Custom Miata honors the Swiss-bodied ’57 Lotus you never knew existed
Perhaps our last homebrew sports car didn’t quite spin your crank? The ’60s sci-fi vibes aren’t for everyone, but now we’re presented with a custom sports car paying homage to an obscure, Ghia-Aigle-bodied ’57 Lotus, with the proven performance and reliability of the Mazda Miata underneath. Meet the 2018 Simpson Swift, made by Jim Simpson. Are you not intrigued?
Carrosserie Ghia-Aigle was originally formed as a subsidiary of Ghia in 1948, but though it became an independent shop in ’53, the tiny Swiss outfit was overshadowed by its Italian counterpart. Even if only because of the Ghia connection, Ghia-Aigle boasted some big names, including Pietro Frua and Giovanni Michelotti. The latter penned the exotic, roofless body worn by a 1957 Lotus 11 at the 1957 Geneva auto show, honored here in this Simpson Swift. (Michelotti also supervised a hardtop version.)
The tidy roadster is essentially comprised of the two subframes from NB Mazda Miata donor car bolted up to a unique steel chassis wearing a fiberglass body. Period-correct wire wheels and a reproduction C1 Corvette windscreen atop the fiberglass give the Simpson Swift a sincere reverence to the original Swiss-bodied Lotus, making it clear that Jim Simpson is quite the gifted craftsman.
Rear styling is also honest to the original, as crash protection was neither a concern then or now. The rear license-plate lights and retro cloisonné emblems do a fantastic job hiding the modern(ish) performance offered by the NB Miata driveline.
Aside from the airbag-deleted steering column behind the Nardi wheel and the Miata’s comparatively modern gauge cluster, the Swift’s interior looks straight out of the past. The lack of complementary upholstery/finishing on the doors is unfortunate, however, especially for those living in less-than-ideal climates.
No disappointments lie under the hood, as the Miata’s legendary engineering is manifested in a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that’s stood the test of time. The same can be said for everything else plucked from the 2002 Miata donor car.
Perhaps no photo better personifies the difference between modern engineering and handmade craftsmanship than one taken when inspecting the Swift from the underside. This likely took a lot of time and money to get right.
If you like what you see, perhaps the fact that the Simpson Swift is currently for sale on Bring a Trailer might force you to take further action? If so, bidding is currently at $7500 with six days to go. With so many great items comprising what is a truly unique vehicle, watching the hammer drop on this well-built Swift will certainly be enlightening.