Pinto Powered! 1983 Cimbria SS Kit Car

Don’t you miss the days when you could find an inexpensive VW donor, order a kit car to put on top, and without depleting your life savings or mental well-being put together a creation that turns heads everywhere you go?  There was a time not that long ago when this very concept was feasible, and a man from Milwaukee by the name of Joe Palumbo got in on the act when he founded the Amore car company in 1978, then along came the Cimbria.  The company claimed it could be built in about 120 hours, and if you had a really strong set of skills, with a lot of perseverance maybe that could have actually been attained.  If you’ve been in the market for a kit car and prefer one that’s already in completed form, this Cimbria SS might be worth a look.  It’s located in Ringoes, New Jersey, and can be spotted here on Facebook Marketplace with an asking price of $12,000.

Barn Finds would like to send out a big thank you to reader Roger for the great tip on this one!  The ad lists the car as a 1983 Volkswagen Beetle, and the seller says that it was created around the year 1984.  Although the Cimbria was already assembled when the current owner acquired it, he claims to have all the documentation, parts list, and build manual.  Judging from the photos, it looks like whoever put all of this together did a commendable job, with good attention to detail and a nice-looking paint job.  The body does have at least one small crack at the windshield wiper assembly, with kudos going out to the seller for a close-up photo showing it.

For a driver, the interior appears to be in decent shape, and I kind of like the instruments and dash layout.  The owner mentions that the reason it’s for sale is due to his 6-foot height, and because of that he has trouble fitting inside, plus he needs the space in his garage for another car.  Although he says it was purchased recently,  there’s no mention of exactly how long the seller has had the Cimbria, but enough time has passed for him to state that the only real issue is a clutch that needs to be lubricated.

Power comes from a 4-cylinder Pinto engine, which has been rebuilt and includes a Competition cam, custom header, and Mallory electronic ignition.  It also has new spark plugs and sits on new Pinto engine mounts.  The transmission is said to be a stock IRS VW Bug 4-Speed.  Rolling duties are provided by aluminum Center Line wheels, with 295 tires in the rear and 235 up front.

The seller discloses that he paid $14k for the car, but is asking $12k OBO (or best offer), so if this car has piqued your interest there may be room for some negotiation on the price.  What are your thoughts on this Cimbria SS kit car?


  1. Rw

    If the transaxle is built to handle,this would be fun to drive.

    Like 4
  2. Rick

    I know the guy who built this car personally. He put a ton of work into it and never had an issue. He drove it everywhere. He sold it a few years back at the Carlisle auctions. The next owner sold it to this current owner not more than 6 months ago. I do know the clutch was/is a competition clutch – I doubt it needs “lubrication”. It’s stiff from the get-go. Nothing was done to the transaction that I know of, but it never failed him either. Just don’t dump the clutch :-)

    Like 11
    • Melton Mooney

      In tight footwells, like my formula vee, short pedals are often used which makes for pretty high clutch pedal effort even with stock parts. Nothing wrong with it, but you won’t be sitting through any red lights with the pedal pushed in.

      Like 5
  3. Shawn Fox Firth

    swap in an LS4 .. .

    Like 2
    • Rick

      @Shawn Fox Firth : Because you know nothing of vintage kits, no. There is zero available space for a v8, either in a traditional setup or a longitudinal as in an LS4.

      Like 2
  4. Rw

    No Shawn with a w.

    Like 1
  5. SMS


    How did the motor swap impact the handling?

    Add 40-50 lbs of weight onto the back and you get 120-150 reliable Kent hp. Sounds like a fair trade.

    A great looking car

    Like 3
    • Rick

      @SMS – no noticeable impact. He drove this car fairly aggressively. I know there was some suspension work done, what I can’t exactly say. With the steamroller rear tires, it grips the corners pretty good :-)

  6. Brian S

    I hope nobody lubricates their clutch. That would be problematic.

    I will also never understand why people can’t be bothered to get their car out of the dark garage on a sunny day for decent photos…

    Like 7
  7. Big Len

    I thought the Cimbria had doors that lifted up and forward with the windshield as a complete section. Is that another kit car?

    • SMS

      May be the Sterling you are thinking of.

      Like 4
    • Rick

      @Big Len : That was the Sterling. Similar body shape, different cockpit. The Cimbria was a splash from the Sterling late in the mid 1970’s when Palumbo thought he could build a better car. This is a second generation Cimbria, the “SS”. The first generation cars were a lot smaller, but actually had more interior space.

      Like 1
  8. Steve Clinton

    You lost me at “Pinto powered”.

    Like 1
    • Rick

      “Four cylinder Ford” would be more appropriate. The builder had the engine built by a known race shop in the Harrisburg area. If memory serves, it’s pushing over 220hp.. more than enough for a car that weighs in under 2500 pounds.

      Like 3
  9. Gerard Frederick

    Great looking car, obviously a work of love. One must be young and agile to get in and out of it, so that rules out a ton of folks who would otherwise love to tool around in it. I find the choice of Pinto engine interesting, easy to maintain as well as to work on, even in the confined space. Good luck to both the seller and potential buyer!

    Like 1
  10. SMS

    I know the ad says Pinto engine. That name does not do the seller any favors. I like to use the Kent name. Had one in a Lotus 7 by Birkin. Really nice engine and easy to upgrade.

    Like 1
    • scottymac

      No, not a Kent, even though the 1600 Kent was available in the early Pinto. This is likely the 2.3 OHC, Lima engine (location of factory, in Ohio), if you like. Brits may have had a 1.6 Pinto for tax purposes. This was available with a turbo in Mustangs, Thunderbirds, and Merkur XR4Ti, and as a 2.5 in Ranger trucks.

      Like 1
      • SMS

        You’re right. Just looked up the Kent history. Thanks

  11. Big Len

    Thank you Rick and SMS.
    It was a Sterling that I was thinking of.

  12. Howie

    Looks nice, why not drive or push it out for better photos?

    Like 2
  13. Gordo

    Need a profile shot but in the pictures provided the snout looks overly long!

    • Melton Mooney

      If you Google it, there’s a profile pic of a red and black one with convo pros on it that’s probably the same car.

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