The Italian styling concern Zagato is famous for classics such as the Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo Zagatos. There are Ferraris and Maseratis with a Zagato body, and there is the Zimp.
Zagato saw possibilities on the British market for a car with Hillman Imp mechanicals and an aluminium bodyshell, styled the Italian way. They intented to produce them, with the blessing of Rootes, in Britain (thus avoiding import duties) and a Dorchester based company was formed, early autumn 1964, headed by Peter Thomas and Anthony Charles: British Zagato Ltd. in Kingston-on-Thames.
Peter Thomas bought two Imps from a dealer in Oxfordshire. Peter and his wife drove these to the Zagato design studio in Milan. The studio was already working on another Hillman Imp Deluxe, which had been bought second hand in the U.K. The cars were transformed into Zimps in just nine months, so Zagato could exhibit its Zimp on the 1964 Earl's Court Motor Show.
What Zagato was famous for was making their versions of the body shells a good lot lower and lighter. The Zimp weighs 630 kg. It's height is 128 cm. (The Imp has 138 cm.). This and the better streamline means an increase in top speed to about 140 kph.
British Zagato Ltd. were planning to tune the Imp engine from 39 hp. to 46 hp.
When Chrysler heard about the co-operation between Rootes and Zagato they used their 50% holding in the company to block the project. So, to the advantage of the later upmarket Imps, only the three prototypes were produced.