Having written about nearly every other type of neoclassic car, I was excited to see my first Zimmer at the 2015 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction. Like other neoclassic cars, the Zimmer combines the reliability of a modern, fuel-injected powertrain with classic styling. The prominent waterfall grille, exposed headlamps, full-length running boards, and bustleback style rear end are all design characteristics of pre-war American cars.
While there have been many companies that produced cars in this style, Zimmer was one of the most successful. Founded in Florida, the company built over 1,500 cars during their peak years of 1978-1988.
Based on the picture, you may be thinking “Oh boy, here comes another lame kit car!” But if you lump the Spartan II in with the Excalibur, Gazelle, Tiffany, Zimmer, or any other neo-classic automobile, you would have made a serious mistake.
You see, reproductions of old-timey cars are often built around cheap mass-market vehicles such as a Ford Pinto or a Volkswagen. While this arrangement makes a neoclassic car practical to own, it also places them at the low end of the performance spectrum.
The Spartan II is different. While its rounded headlamps and swooping front fenders may harken back to the early days of motoring, it’s a completely different story under the hood. That’s because the Spartan II is actually based on the Nissan 300ZX, a compact sports car from Japan! With its front-engine, rear drive layout and 2+2 seating configuration, the Spartan II is a bit sportier than you might expect.
Although I feel my automotive proficiency is fairly well-rounded, there are a couple gaps in my knowledge. I understand that nobody is perfect, so I try not to beat myself up over the fact that I can’t make myself get into anything European or Japanese made before the mid-eighties, I’m not up to date on current supercars (hypercars? what are they calling them now?), and street rods all just look like the same ZZ Top album cover to me.
I also have a bad habit of calling everything that that looks really old but not American either an Excalibur or a “Cruella de Vil Car”, depending on whether I am talking to a car guy or not. So when I saw this old lady barreling down the 17, with a death grip on the steering wheel and, I’m imagining, a cartoonish twinkle of determination in her eyes, taking a folding card table somewhere, wearing a rain poncho underneath her jacket, on a very hot, very dry day in Phoenix, I just assumed that I had just seen an Excalibur. A Cruella de Vil car.
I caught this one a while back, out in Scottsdale, most likely around the time of all the car auctions that go on out there in the beginning of the year. When I saw it coming, I assumed it was some sort of Lincoln concept car for some reason, or possibly some kind of horrifying body kit slapped onto a Cougar, with sort of a Toronado Trofeo flavor. I was struggling to get my phone out of my pocket to get a picture and wasn’t really able to get a good look at it. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the picture on the computer that I realized how obviously Fiero-based this thing was.
The car is actually a Zimmer Quicksilver, based on an stock 2.8, automatic Fiero. Only 170 of these atrocities were ever built.