Note: The following is just a repeat of the text in the above module in case images aren't functioning.


The Cimbria (and its derivatives), 1975-ish to early '90s -- At some point in the mid to late '70s, a beautifully executed, well-engineered, gull-wing derivative of the Sterling emerged on the market from a company called Amore Cars located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This unsanctioned redesign, called the Cimbria, was the creative work of Joe Palumbo, a car enthusiast and entrepreneur (who still has a web presence at -- as of 2008 -- featuring a new, high end, exotic hybrid sports car). The original production run for the Cimbria probably started in 1976. (In our archive is a brochure for the Cimbria, post-marked in '77, with a price list that states "effective 11-75." Nobody knows the exact dates.) Sometime in 1978, the Cimbria SS was introduced, representing an ever-so-slightly more refined version of the original. Production of the SS ran until approximately 1982 during which time about 500 Cimbrias were made. Other subsequent minor variants of this car included the Nereia and the Bernardi (Canada).


(Origin of the Cimbria, continued...) -- The actual origin of the Cimbria is a matter of some debate and controversy. Without any doubt, the Cimbria is ultimately a derivative of the Sterling (and therefore the Nova). The debate is whether it was based directly on a Sterling or, rather, on an early Sebring, which was the other major unsanctioned Sterling variant. The Cimbria had a few design features that superficially resembled changes seen on Sebrings, too (though comparison of designs reveals many large differences as well). But postmarks on original factory materials confirm that the Cimbria was actually introduced several years before the original series Sebring. As such, it seems definite that both variants (the Cimbria and the Sebring), were separately developed from the Sterling and subsequently co-evolved. The Cimbria did not come from a Sebring. Adding to the confusion, the brochure for the original-run Cimbria proudly states that it "was conceived in 1970...," which I find amusing considering it's obviously based on the Nova, and the Nova hadn't been invented yet. In any event, the Cimbria was beautifully executed.


The Cimbria (original model), 1975-78(?) -- As with most of the spin-offs of the Sterling and Nova, the original version of the Cimbria was essentially a rolling, functioning, marketable, prototype. Subsequent versions of the car were directed at refining that basic re-design. But even the first model of the Cimbria represented a tastefully restyled car, most notably featuring exotic gull-wing doors instead of the very dramatic lifting canopy of the Sterling. Other changes from the Sterling included the addition of a stylish front bumper, reworked rear clip and taillights, and moderately altered accents in the hood, wheel wells, interior, and side scoops. But to the Cimbria's credit, the lines of the parent car could still be easily seen. The first run of the Cimbria was designed almost exclusively for the VW beetle chassis (as compared to the Cimbria SS which offered the option of a custom chassis and larger power plant). The models had modest differences in other details as well, especially regarding the design of the doors and rear hatch.


(Original Cimbria, continued...) Although several significant (and spot-able) differences exist between the Original Cimbria and the SS, the one feature that'll tell you proof-positive of the model is the design of the doors. The original run of the Cimbria had doors that were shorter and were hinged much closer to the edge of the roof than the SS which had taller doors which hinged near center. (Note from the photos that the door doesn't extend very low into the side, leaving a substantial "sill" that the driver must craw over.) Other features of the original Cimbria include, 1) a split-glass rear hatch / engine cover similar to the DeTomaso Mangusta, 2) pop-up headlights, 3) a single, deep side scoop mounted mid height behind the door (rather than the dual, high-and-low scoops on the Sterling, and 4) a hood that is more level / less dished from fender to fender (to favor placement of radiators if a water-cooled engine is chosen). The Cimbria was a solid, tastefully styled variant which quickly gained popularity and began its own evolution.


The Cimbria SS, 1978-82 -- Building on the favorable response to the first-run Cimbria, Amore Cars soon developed the Cimbria SS which was meant in all aspects to be a more refined and versatile version of the original. The car was now cleverly tweaked to offer greater structural rigidity, plus a more comfortable and impressive interior, plus an easier conversion to bigger power plants and the opportunity for a more "finished" look than many kits could achieve -- including high-quality seats, digital gauges, and interior packages from the factory. The Cimbria SS was marketed with a slick, attractive, expensive-looking literature package that promoted the car's features, giving an initial impression on par with brochures from major manufacturers rather than just the relatively small kit car company it actually was from. As such, the car was well-built, well-styled, and well-promoted. For all of the above reasons, the Cimbria SS became known as a sexy, exotic-looking, high quality spin-off of the already popular much so that it even began to capture the attention of enthusiasts overseas. (See Eagle SS.)


(Cimbria SS, continued...) Outwardly, the SS retained the same basic styling and configuration as the first-run cars, but it added significant improvements including 1) integral fiberglass floor boards (for increased rigidity, ease-of-build, and increased headroom), 2) further refined hood accents including the option of a smooth hood vs one with a zone of attractive, rear-facing louvers for radiator ventilation, and 3) further refined rear and taillight accents. The car looked very "real." Also previously alluded to, the SS had redesigned doors that were cut lower in to the side sill and hinged closer to the midline of the roof to aid in ingress and egress (and also presenting a very reliable way to differentiate an original Cimbria from an SS (see photos).) Early versions of the SS retained the split-glass rear hatch whereas later versions had an open deck design to improve ventilation to the engine compartment. Also, the SS offered semi-custom chassis options which allowed for a variety of engines. The end result was a car that was affordable but which arguably pushed slightly further into true sportscardom than a "stock" Sterling or Nova.


The Eagle SS, 1981-98 -- By the end of the '70s, the vast majority of Sterlings in existence had already been made, and production of the original Novas had long since ceased (though the Nova Mk2 was now in production and was becoming even more prolific than the original). In the US, the popular Sterling spin-off known as the Cimbria had come into existence and had evolved into the Cimbria SS. Back in the UK, a car enthusiast named Tim Dutton (who owned a kit car manufacturing business, Dutton Cars) reportedly made a trip to the US to determine whether any of the American kits were 'worthy' of bringing to the UK market. Tim became aware of the Cimbria SS and apparently liked the design. Many negotiations later, he acquired the rights to produce a subtle variant of the SS in the UK, calling it the Eagle SS (and manufacturing it under a new company name, Eagle Cars.) Like the SS in the States, the Eagle SS was stunning, well made, and almost instantly successful. For lovers of irony: This "foreign," un-official derivative of the Nova had circled its way back into the UK market as a successful venture in its own right.


(Eagle SS, continued...) Serving essentially as the UK version of the Cimbria SS, the Eagle SS greatly resembled its sister car from the US. Subtle differences included 1) minor technical changes to switch it to right hand drive and to utilize more readily available hardware, 2) subtle restyling of the hood details and also the engine cover, 3) alteration of the side scoops (with the addition of "out-y" style side scoops as an option), and 4) modification of rear panel to accept taillights that were more readily available in the UK.••• But perhaps the most notable change for the Eagle SS were its headlights: instead of the rectangular pop-ups of the Cimbria, Eagle Cars decided to use the exotic-looking, round, rear-folding headlights that were being used on the Porsche 928 at the time. The Eagle SS was thus a formerly-American-based- Nova/Sterling-spin-off that had now been given its own unique face in the UK(!) Interestingly, later versions of the Eagle SS were offered in a front-engine configuration based on a custom chassis and Ford Cortina running gear. These later variant are easily spotted by the odd, conspicuous bulge in their hood.


Viper 2000, '84 to '85? -- The eventual Cimbria SS variant known as the Viper 2000 represents a fascinating commentary on the evolution and/or extinction of a particular kit car line. By 1984, the Cimbria SS had been around for several years and had already gone through multiple rounds of moderate refinements and forays into performance upgrades, including various chassis and engine options. But the tragic flaws that remained (as with many kits) were that 1) you can only get so much refinement out of a car offered as a kit, and 2) you can only get so much performance gains out of the problematically-imbalanced rear engine configuration. At best, the big engine Cimbrias were cool-looking-but-barely-controllable missiles that were only good in straight line acceleration. The natural next step in the evolution of the line was therefore to 1) address the performance deficits by building the car on a fully custom, well-balanced chassis that had modern brakes and suspension at all four corners, and to 2) address the "refinement" deficits by offering the vehicle ONLY as a turn-key entity. The result, for better or worse, was the very expensive "Viper 2000."


(Viper 2000, continued...) To distinguish this new variant from is outwardly extremely similar sister car (the Cimbria SS), the name Viper 2000 was given and the car was produced by a splinter company called Advanced Automotive Technologies formed (Gary Minor, Nelson Boone Jr. and the father of the Cimbria variant, Joe Palumbo). The Viper was an immaculately refined, true supercar that was factory hand-crafted and assembled to the buyers specifications. It theoretically offered big engines on well-balanced chassis and boasted performance numbers to rival even modern supercars, including an alleged 0-60 time under 4 seconds. The problem was that all of this custom fabrication work and factory assembly pushed the price of the car above $60,000 which, in mid-80s dollars, made it even more expensive than the DeLorean, Porsche Carrera, and super 'Vette of the day. As such, it was an awesome car that got some flattering press, but it had grown too expensive. Extremely few were sold. ••• One of the beautiful aspects of a kit car is that it allows the common person to own something extraordinary. In the Viper, this was lost.


Nereia, 1991 to '95-ish -- At some point around 1985, production of the Cimbria SS (and Viper 2000) ceased. For about six years, no new bodies were made and no replacement parts were available. In 1991, a company called Nereia Yachts (in North Carolina) bought the molds and the rights to produce the Cimbria and began marketing the 'new' car under the name Nereia. The company had an established track record for producing high quality fiberglass parts for boat hulls and replacement panels for Corvettes and, as such, had no trouble offering quality replacement parts for existing owners plus new bodies for any potential new buyers. Unfortunately, the kit car market of the '90s was teaming with a variety of enticing Lambo, Ferrari, and Cobra replicas, and it was increasingly difficult for this beautiful-yet-aging design to compete. The Nereia like the SS before it was well built and undeniably exotic. But due to the above factors, total production for the Nereia was probably less than 10. Interestingly, the Nereia still had a web site as of 2008, but it was dormant for MANY years, and the owner is thought to have passed away.


(Nereia, continued...) Based on a comparison of old brochures (including even the layout of the brochures themselves), the Nereia seems to be a virtually identical copy of the Cimbria SS. Like the SS, it was offered in either a basic kit -- which included all the critical main parts plus some of the tricky assemblies like door hardware -- or a deluxe kit, which added some well-executed interior features like leather seats, an exotic wood dash, and VDO gauges. Also like the SS, the Nereia could accept either a VW floor pan and drive train OR a custom chassis with GM underpinnings with a choice of engines. If the builder chose to stick with the good old VW configuration, Nereia Yachts had an option for a custom-fabricated "VW" pan that offered increased rigidity and better headroom. ••• In total, if nothing else, the Nereia kept the lineage of the Cimbria alive for a few more years. It is unclear whether the company still exists and/or whether the molds were destroyed. However... ...a cool quirk of kit cars is that, as long as you have just one body to copy, new molds aren't far off! (The windshield is a different matter, though. A Sterling windshield can possibly be used, but not without modifications.)


Bernardi, mid 1980s -- Representing a small-yet-significant branch of the Cimbria limb of the overall family tree is the Bernardi, a Canadian variant of the Cimbria SS. Although its Cimbria heritage is absolutely undeniable to the eye, some debate exists as to the exact origin of the Bernardi. By one count, apparently, official molds of the Cimbria SS were once sold to a company in Canada with the intent of producing the car in that country. But it is unclear if any cars were ever produced from those molds. Around this same time (at some point during the mid '80s), a company called Fortvac Automobiles in Quebec began offering a car known as the Bernardi. Although not mentioning the Cimbria by name, their company brochure boasts a long process of "redesigning an existing body" in which the basic lines of (obviously) the Cimbria SS were preserved, but the car's wheel base and width were stretched a little and extensive ground effects were added. Also -- virtually unheard of in the kit car realm -- the company actually put the car through all of the rigors of official safety testing and gained the Canadian DOT's seal of approval.


(Bernardi, continued...) The resulting car was essentially a Cimbria SS on steroids, not too much different in form or philosophy from the 'Viper 2000' variant that was attempted during about the same time frame back in the States. Also superficially similar to the Viper 2000, the Bernardi was based on a well-tuned custom chassis that deftly utilized massive V8 power plants to launch the car along with true supercar prowess. The car was gorgeous, meticulously detailed inside and out, and distinctly un-kitcar-ish in its finish and performance. And for better or worse, it in fact wasn't a kit car; as previously mentioned, Fortvac actually jumped trough all of the hoops to meet all necessary federal regulations to produce the cars as a fully factory built vehicle. While this was an undeniably impressive undertaking that resulted in a wonderfully refined sports car, it also had the effect of once again generating a variant that was so pricey as to be far out of the financial reach of the regular guy (and yet still fell short, as a car, from the other expensive exotics available). As such, the Bernardi was another variant that priced itself out of existence.