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German Exotic! 1985 Bitter SC

When German race car driver Erich Bitter conveived a German-engineered road car with a gorgeous Italian body and interior, the entrepreneur’s clever plan birthed this 1985 Bitter SC. One of 223 exported to North America over multiple years, this SC in Cleveland, Ohio comes to market here on eBay, where $12,950 makes it yours with one click of But It Now. Fans might call that a bargain at about a quarter of the original $45,000 sales price, about $121,000 today. This uber-rare German exotic shows some rust and sun-burned plastic parts. Contrasting the hand-built Ferrari 400 it resembles, the Bitter used the reliable and common chassis and powertrain of the Opel Senator. Thanks to Hemmings for some details.

With about 73,000 miles on the clock, this Bitter has covered more miles than many Ferraris of this vintage. Both the Ferrari 400 series and the Bitter used a reliable and easy-to maintain General Motors three speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission. Reading the tea leaves, we might guess that outdoor storage (perhaps in a hotter-than-Ohio climate) burned some plastics including the dashboard. Most of the sumptuous leather and even the maple veneer trim has fared better. A skilled upholstery shop will have this interior looking top shelf for less than a quarter of the purchase price.

Unlike the more unique nose, the rear quarter view shamelessly copies Ferrari’s handsome 400i, right down to similar five-spoke wheels. Consider the imitation a form of flattery here. Like the 400i, the Bitter looks great from every angle.

With half the cylinders of the V12 Ferrari, the Bitter’s Opel 3.9L inline six managed 200 HP, about 2/3 of the Ferrari’s power. This 3.0L version made 178 HP during a year when Chevrolet’s storied Z28 produced 155 HP from a 5.0L V8. After 10 years off the road, the SC does not run, but the engine turns by hand. Few cars produced in such limited numbers would be easier to put back into working order. As a Ferrari 400 fan who never bought one when they regularly sold under $30,000, I’d have to take a second look at this Bitter if I had fewer open projects myself. Would you consider refurbishing this rarer-than-rare German exotic?


  1. Joshua Mortensen Staff

    I remember the first time I saw a Bitter in-person. It was in Monterey during automotive week, but it still managed to standout in the sea of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches. Somehow, it managed to be subtle, yet striking.

    This one is tempting, but I’d want it to be quite a bit cheaper to leave room in the budget for any hard to find parts.

    Like 4
  2. That AMC Guy

    Murray Goldberg would approve.

    Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Well, maybe not. At the end of the episode with the Bitter, they tell the story that it broke down shortly after it was bought and just sat in the driveway after that.

      Just goes to show that an Austrian built exotic should only be owned by someone dedicated to its upkeep.

      Like 1
    • douglas hunt

      It sure looks better in red ….

      Like 1
  3. Beaner

    A good looking car, on the outside, but the interior is butt ugly (like me) Needs a five speed too.

    Like 1
  4. Till Jauernig


    in the small German town where I come from a lawyer drove such a car. I always looked at, when I saw it. It was also a SC 3.9 and not a 3.0. Two or three years ago I found this car on the Internet located in Spain. The condition was similar to this one, but it was a little more expansive. Well, a Bitter SC is not a Bitter CD, but they are also quite rare, have good GM engines and looks really good. You can still find them in Europe and they are not really expensive compered to similar cars.

    Best regards,
    Till J.

    Like 4
  5. Slightly Askew

    I can imagine I buy this and bring my wife out to the garage to see my latest purchase.
    Then I’ll have both Bitter and angry parked out there.

    Like 12
  6. Claudio

    I believe that i vaguely remember seeing this in a magazine
    Being a canadian , i believe anything this car would need would be unobtainium
    The LS conversion comes to mind !
    This is a long term project and im only in for quickies !

    • SubGothius

      Being essentially a reskinned Opel/Vauxhall Senator A, anything it may need mechanically should be somewhat straighforward to source from Europe/UK. However, any interior and exterior trim replacements would probably need custom fabrication.

      Like 2
      • douglas hunt

        I can only imagine, I have enough probs trying to repair or replace the 20 year old plastic interior on my 2001 Audi TT project. If I look at some of it wrong it breaks, lol
        and don’t get me started on what a replacement “used” front bumper goes for, if you can find one

  7. Greg Thompson

    I saw one at the Carlise Import show last weekend with a a LS swap done to it. Did look a bit odd in the middle of a row of Opel GT’s and Manta’s.

  8. Mike Hawke

    Almost bought one in the mid 80s. They had depreciated quickly in Europe. Did have that straight six in two generations of the Opel Senator and really liked it…even with the automatic. Shouldn’t be any big deal to get this running again as it’s Bosch FI.

  9. Steve Clinton

    The bumper, hood, and headlight covers look a little wanky. Possibly a poor repair job after an accident?

  10. Gerard Frederick

    I fundamentally reject any -wannabes-. A copycat will always be second class.

    Like 1
  11. Howie

    This is cool but a bit rough, 9 other cars listed.

  12. hemistroker

    when you pick it up with a lift, FYI the fuel lines are not the lifting point try the frame rail beside it! that screams 80’s sexy and mysterious just because it looks like what you know (Ferrari 400) but its not, and your not really sure what it is. I’ve never heard of one until now. Thats the reason I enjoy BF learn something new almost weekly.

  13. Bob Washburne

    For years, from th mid-80s until the late 90s, there was an ad for these cars painted on a railroad bridge over Rt 130 in Pennsauken NJ. A side shot of the car, with “The Bitter Beginning” underneath. I often wondered if this car really existed. Thank you for solving the mystery.

  14. Magnus

    LS swaps on such cars are a sign of cluelessness. Beside the exceptionally made mess on the engine wiring their mechanics are simple and straight.
    If that is mine, a swap to a Lotus GM 3.6 4-valve engine would produce
    many more hp and torque then with any of this yesterdays gas guzzling pushrod engines. With the 3.6-24 its still close to original specs. Original.
    That what makes the value and not any useless led-lighting or ls engines.

    The interior seems oversprayed to grey, restoring the original colour needs
    some work and commonsense, but is not impossible then the almost import- ant parts on it, the seats, look okay as i can see on the few shown pics here.

    Erich Bitter is a gentlemen and still alive and i think he can make some advise for both of the deformed bumpers. Or supply the owner a pair
    of new bumpers.

  15. Chris In Australia

    Plenty of room for an LS or SBC, or even the Holden 308. Under the skin, there’s plenty in common with Holden VB-VL Commodore. RHD conversion anyone?

  16. Chris

    I owned a Bitter in 1984 – 1986. When it came time to sell, I could not give that damned thing away nobody wanted that weird, slightly underpowered oddball. I sold it for very cheap just to get rid of it and get back into Porsches.

    • wizzy

      I have a 2005 Jag just like that.

  17. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Lovely looking car. I’ve heard of the Bitter car, but I’ve never seen one in person.

  18. Rolls-Royce

    The furst time I knew of Bitter, I was in wikipedia.
    I like the car.

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