Needs Tune Up: 1975 Cimbria Kit Car

Just after featuring the first Cimbria I can recall seeing in all my time writing for Barn Finds, another one in far better condition has appeared on craigslist. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rocco for spotting this one, which does have some running issues but is otherwise complete and comes with a clean title. Find it here on craigslist in Wisconsin for $5,500. 

The Cimbria follows a similar formula of placing a racy body atop VW Beetle floor pans and drivetrain, effectively creating the appearance of an exotic sports car without any meaningful performance credentials. I actually just saw a Bradley GT parked at work a few days ago, and my God – these are tiny Kelmark GT we’ve featured as an Exclusive. The (and just dropped the price on) has far more presence than the Bradley, but I’ve not seen a Cimbria in person to determine how it sizes up.

These kit cars always seem to follow the same formula of gullwing doors, puffy leather seats, and a cramped cockpit that very few people can likely drive comfortably. The seller notes this Cimbria rides atop the standard VW chassis with “lowered seat pans” and comes with a telescoping/tilt steering wheel, so perhaps taller folks could drive this Cambria in comfort. The interior looks fairly well preserved, and the seller notes all glass is in good shape.

The motor is your bread-and-butter 1600CC VW mill with a four-speed and Weber carburetor. The seller notes it doesn’t run well at the moment, and is “…currently in need of a tune up,” but doesn’t elaborate any further. These kit cars are certainly geared towards a certain audience that finds them interesting, and as I’ve learned with the Kelmark, it’s an acquired taste in terms of the potential audience that wants to restore one. But given the choice, the Kelmark would still be my go to, followed by a Cimbria in second and a Bradley in a distant third.

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  1. SquareLeft

    I think that this is the first windshield wiper arm I’ve seen that would require a yardstick to measure…

    Kit cars aren’t my cup of tea, but many years ago my friend and his engineer father built a Fiberfab Jamacian as his first car. It had a 289 and a 4-speed. The father built race cars and, therefore, the suspension was properly sorted from the beginning. Nice little car that would really scoot!

    • glen

      I have no interest in kit-cars, either, I just enjoy reading peoples comments on any car. Reading the comments is very informative, for example; I hadn’t heard of the car you mentioned.

  2. Rock On

    Kelmark with the Oldsmobile Toronado drivetrain is by far the best of the bunch.

  3. Timmy

    Take a foot off of the snout and extend the rear it will look much better

  4. Rick

    Cimbria, Sterling and Sebring are all the same size – about 15′ nose to tail and 42″ tall. The Cimbria sits a bit higher, but not by much, and is surprisingly roomy, even for a 6′ driver. I’ve sat in all, owned several (and still do), and the (early) Cimbria have more interior space than the Sterling or Sebring. Later MkII’s had an integrated floorpan that changed the space, and killed any footwell space the first generation allowed. This particular car is a first generation car and has been for sale for quite a while. Being complete and *almost* running, the price isn’t bad. Windshields are available if you know the right people and cost about 1/3 of the asking price. Plenty of room to go watercooled if that’s your thing – front “frunk” has space for a radiator.

  5. Paul Yaxley

    Looks similar to my Purvis Eureka (PS. My Fiberfab Jamaican is next to it).

    • Rick

      Looks good Paul! Eureka’s were Nova based, as you probably know already. Cimbria’s, despite what the developer of the car would contend, were based on the Sterling (Nova copy) of the day.

  6. Jesse

    Dont forget: anything that can fit an old VW engine *probably* can fit a WRX engine. Suddenly you have an itty-bitty death trap travelling 120 instead of 50!

  7. chrlsful

    there seems to be at least 2 variations on this one model.
    Either that or the pic on google show some who’ve taken the standard kit and really tricked it out. I see side treatments (wheel wells bulge out to BIG tries, different scoops – frnt rear, hood, etc) that are really sculpted (& beautiful).
    Most put better mechanicals than a Vee Dub underneath.
    But many don’t seem to have this yellow guy’s too long nose. Check em out (the II or il model?).

    Fiberfab Jamacian

    • Rick

      Depends on what you’re finding on Google, chrisful . There were actually (3) variants of the Cimbria. The series 1 – as listed above, the series 2 or “SS” and what eventually became the Bernardi in Canada, outfitted with Pantera GTS like wings and flares. The “SS” had slightly different dimensions and look. Key differences were door sizes; note the cut on the series 1 in the ad above; the SS had door cuts almost to the sill and much further into the roof – hinges almost met in the middle. The Bernardi took the SS and stepped it into a tube frame, mid-engine V8 configuration. Only 4 of those ever made it to production.

  8. Metoo

    Every time I see a photo of a kit car I really wish they would have one with the doors open just to insure that they do indeed open smoothly and correctly and don’t hang crooked.

  9. JoeNYWF64

    are those pop down hidden headlites on the yellow car?

    • Rick

      Yes. Doors drop on this model.

  10. BMW4RunninTundra

    In this instance, I’m glad I’m “late to the game”. That way I don’t get pounded for the fact that I like this one! I would make a lot of changes, but I do that with every vehicle own. As was mention earlier, WRX drivetrain, suspension built to match, and update the interior and off to the track with it! Yeah, would be way over your head financially but in reality, I buy to keep. Usually I get my money back in fun, driving pleasure, and the contentment of a job well done. (just my 1/2 cents worth)

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