It was designed by Bertone, right ?

Discussion in '1975 Bitter CD' started by Lee Iacocca, Aug 9, 2002.

  1. It looks like some '70s Bertone designs...

    And since they're allways working for many companies...<!-- Signature -->
  2. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    It certainly looks like either Bertone or Pinninfarina (not sure I spelled that right). Nice looking car, though. Understated. I like.<!-- Signature -->
  3. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    No, Opel introduced the first designs. It used Opel ergonomics, parts, but the body was designed by Bitter.<!-- Signature -->
  4. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    Looks a bit like a Datsun.<!-- Signature -->
  5. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    Everyone's saying that - And I'd have to be inclined to agree. An early Z series model. They share their similarities.
  6. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    looks like either an early Datsun Z, or maybe a Ferrari 365 GTB/4..interesting design
  7. Re: It was designed by Bertone, right ?

    I thought the body design was by Erich Bitter himself...
  8. The Bitter CD was designed by a General Motors design staff in cooperation with Opal. I used to have a 1974 Bitter CD and it was serial number 0009. Great car with standard 350 cu in Chevrolet Corvette engine and TH400 transmission. The rear end was a DeDion type Opal Diplomat unit. Many parts were off the shelf pieces from other manufacturers in Germany like Mercedes and BMW. I still have some pics. I was military at the time and had to leave the car in Germany when I left. Broke my heart. I always thought the car was styled like a Lamborghini Espada with the long quarter windows and back window/hatch.

    Paul Lee
    Montgomery, AL

    December 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm   0 or  Flag comment  

    The design was done at Opel Design when Dave Holls was the Director in the fall of 1971. I was working there for six months and spent some time in Herb Kilmers Diplomat Studio with Hodeo Kodama, a designer from Japan. About a month before I left to return to the States we received the assignment to do a coupe design for Eric Bitter. I had a sketch that Dave liked, a variation of an Oldsmobile version of the Vega with a beltline that rose into the rear quarter. We had modeled the Oldsmobile full-size in the Overseas Studio back in the States before I had left for Opel Design but the project was eventually cancelled.

    We started a scale model based on my design and one day when I was working on the body-side Dave came by and said: “Why don’t you do it like the Mangusta? (Mid body break line, exaggerated wheel flares and rising belt line). I hesitated to do that as I had purchased a Mangusta about a year earlier from GM Design. At that time the European design culture was still enamored with two cars designed in the late sixties by Georgetto Giugiaro, the Maserati Ghibli and the DeTomaso Mangusta.

    I took his suggestion and we continued developing the
    scale model of the car that would become the Opel Bitter CD. It had a long door and a special side window blow-out mechanism to prevent the large sideglass from tipping out at high speeds when there is high air pressure in the cabin. The studio engineer Herr Plotnikov worked directly with Opel Advanced Engineering and Eric Bitter. One day when I was drawing cut lines on the model Dave Holls also suggested the large glass hatch with no exterior framework. This was very unique for the time and George Gallion, his assistant also participated in the cars design development.

    I left Opel Design the first week in December of 1971 to return to my home and work in the United States. At that time the scale model theme was established and the design was finished except for details on the front bumper and tailamps. Hideo Kodama continued the design in my absence and completed the project.

    At home I forgot about the Bitter scale model as I was very busy with new assignments. About two years later someone told me about a great looking Opel in the Design Executive Garage. When I got there I walked around the wash bay and there it was in full side view. I was shocked, it was the scale model.... as a full-size running car!!!

    Later I had a chance to drive the car, about the size of a Camaro it felt big to me as I was a long time fan of small cars. It did look very good as the interpretation to full-size was very well done by Hideo and Herb. Of course I am sure that Dave and George were involved as well.

    I think that in retrospect it is one of the best looking Bitter cars, it was designed by very talented and skillful people. Since it is powered by the Chevrolet small block
    engine that makes it very special to me.

    I would really like to get one.



    Dave was hired into the GM Styling Staff after graduating from Michigan State University in the early fifties. He only worked a short time when he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Germany to aid in the U.S. post war effort to restore Europe.

    He bought a used VW Beetle and spent as much time as possible touring Europe going from one U. S. base to the other for gas at American prices.

    Dave was an Amertican hot rodder at heart, a closet people person before it became the thing to do and a genuine and highly respected classic car authority. He also was a very good designer with an excellent feel for classic elegance as well as sportiness in automobile design. He moved up rapidly at Design becoming Studio Chief In Buick and then Super Chief of the three Chevrolet Studios. He was then assigned to be the Director of Opel Design in Germany, following Chuck Jordan who returned to the States. It was at Opel that he met Eric Bitter who wanted to build a special coupe off of the Chevrolet powered Diplomat chassis. He mentored the Bitter CD and was enthusiastic about the design.

    Dave returned to the States after three years and participated in the design of many outstanding vehicles.

    A collector of iconic classic cars he wrote one of the only auto design history books of the time with Michael Lamm, “A Century Of American Style”. This wonderful book is a benchmark for auto design history.

    Dave also was writing a book about automotive aerodynamics but it was never published.

    DICK RUZZIN / 12-27-2011


    >Herb Kilmer was a German designer hired by Clair Macichan shortly after he arrived in Germany from GM Styling to create a styling staff for Opel. Herb was a sensitive person with elegant good taste. He embodied everything necessary to design cars that truly required German character and harmony. The Bitter CD was done in his studio under his responsibility.

    >Hideo Kodama was a designer from Japan, the first hired by a European car company. He also was hired by Clair Macichan who was sent by Harley Earl to Germany to start a design office for Opel, build a building and hire a staff. Hideo exerted a very creative, artistic and harmonic influence at Opel Design through his beautiful sketches and his personal presence. He also was a very large design contributor throughout the years, ascending to the position beyond studio chief. He fathered the Opel Corsa and all of it’s variations for many years. Hideo became a design super star in Japan through his work at Opel.

    >George Gallion was an American designer from Georgia. He had been assigned to Opel Design as Assistant to the Director in the late 60s and stayed for the rest of his career. A bright and very creative person, he was the heart of Opel Design for many years and made many significant contributions to Opel’s success. Before going to Opel Design his creativity was well known. Working for Dave Holls he participated in the design of the 1966 Buick Riviera and the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, two GM Design icons.

    It was my pleasure and great good fortune to work with these three great designers, all very skillful and highly motivated. They also became my friends.

    DICK RUZZIN, 12-27-2011


    Eric Bitter was a German engineer who had started his career as a successful race driver. At one time he had worked with Ferdinand Piesche, later to become chairman at VW. Eric started an aftermarket auto accessory company after retiring from racing as a driver and this led to other opportunities and he quickly decided he wanted to build cars.

    He approached Opel with the idea to build a coupe off of the Opel Diplomat sedan which was powered by a 327ci Chevrolet small block V8 engine. During early testing for the Diplomat Opel had to fit these engines with special heads to allow more coolant flow as sustained high speeds on the Autobahn caused overheating.

    Bitter’s proposal resulted in the Opel Bitter CD, Herb Kilmer later told me that the name CD was a referance to “low aerodynamic drag”. Bitter, through his enthusiasm and vision went on to develop several special Opels throughout the years.

    DICK RUZZIN, 12-28-2011

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