Oddball Exotic: 1983 Bremen Sebring

Poetic license is a wonderful thing. The seller of this 1983 Bremen Sebring described it as looking like a miniature Corvette. I guess that he’s right to a point. Mind you, it does require you to squint a bit. Or perhaps you need to cross your eyes! Regardless, this is a car that offers its next owner exotic looks at a bargain-basement price. Adding to its attraction is that it derives its underpinnings from the humble Beetle. That means that parts are plentiful and affordable, and maintenance is a breeze. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Chuck F for referring the Sebring to us. It is located in Fort Washington, Maryland, and has been listed for sale here on Facebook. You will struggle to find a more exotic looking car for the asking price of $3,500.

The Bremen Sebring’s bloodline can be traced back to the UK in the early 1970s, where it was sold as the Nova. From there, the car was manufactured in several countries, including in Australia as the Purvis Eureka. When it found its way to the US, there was a problem using the “Nova” name, as the rights for this were owned by some upstart company called General Motors. Thus, it became the Sterling, and after some later upgrades, it became the Sebring. These upgrades included improvements to the bumpers, along with pop-up headlights. In keeping with its exotic looks, the Sebring comes with a unique entry system. We’re used to cars being described as 2-door or 4-door, but what would you call this? Could it be mono-door, or perhaps no-door? The entire roof section, windshield, side glass, and cockpit sides raise on hydraulic rams to allow entry and exit. This is great in theory, but it does have a few drawbacks. Occupants need to slide in and out of the vehicle over some wide sills, and for those of us with a few birthdays under our belts, this is not going to be an elegant or dignified sight! The paint on this one is looking tired, but thanks to the fact that the body is a one-piece fiberglass component, rust is not an issue. The same might not be true below decks because under all of that fiberglass is a garden-variety VW Beetle frame. These can be prone to rust, so that is one area that will need checking. However, these can be easy to repair, and if a complete frame replacement is required, they can be found relatively cheaply. All of the exterior fittings and trim pieces are present, and the unique glass looks to be in good condition.

Being a kit car based on the humble Beetle, the interior’s quality is heavily dependent on the skills of the person who builds the car. That means that they can be a hit-or-miss proposition, and this one is quite typical. It probably presented reasonably well initially, but time hasn’t been kind to the trim. The sports seats are showing their age, as is the carpet and the dash. It will take some work to return it to its best, but it is still possible to find suppliers who stock the correct carpet in a range of colors. I have seen one Sebring fitted with leather power seats from a Fox-Body Mustang. It also featured some nice VDO gauges and a simulated carbon-fiber dash fascia. It sounds odd, but the effect was quite professional. However, the buyer will have to think carefully before committing to trim materials. The windows on a Sebring don’t open very far, and airflow can hover uncomfortably in that region somewhere between not very much and none at all. In hotter climes, that can make leather and vinyl seat upholstery act like glue on human flesh, which can lead to some unpleasant experiences. However, it is possible to equip a Sebring with air conditioning, which could be worth considering.

The Sebring body was made to be dropped onto a Beetle chassis and drivetrain with minimal effort, although there have been some owners that have pushed the boundaries with their builds. I have heard of these fitted with a V6, although a Wankel rotary can offer fantastic bang-for-your-buck. This one features the air-cooled flat-four VW unit, bolted to a standard 4-speed manual transmission. It isn’t clear whether the engine runs or even turns freely, so that would be a question worth asking. As humble as it may all be, it still offers performance potential if the Beetle drivetrain is retained. These little engines can be made to produce some impressive power levels relatively cheaply. The fiberglass Sebring body is lighter than the donor car’s original steel, and the center of gravity is also lower. That means that the Sebring should offer better performance and handling than a similarly equipped Beetle, which is an intriguing prospect.

The Bremen Sebring might not offer quite the cachet of a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, or a Corvette, but it also isn’t going to cost as much to buy or maintain. That is what makes these such a great little car because they can make the owner feel like a million dollars without the need to spend a million dollars. They also offer their owners scope to let their imagination run wild because they aren’t dealing with a numbers-matching classic with a high potential value. If you want to look and feel like a king without having to pay a king’s ransom, perhaps this Bremen Sebring is the affordable project that you’ve been looking for.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    A pressure washer inside and out would have done wonders to help sell this car. You can get some pretty serious VW engines built these days for something like this. Would up the fun factor.

    Like 5
  2. GPAK

    🧐Does that badge above the taillight say SebringTURBO ?

    Like 5
  3. Rick

    Let me jump in here before there is any possible confusion on the history and what is available to these cars. This is a series 2 Sebring – second generation. Astute viewers will note the “Turbo” moniker on the rear. That is because initially, from the factory, these were slated to have turbo VW (aircooled) engines in them. That didn’t happen – VW did not want to be associated with anything aftermarket, especially kit cars. So, very often, factory built cars came with GM 3.8 V6 engines with the radiator in the front “frunk”. Roughly 300 second generations Sebrings were produced, most with VW power – in total, no more than 500 Sebring of both generations were produced, which is amazing considering how popular they were.
    This is not a Sterling kit despite the resemblance. This was actually a splash mold from the Sterling made in 1976 and set into production by one of the salespeople who left the Sterling company (after illegally splashing a mold, of course). Parts are non-existent. Nobody has verified that the Sterling windshield will fit the Sebring of either generation, though it should be close (if not needing a little bodywork). Side and rear windows are a different shape and would not be a straight swap. Luckily, it appears that all the glass is undamaged in this car. If anyone has any questions on a Sebring or Sterling variant, don’t hesitate to contact me. I have almost complete histories on all the variants.

    Like 30
    • Skorzeny

      Rick, I thought there were a few things I knew a lot about, but wow… You have these down!

      Like 3
  4. michael h streuly

    Another VW powered piece of crap. Does not look like a vette. Owner is delusional.

    Like 3
  5. michael streuly

    Another VW powered piece of crap. Does not look like a vette. Owner is delusional.

    Like 1
  6. Stephen R Bierce

    The “mad scientist” in me perpetually wants to take one of these old exotica kit cars and set the body on top of Westfield or Ariel minimalist sports car mechanicals–for the shock value.

  7. EPO3

    More like click your heels and dream of bowling green kentucky

    Like 2
  8. banjo

    This would be a fantastic build as an electric car.

  9. Danny

    Lots of switches on that dash to operate. Wow.

  10. Steve Clinton

    A kit car by any other name is still a kit car.

  11. Bill McCoskey

    This car is located about 30 minutes from me. If a potential buyer is serious, I can look at it [I’m a retired appraiser, NADA board member, restorer and forensic mechanic, court accepted “expert”.]

    Like 5
  12. Malcolm Boyes

    I might be tempted to lose the top altogether..put put on a low windshield/bugscreen..lose a lot of weight and have a Sebring Speedster..

    Like 3
    • Rick

      Wouldn’t be the first time. There was a custom canopy with a speedster windshield in Oz for their variant of the Nova.

      Like 1
  13. CJM

    Tail lamps look like off a Fox body Mercury Capri. Not a bad looking rig overall.

    Like 1
  14. Jim

    All because Bruce Meyer showed the world how it was done.

    Like 1
  15. chrlsful

    like the same era 15 spoke turbines.
    Must B dodge as ford had 11

    • Rick

      VW bolt pattern, therefore, VW wheels. I don’t see adapters on them. Keep in mind, aftermarket VW parts were and still are available in thousands of varieties, wheels included.

  16. John

    Looked like a Camaro to me.

  17. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    sold!

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