Rare Rides: Extended Luxury With the 1986 Zimmer Quicksilver

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Have you ever wished for a very luxurious coupe for grand touring purposes — one with an unconventional engine placement and the underpinnings of an economy car?

Well, we’ve got a car for you: the 1988 Zimmer Quicksilver.

First, the brand. Zimmer was founded in 1978 as a coachwork company in Syracuse, New York. The company’s mission was simple: Use existing production cars as a foundation upon which to implement neoclassical styling. Founder Paul Zimmer came up with the idea for a specialized company to produce elaborately rococo rides, and looped in his son Paul to run the business.

The company’s initial offering was the Golden Spirit, which entered production in 1978. Ford provided Mustangs as the base vehicle, and Zimmer stretched the wheelbase, added extensive fiberglass bodywork, and replaced the stock Ford interior with a much more luxurious one. The styling was intended to look roughly like a pre-War Mercedes-Benz coupe. In the fashionable late Seventies, the Golden Spirit was a success.

Continuing on into the Eighties, Zimmer grew its business to employ around 175 people at its peak. Seeking a second model offering, the company wanted to step away from approximations of past vehicles and make an elegant coupe of a new design. The new Pontiac Fiero seemed like a good basis for such a coupe for several reasons, and thus the Quicksilver was born. In 1984, new Fieros of 2.8-liter V6 and three-speed automatic specification were sent from Pontiac Assembly to the Zimmer manufacturing facility, appropriately located in Florida. From there, a transformation occurred.

The first thing removed from the Fiero were its body panels, which were all plastic and bolted very simply to the frame. To get the proportions spot-on for a luxury coupe, the Fiero’s wheelbase was stretched by 16 inches, with an overall length increase of 28 inches. The long, sweeping body of the Quicksilver was fiberglass, and its lines concealed the underlying Fiero-ness fairly well. You might even recognize the corner markers from a contemporary Corvette. Front grille inserts were custom, and cast iron.

Zimmer stripped down the Fiero’s economy car interior, replacing cheap plastic panels with real wood ones. The upholstery was always leather, and sourced from Italy. Special attention was paid to finishes, build quality, fitment of parts and trim, and covering surfaces in shag carpeting. This was a luxury car, after all. Improvements arising from the vehicle’s additional length included a glovebox (not found on Fiero) and a much larger trunk — both cargo areas being necessary for grand tours. Assorted interior handles, pulls, and lights were borrowed from Cadillac.

Zimmer didn’t spend any time altering the engine or transmission from stock Fiero status. Given it was a vehicle for longer-distance jaunts, Zimmer overlooked a fuel tank rework: The tiny eight-gallon tank from the Fiero carried over here, and meant a seriously short cruising range. At least the steering was considered, as a rack-and-pinion setup replaced GM’s simpler recirculating ball system.

Proud of its Quicksilver, Zimmer felt the care and design warranted a slight increase in cost. While the Fiero cost around $12,000 at the time, the Quicksilver was a bit more dear: $48,000 ($113,000 adjusted). The Quicksilver found customers even given its asking price, and continued in production through the end of the Fiero’s run in 1988.

Zimmer found itself under new ownership by the mid-Nineties, renamed to Art Zimmer Neo-Classic Motor Car company in 1997. Now headquartered in New York, AZNCMC builds up to 20 cars each year, split between custom Mustangs and custom Chevrolet Silverados.

Today’s Rare Ride is in excellent condition, in stunning white over boudoir. The dealer invites you to make an offer.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 46 comments
  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Apr 09, 2020

    I have an acquaintance that worked at the Clenet factories. He told me that, after some of the changes, it was a tense situation not knowing if he'd have a job the next day.

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 10, 2020

    Wow... how garish! It's almost a caricature of a car, for some reason it makes me think of some of the fictitious cars from the Grand Theft Auto video game series. I can see how these would turn heads and I can also see how there would be a niche market of customers who'd pay a crap ton of money to own one. (Not for me but to each their own.) What a really neat car!

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.