Buy the Great Gatsby’s Town Car

Car & Classic

On a scale of one to ten, with one being “never leaving the house” and ten being “Freddie Mercury on stage at Wembley in 1984 with 70,000 people wrapped around his little finger,” how much does this 2002 Zimmer Golden Spirit stand out from the crowd?

We’re pitching for at least a seven or eight; it’s difficult to imagine the car show, wedding, book signing, or funeral for a wildly flamboyant celebrity at which you’d not be the center of attention.

If that sounds a bit like you, then the Zimmer going to auction soon via Car and Classic might be of interest.

If, to your mind, this looks like an early-2000s Lincoln Town Car that stepped into a time machine with some DNA from a 1930s Duesenberg and emerged, like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, as a disquieting mixture of both, your eyes are not deceiving you.

The Zimmer Motor Cars Corporation existed between 1980 and 1989, transforming contemporary cars into neo-classics: new cars whose designs took cues from vehicles of the pre-WWI era. The original Golden Spirit was Zimmer’s flagship and was based on the ’80s Ford Mustang, while the Zimmer Quicksilver was a more aesthetically pleasing (but still very, very odd) retro reimagining of Pontiac’s mid-engine sports car, the Fiero.

2002 Zimmer Golden Spirit front
Car & Classic

Zimmer closed in 1989 with its parent company making huge losses, but was revived in 1997 by Art Zimmer—amazingly, no relation to company founder Paul Zimmer—who continued building neo-classic vehicles under the Zimmer name until 2020.

That probably means this 1920s and 1930s revival style has persisted longer than the actual period that inspired it, though the look is so ornamental we’re not sure it has ever really “fit in,” even during that early-2000s period where slightly less retro styling made its revival in cars like the Beetle, Mini, and Mustang.

2002 Zimmer Golden Spirit side profile
Car & Classic

Its presence is enhanced—if that’s the right word—by an upright grille, headlight pods, prominent front wings, spare wheel carriers, and an enormous chromed bumper at the front, while the rear, still mostly recognizable as Lincoln’s, gives you another spare wheel, another chrome bumper, and a great many lights.

Some details, like the Mercedes 540K–style chrome exhaust pipes emerging from the engine bay, are entirely ornamental. The engine bay from which those sprout houses the Town Car’s standard 4.6-liter V-8, sending its power to the rear wheels through a four-speed, column-shift automatic transmission. It’s built for lazy torque, not speed—you don’t even get a rev counter in the largely standard Lincoln cabin.

Zimmer, it has to be said, is far from the only company to have gone down this 1930s throwback route in the late 20th and early 21st century. Fans of Japanese metal will be familiar with Mitsuoka, which, perhaps influenced as much by Zimmer as any pre-war cars, launched a car called the Le Seyde in 1990.

This was based on rather sportier underpinnings than the Golden Spirit was; it cribbed a platform from the Nissan Silvia S13 a form of which came stateside in the 240SX. More recently, Mitsuoka reprised the style again, this time hewing closer to cars like the Morgan Aero 8, with the MX-5-based Himiko. Mitsuoka’s work wasn’t half-baked: like Zimmer, it had to lengthen each car’s wheelbase to replicate those early-20th-century proportions.

Finding such cars isn’t the work of a moment, which makes the appearance of this Zimmer a rare opportunity for the right person. It’s actually been in the UK since 2009 and has had only one owner here since. Ford parts should make it relatively straightforward to maintain, and with little over 29,000 miles on the clock, it has a potentially long—and most definitely flamboyant—life ahead of it too.

The auction for the Zimmer opens on March 14, and if The Beast is already getting a little too rich for your tastes, there’s little else you could buy right now that’s likely to attract more glances.

2002 Zimmer Golden Spirit rear three quarter town car lincoln
Car & Classic


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Via Hagerty UK

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    Flamboyant preacher car maybe…like Rev. Ike in NYC. (“The root of all evil isn’t the love of money; it’s the LACK of money”) Still, it would be fun to show off! This preacher would drive it – once maybe.

    I think it’s beautiful. If you love the new Corvettes and their curves and crevaces,
    then you should like this.

    We owned a 1983 Golden Spirit. Yes, you do arrive in style. Granted the 2 door model had better proportions but with a few tweaks, this unit could look more correct visually. It needs larger wheels and tires with coresponding openings. Get rid of the horizontal molding on the doors. Viola!

    It’s hard to believe that a real company would do this….on purpose. In an era where so many cars come with no spare tire, this one needs 3? (or 4 if the trunk one is still mounted). Maybe it’s for the poor road conditions in outer Bravalstavia, where the Prime Minister special ordered this one. Please, send it back.

    They didn’t go far enough. Should have cut the roof off the front seat so your driver get soaked and is cold like the good old days. This thing is hideous.

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