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The Hillman Zimp by Zagato: One of three

In the automotive world, some stories remain etched in the annals of history, and the tale of the 1963 Hillman Zimp is one such narrative that seamlessly blends British engineering with Italian style.

Conceived by the chief Zagato stylist, Ercole Spada, the Hillman Zimp emerged as a striking collaboration between British technology and Italian design. Crafted with an aluminum re-body of the Hillman Imp by Zagato, the car was a vision of elegance and speed that, unfortunately, never made it to the production line.

Developed in a mere nine months, the Zimp made its debut at the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show, showcasing Zagato’s prowess in creating a vehicle that paired comfort with performance. Despite its projected retail price of £1,200, the Zimp faced an unfortunate fate due to financial troubles within the Rootes Group, ultimately preventing its mass production.

Photo courtesy of Bring a Trailer

For those fortunate enough to experience the Zagato Hillman Zimp, the memory is eternally marked by the comfortable ride, accentuated by a well-thought-out driving position and a bright interior. The unmistakable roar of the 875 cc all-alloy Coventry Climax FWMA-based engine, combined with the lightweight aluminum body, contributed to the car’s surprising speed. However, its feathery build led to aerodynamic lift issues at 60 mph.

The Zimp’s inception can be traced back to Zagato’s recognition of the potential for an aluminum-bodied vehicle based on Rootes Group’s impressive Hillman Imp. This idea later evolved into a positive reception for a Mini-based 1961 Zagato GT, welcomed by Rootes Group for the infusion of much-needed Italian glamour. Three prototypes were meticulously crafted, with two being commissioned by the same owner – a white Deluxe CUD 180B and a red Deluxe CUD 181B – both ready for the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show.

Despite its lightness allowing it to reach speeds of up to 87 mph, the Zagato Zimp never entered mass production. Rootes Group’s financial struggles played a significant role, but Chrysler’s entry into the scene, acquiring a 50% stake in Rootes, ultimately led to the cancellation of the project.

zagato hillman zimp

The Zagato Hillman Zimp stands as a unique chapter in automotive history, reflecting the intersection of British and Italian automotive prowess. With its distinctive Zagato design and the potential to be a stylish and economic alternative, the Zimp remains a captivating piece of automotive lore, forever remembered for what could have been.

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Paolo Pininfarina

On April 9, 2024, the automotive world lost one of its iconic figures as Paolo Pininfarina, President of the Pininfarina Group, passed away in Turin at the age of 65. His passing leaves behind a legacy of innovation, dedication, and excellence that has deeply impacted both the automotive industry and the wider design world.

Paolo Pininfarina’s journey with the Pininfarina Group was one of unwavering commitment and passion. Born in Turin on August 28, 1958, he graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Politecnico di Torino. His professional career began in 1982 when he joined Pininfarina, following stints at renowned companies such as Cadillac, Honda, and General Motors.

Throughout his tenure, Paolo played a pivotal role in steering the Pininfarina Group towards new horizons. Under his leadership, the company embarked on a diversification journey in the 1980s, expanding its scope beyond automotive design to become a benchmark in various design fields, from industrial design to architecture, nautical, and aeronautical design.

In 1987, Paolo assumed the role of President and CEO of Pininfarina Extra S.r.l., a subsidiary specializing in industrial design, furniture, architecture, yachting, and aviation. His visionary approach and innovative mindset propelled Pininfarina Extra to new heights, solidifying its reputation as a leader in design innovation.

His contributions to the automotive world are equally remarkable. Paolo Pininfarina oversaw the creation of several iconic vehicles, including the concept car Sergio, a tribute to his late father, Senator for life Sergio Pininfarina, and the Automobili Pininfarina Battista, an electric hypercar unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Beyond his professional achievements, Paolo Pininfarina will be remembered for his humility, kindness, and accessibility. Those who had the privilege of meeting him attest to his genuine warmth and willingness to engage with others, traits that endeared him to colleagues and industry peers alike.

“Paolo Pininfarina was an immensely significant figure, not only in his professional capacity but also on a personal level. Having had the honor of knowing him personally, I cherish memories of his kindness and approachability. I deeply appreciate his willingness to engage and his valuable contributions to our projects, notably the video endeavor showcasing the Ferrari Sergio.”
Andreas Scheidl, Founder of carrozzieri-italiani.com.

As we mourn the loss of Paolo Pininfarina, we also celebrate his enduring legacy. His indelible mark on the world of design and automotive innovation will continue to inspire future generations. Let us honor his memory by embracing his spirit of creativity, passion, and excellence in all our endeavors.

In remembrance of Paolo Pininfarina, a visionary leader and a true gentleman.