One of the only three prototypes Carrozzeria Zagato built on the running gear of the Hillman Imp, named "Zimp", and introduced at the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show.
The Hillman Imp, a highly advanced new small car, was launched in 1963. The engine was an extremely light, mainly aluminium 875cc unit and was based on the ‘Coventry Climax FWMA’ Le Mans class-winning racer. The Imp had many other advantages, including all independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, an all synchromesh gearbox and a diaphragm spring clutch.
The Imp was produced in a new factory in Linwood, Scotland. Competition came from the highly popular Mini.
Zagato in Italy decided to produce the Zimp, via its recently formed British Zagato Company, as a fine example of the combination of British technology and Italian styling flair. Rootes agreed and three Imps were dispatched to Italy to be rebodied, using the floorpans and mechanics of the successful Imp.
Ercole Spada, chief stylist for the Zagato design studio during the 1960’ designed the new car with very advanced lines. An interesting sketch of the ZIMP from E. Spada is featured on the recently published book "Zagato e Spada designer".
After the launch however the Zimp never really took off and just three were built. Stories at that time suggested that the model may have been ‘killed off’ by Rootes prior to the introduction of the Imp Californian due to fears that the Zimp would be too much competition.
This important Zagato has been featured in few British publications, including Auto Italiana, Small Car, Classic and Sports Car and Classic Cars. It has been regularly ‘exercised’ on the road and has been cared for all the time since the restoration. The car is very light, it is an "ode to aluminum". It was restored maintaining the "hand-made prototype spirit", not over-restored.
Everything works properly, including the mechanism to lift the front eyelids.
I have huge history file with an engaging content, including very rare never published photos from Zagato factory.
Hundreds pictures here: https://zimp.shutterfly.com
Thank you for your attention on this significant piece of one of the iconic Italian coachbuilder's history.
Jan 26, 2017
Jul 30, 2015