Zagato Hillman Imp prototype for sale
A lightweight, aluminium bodied 'Zimp' built by Zagato, one of just three made, is being offered for sale
One of just three Hillman Imps designed and bodied by Italian styling house Zagato is being offered for sale.
The Zagato Imp, known as the 'Zimp', was the idea of the Milan-based Zagato company, and was styled by its most famous designer, Ercole Spada, who was also responsible for the Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. It featured aluminium bodywork, 10cm lower than the standard Imp, and was 90kg lighter, at 630kg.
It was planned to be produced in the UK by a new company, British Zagato Ltd. This meant that the purchase tax applied to vehicles imported into the UK could be avoided, but the predicted price of the Zimp was still significantly higher than that of rivals such as the Mini Cooper S, at around £1000.
However, what killed the Zimp was intervention by Hillman's parent company, Chrysler. The Zagato deal had been agreed in 1964 with Hillman boss Lord Rootes, but around the same time Chrysler took ownership of Hillman. Chrysler directors felt the Zimp would impact on sales of future fastback version of the factory Imp, such as the Californian, and used its influence to veto the Zagato project after just three had been built.
The car for sale is thought to be the prototype Zimp, created in the Zagato studio in Milan on an Imp that had been purchased secondhand by Zagato for evaluation and conversion. It was later bought by Franco Macri, a UK-based Zagato enthusiast who runs the Zagato Register of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club.
When Franco bought the Imp, around 1982, it was in need of full restoration due to catalytic corrosion between the alloy bodywork and the steel floorpan. This was completed by the late-1990s, and the Zimp has remained in the same ownership ever since.