Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

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Lot 291

1948 Vauxhall-Zimmerli 18-6 Roadster

  • Chassis no. LIP 1454
  • Engine no. LP 2622
  • Body no. 0001

Sold for $71,500

Please note that this lot is titled as a 1949.

54 bhp, 2,275 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, torsion bar independent front suspension, live rear axle with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase 86.6 in.

  • Unique one-off Anglo-Swiss sports special
  • Fresh comprehensive restoration
  • Consistent award winner

The aftermath of World War II provided an opportunity for industries and craftspeople recently released from defense work. The expanding consumer economy, particularly the demand for new cars, portended potential profits in automobiles, which many erstwhile aviation machinery people sought to capitalize upon. American examples are the Kurtis/Muntz Jet, secondary vehicles like the Keller and Towne Shopper and, lest we forget, the amazing Tucker. Things were less rosy in Europe, but in some places optimism reined, especially Switzerland, which had escaped widespread destruction.

Werner and Fritz Zimmerli held Chevrolet and Vauxhall franchises in Reiden, Switzerland. New cars, however, were in short supply, particularly since the country had no native auto industry. It was Fritz’s son, Fritz Jr., an apprentice with the family firm Gebrüder Zimmerli (Zimmerli Brothers), who suggested the creation of a two-seat sports car based on Vauxhall mechanics.

Basis for the car was the drivetrain from a Vauxhall Velox, a six-cylinder car that debuted in August 1948. Power came from a 2,275-cubic centimeter overhead valve engine that developed 54 brake horsepower. The transmission was a three-speed, column-shifted Vauxhall item. A live rear axle with high-speed gears was used. The Zimmerlis manufactured their own chassis frame, constructed of steel tubes, and adapted the Vauxhall independent front suspension, a Dubonnet-style affair that used torsion bars in addition to the usual Dubonnet oil-filled shock absorbers. The body, emulating the emerging streamline sports car idiom, was built of aluminum by the Zimmerlis’ panel beater Enrico Basetti. Steel was used on the doors for greater rigidity. Reminiscent of Allard and OSCA, the grille blends with the free-flowing body lines.

The car was completed some time in 1950, and until 1968 it remained in the Zimmerlis’ Reiden showroom. From there it went to Swiss collector Zavier Heller before moving to the United States around 2000. When acquired by the current owner in 2008, it was original, except for a repaint, but quite tired. A hands-on collector, he undertook much of the work himself, enlisting outside help for body, paint, and upholstery. The body was removed, stripped, and all its contours carefully conformed. The car had been repainted in black; careful examination unearthed a chip of the original maroon, to which the paint was matched. The tan upholstery was done by an experienced craftswoman who essentially brought her shop to the car, working in the owner’s garage until it was finished. A matching canvas top is fitted; its shape is a bit unusual, but it folds down behind the seats on an ingenious scissor mechanism that dispenses with the awkward need to remove and stow many sports car tops. Accompanied by a complete tool kit, the car is titled as a 1949 Vauxhall, but its chassis number establishes that the car began life in the autumn of 1948. Since restoration, it has taken class and special awards at Keels and Wheels in Houston, Meadow Brook Hall, Boca Raton, Lake Mirror, Winter Park, Ault Park, Keenland, and Hilton Head. It was also a winner at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Truly unique, it is unmatched in the world today.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more