Live Auctions

Gullwing Project: 1988 Sterling Cimbria SS

In the world of kit cars, it can be difficult to sift through the numerous varieties of exotic-looking creations that were seemingly as vast and varied as the imaginations behind their existence. We all know about the Kelmarks and the Bradley GTs, but there are numerous other makes and models that relied on similar components as it related to running gear, as seemingly every single one of these wild kit-based creations used VW pans and engines. Regardless, the bodies themselves were far more exotic than the drivetrain would otherwise indicate. The seller does not know much about the gullwinged coupe in his garage and sounds eager to move it along. Based on the windshield decor, I’ll go out on a limb and call it a Sterling Cimbria SS, and it’s listed here on Facebook Marketplace in Edgecomb, Maine for $4,500.

Whenever you see a listing for an oddball car that needs a fair amount of work and the seller says things like “just want it out of my shop,” you start to wonder if this is the case of a customer who left their project behind or otherwise didn’t pay their bill and there’s now a mechanic’s lien on it. Whatever the case may be, I can imagine these kit cars are tempting for both the seasoned mechanic and the inexperienced novice alike, as it seems like a simple process to drop a VW engine and then start ripping around town, convincing everyone you know that you just bought a Ferrari. But even with the low-budget running gear, cars like these still need the usual assortment of wiring issues sorted out not to mention all of the other aspects that go into building a car, from assembling the interior to sorting out the suspension.

The Cimbria SS was intended to be a more refined version of the original Cimbria, which is to say it had some additional creature comforts that made living with a kit car on a daily basis seem more palatable. Photos from brochures issued at the time also showed the SS coming standard with what looks like a very nice Recaro interior, and if this car still had the period-correct buckets inside when the seller picked it up, I could actually see buying it just for the seats and then attempting to sell the striped kit for more than you paid. Recaro seats in general have been climbing rapidly in price, especially for the rare 1970s and 1980s models that are all the rage for installing in so-called “rad”-era vehicles. If the Cimbria SS was purchased for peanuts because it was a non-runner and the previous owner didn’t know the value of the seats, I could see selling the seats for a tidy profit and then just padding the result with the sale of an otherwise complete car.

The Cimbria SS with a VW engine that the seller claims he doesn’t know much about, and of course, it’s always good to see the transmission still attached. The SS trim of the classic Cimbria offered drivers other benefits beyond the racy bucket seats, including greater structural rigidity, digital gauges, and an overall more comfortable cabin. The tricky aspect of projects like these is that kit car values are hit or miss – would you pay a fair price for a rare but unfinished car like this? It’s hard to say, as the bodywork looks quite nice and the interior is clean, save for the missing seats. The network of folks who rebuild these forgotten kits is a tight-knit community, so certainly there’s someone out there who can put this Cimbria SS back to its original glory. If you were the builder, what engine would you put in it?

Comments

  1. Connecticut Mark

    Looks like a Bricklin

    Like 6
  2. Raymond L Saunders

    Its a ZoomZoomy3000, itll do 350mph, look at the colors….Special John played w it….hes the one you guys love so much…

    Like 2
  3. Rick

    I’ll clear this up right now: The seller probably put “Sterling” because that’s what most people think when they see this car. The Sterling has the canopy top. This is not a Cimbria SS, but the first generation Cimbria, evidenced by the door hinge location and some subtle body clues. For the guys and gals who love the vintage VW kits, this was one of the better ones. I have a buddy who had an SS Cimbria with a very warm Pinto engine in it – I think it dyno’s somewhere around 275hp – still hooked to the VW transmission. Gearing was totally wrong, but he drove it everywhere and didn’t break the transmission when he would romp the go pedal. And yes, the windshield is bespoke to the car and said buddy actually owns the mold to the glass, so it’s still available.

    Like 15
  4. Raymond L Saunders

    Thank you for clearing it up for all of us peons needing moldy glass

    Like 6
  5. sakingsbury20@yahoo.com Member

    ohh no, not again, I’d say like someone’s mom let um use the computer again unsupervised…..

    Like 2
  6. David G

    In their day, these were one of the best of the kit cars and I still have photos of their ads, brochure and cars on my computer. I loved these in the late 70’s when I was in college and really thought about getting one once I got out, got a job and had some money. I even went through their “factory” in Milwaukee when I was in that town for a visit. They had a mid-engine V8 version in their shop they were custom building for a customer. A very memorable visit. By the time I “got a job and had some money” the reality of the work/time involved with kit cars made me see them as not really worth it because in the end it is still a kit car. None the less, my favorite thing to read about on this site is old kit cars for sale!

    Like 6
    • Preston Mason

      I have car I built from a sketch. Used the Cimbria II body from Nereia in South Carolina. Shortened nose, extended body 12 in to increase passenger compartment, lengthened door and moved door sill.
      Professionally built Space-Frame chassis with Heidel Mustang II front end with 15 in. rotors and Wilwood circle track 4-piston calipers and Pantera rear suspension. Has 350 chevy from Faerman racing engines Houston, and 5-spd ZF transaxle (new from factory). Has custom leather dash, seats and interior. 17-in wheels designed by Boyd Coddington. Driven 11000 miles from completion. Have gotten too old to drive it. Want to sell to appreciative buyer. Asking $25,000.

      • Claudio

        It’s time to post an ad on barn finds

  7. Howie Mueler

    Listed a month ago, i will guess those doors rattle.

    Like 2
  8. Ward William

    I’d be tempted to go electric with this.

    Like 1
  9. Claudio

    I would be tempted to run far away from this …

    Like 2
  10. Stephen Coe

    Wow money no objection Porsche 911 GTS 3 make it go like a Lamborghini😎😎😎 I’m joking

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