The car pictured above looks like something that came out of legendary Italian design house Bertone in the 1970s, and we wouldn’t fault you for thinking it’s an Alfa Romeo or a Lancia upon a quick glance. But alas, the vehicle above is the Opel Coupe Diplomat concept, and it was actually designed in Russlesheim, Germany by Opel’s newly-hired design director George Gallion.
In the ‘60s, Opel opened a new design house at its headquarters in Russelsheim. The facility was an exact copy of the design center in Warren, Michigan at Opel’s parent company, General Motors, and its purpose was to empower Opel designers to establish a recognizable design language for the brand. The Experimental GT was the first car the company designed from the ground up all on its own, with the CD following in its footsteps.
Unveiled at the 1969 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Coupe Diplomat concept was based on the standard Opel Diplomat, and also borrowed its 5.4-liter V8 engine. The Gallion-designed bodywork consisted of a futuristic glass canopy roof that moved forward all in one piece, allowing the car to be free of A-pillars.
Bob Lutz, who was the head of marketing at Opel at the time, eventually decided to produce two more production-realistic CDs without the glass canopy roof, but the car never reached production as an Opel. Instead, racing driver Erich Bitter produced the production version under the Bitter marque, but its design was far from that of the well-received CD concept.