Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Zagato Zimp

Now walking past it on its stand at the recent Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show you could tell it was something special, that crisp clean body and “Z” badges made me want to know more, thankfully after a “do you want to meet the owner?” I got the chance to have a chat with Mike Hanna.

So the Zimp, the long and short of it is it’s a Hillman Imp that’s been rebodied with much cleaner lines by non-other than Zagato, hence those “Z” badges usually reserved for Aston Martin’s and the like. 3 Imps were driven from the Rootes factory in the UK across Europe to Milan to be restyled by the man behind the Aston Martin BD4 GT, Ercol Spada. The cars were shown at the 1964 Earls Court Motor show however they were never to be aS on being seen by Chrysler, who by this point virtually owned Rootes, they put a stop to it after finding out there was only a verbal agreement between Lord Rootes and Zagato to supply cars. At the time the Imp was struggling and I suppose Chrysler didn’t want additional Italian styled competition.

The cars, especially this one, had been kept in the Zagato family until Mike purchased it in 1987. He had obtained it from Anthony Charles, co-director of British Zagato. He had obtained it from Peter Thomas the Director of British Zagato.

From speaking to Mike, he confirmed that this was the first to be built and this was exactly what you’d expect a prototype/styling exercise to be like. When he restored it there was still the cut off ends of the metal rods used to form the skeleton over the chassis the aluminum body would be shaped to, that had been cut out once the body was welded in place. Also when he got the car it has an overheating problem that was simply the fact the heat shield hadn’t been installed causing the carburetors to overheat and the fuel to evaporate.

With the car now shod in aluminum it’s obviously a lot lighter than the cars it’s based on which means that little 1000cc engine out back will take it up to 95mph!!!!! Although its believed the engine was tuned out of the box by “Nerus Engineering”.

Now with this likely to be the only road going version you’d expect to be coveted and trailered everywhere particularly since its only covered 35000 miles, no chance it done a few European rallies since getting back on the road. Oh do you remember I told you 3 were built, well Mike owns another one which he’s hoping to also restore.


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