As with every automotive enthusiasts, I’d like to believe, I have some amnesia about some periods of automobile history. Show me a 1985 and 1986 Audi 4000 side by side, and I can rattle off the subtle changes between model years; but show me some 1950s American iron and outside of the real standouts, they’re all a bit vanilla to me. I can’t tell you the difference between, for example, a 1955 Pontiac and a 1955 Mercury – I guess, if I go and look at pictures, the Mercury had slightly pointier headlight surrounds, but generally the way that I tell the difference between those cars is to walk up to them and say “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Mercury’ on it”. I’m sure it’s one of my many shortcomings as a person, though just as I can identify that NASCAR and NHRA racing takes a fair amount of talent, it’s not the talent I’d prefer to explore. People who can identify those cars and all of the specific model year changes are, to me, semi-Rainman-esque in their ability to memorize and quickly recount every single 1950s cars. Of course, to them I bet every single car from the 1980s looks exactly the same. Line up a Fiat Dino, an Audi 100 Coupe S and an Opel Manta (along with a handful of other cars that share the same basic silhouette) and I bet they’d be doing the same thing as me – walking up to this “blue one” and proclaiming “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Opel’ on it”:
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If you drew an imaginary line between the family trees of the C107 Mercedes-Benz SLC and the E31 BMW 8 Series, therein would lie the somewhat odd but quite interesting Bitter SC. Open the door, and it’s obvious that the Bitter was also the envy of the 1980s Maserati interiors which resulted in the perhaps even more ill-conceived TC by Maserati. But the level of luxury found in the Bitter speaks to a period when personal luxury coupes were all the rage, and most of them were equipped like the SC – full of wood trim, luxurious leather and electronic features, motivated just enough to pass the plebeian Golfs and Mercedes diesels that litter the Autobahn. Of course, in such a luxurious coupe you wouldn’t want to do anything as pedestrian as change your own gear – you’d have people who would do that for you, and Bitter was happy to oblige with it’s Opel (nee GM) derived drivetrain. History has treated these personal luxury coupes fairly poorly; the L6, the SLC and the Bitter SC all have languished in value while their higher-performance or topless cousins have accelerated away into the auction blocks. Perhaps that’s an unfitting tribute for what was a top-flight luxury coupe from the 1980s, one man’s attempt to match the mystique of legendary brands like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. It was a noble attempt, but as they say, it’s often lonely at the top:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Bitter SC 3.9 on eBay
I have a secret automotive fetish. I’d day fetish is a really strong word, but I’m not sure how else to describe it, because admitting it makes me feel a bit dirty. I actually like the third generation early 1970s Chevrolet Nova. Now, I realize that admitting the problem is the first step towards rectifying the issue, but there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it won’t go away. I’m not even sure why, but some of those late 60s/early 70s GM muscle cars just look…well, cool to me. The GTO Judge, the Chevelle SS, the Nova SS – they just look right in a weird and slightly disturbing way. So to redeem myself, instead of owning one of them, I’d probably sport for a much more rare scaled down model from their European cousin, Opel. Just as the Opel GT was a 3/4 scale Corvette, Opel had a mini muscle car too in the Manta, and U.S. customers had the option of the Manta Rallye that kicked thing up a notch:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 Opel Manta Rallye on eBay
Do you ever see a car and think “Boy, there must be some interesting stories behind those miles”? I do, be they poorly modded 1980s Mercedes-Benz models, tired old Porsche race cars, rusty BMWs posing with canoes on the roof (yes, there’s one on eBay right now) or pretty much any Audi ever. But today, I stumbled across something that you just don’t see often. I’d say ever, but of course that would preclude today, and I try not to be overly prone to hyperbole – so let’s just say that were you to buy and drive this Opel Kadett L Wagon, you would be extremely unlikely to ever stumble across another in your commute. And it certainly must have some stories; the dent on the hood, the woodgrain paneling (that was factory, believe it or else!), the minilites, the….DVD player?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Opel Kadett L Wagon on eBay
The Bitter SC is, to me, a very interesting car. Born from the relatively pedestrian Opel Senator platform, the slinky 2-door coupe seemed to borrow a fair amount of its character from the much more exclusive Ferrari lineup outside. Underneath, though, the looks were not backed up by a sonorous V12, but rather the 3 liter inline-6 (later bumped to 3.9 liters) from the Opel lineup. This was mated to a GM-derived 3-speed automatic. Though the power output was respectable for the day at 180 horsepower, the heavy automatic Bitter was much more a cruiser than a backroad bandit. That was reinforced by the interior, which has a definite bias towards luxury instead of sport. This was not a sports car but instead a grand tourer, and the appointments inside were made to the highest standards of the day. The competition was not the Porsche 911, but rather cars like the Maserati Kyalami and the Ferrari 400i. The SC was an exclusive car, with only around 400 examples produced; but today, they’re a great value in the classic car market.