Rare Rides: The 1977 Bitter CD - Elder Bitter
Rare Rides featured its first Bitter last year, when a golden SC coupe from 1984 graced these pages. In that article we mentioned we’d return when the company’s first model, the CD, turned up for sale somewhere.
And today’s the day! Let’s take a look at Bitter’s initial product offering.
Bitter’s founder Erich Bitter made his career out of cars. What started out as racing cars turned into a tuning business. That grew into full-on importation of new cars, and then to design projects with Italian firm Intermeccanica. Once its Italian dealings wrapped up, Bitter formed a new company after some persuasion by friends at Opel.
Before Bitter GmbH’s founding, the company’s eventual first car was previewed on the Opel stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1969. The prototype Opel Coupe Diplomat, or CD if you’re feeling casual, was designed by Chuck Jordan (head of Opel’s design) and Dick Ruzzin. The public’s reaction to the prototype lead to further discussion at Opel about a production version. Over in the U.S., Bob Lutz was in charge of Opel and called up Pietro Frua to work the concept into a road-going car.
But Opel’s project stalled out. Dave Holls, who was one of the assistants on the original CD prototype, had advanced to run Opel’s design that year. Still very interested in the car, Holls reached out to Bitter in 1971 to urge him to take over the CD’s future. Bitter didn’t waste time, forming his new company that year.
Bitter took Frua’s design and altered it a bit before setting the production car’s final look. Final prototypes went to Opel, where Holls and other Opel employees refined its appearance even further. Once the design was settled, Bitter contracted out production to Baur, as he lacked the funds to set up his own factory. The final product appeared in public for the first time at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show — where the public showed a decent amount of interest. Orders placed at the show totaled 176, but most were quickly cancelled after the oil crisis broke out later that year.
Production started up anyway, but the model’s assembly was as slow as the orders; only six were completed the first year. For the next six years, roughly 70 CDs rolled out annually, delivered to wealthy customers who wanted a very exotic looking Opel coupe. 1979 was the CD’s final year of production, with just 37 completed. Not disheartened, Bitter moved on to offer the SC coupe that same year.
Underneath the long coupe body, all CDs rode on a platform borrowed from the Opel Diplomat large sedan. The CD used the Diplomat’s upscale engine option: a 5.4-liter Chevrolet V8. In this case, the V8 was paired to a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic, which sent 230 horsepower to the rear wheels.
Today’s car is in excellent condition, and is for sale in Germany for $77,000.
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