold as a large family hatchback Mondeo.

  • avatar

    I recall seeing these on three different occasions in the Los Angeles area in the 1990s and early 2000s. They were beautiful cars.

  • avatar

    From back in the day when the donor top-of-line Opels were far more technically sophisticated, better built, and nicely styled than anything GM was making in the USA, and competitive with anything in their price class in Europe. Opel even made a profit, but unfortunately it was the also the high point of Opel.

  • avatar

    I drove one of these, had to be in either 1986 or 1987, at a dealership in Queens. Same color too. I can’t say that I remember much about it, except that the carpeting or whatever intruded in the foot well and the front of my shoe kept getting caught on it while stepping on the brake pedal. I remember thinking it was a pretty car but I’d rather have a 928.

  • avatar

    “Mister Bitter”

    (adolescent giggling)

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    So cool , but they look better in darker colors, and this one desparately needs a better looking muffler, maybe an Ansa with DTM upturned dual tips would be period correct.Keep these coming Mr. Lewis.

  • avatar

    Hmm, same dash as Australian built vk/vl Holden Commodore? Would make sense, what with the Commodore of the time being a Senator essentially. Aussies correct me if wrong.

  • avatar

    So great an effort to be ruined by a driveway dragging “exhaust can” at rear. Like, “Oops, who forgot to include an exhaust?” after the design engineers went on vacation.

    It’ll bet that was just a North America concession, as likely the “50 state” catalytic converter went where the muffler was originally located.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Just watched an episode yesterday of the SitCom The Goldbergs that revolves around a Bitter SC. Set in the 1980’s the show is semi-autobiographical, and in reality the father of the show’s developer did indeed purchase one of these with disastrous results.

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