The cars we loved.
When I see rap videos, I’m always amused by the bad taste bestowed on otherwise perfectly good examples of ’70s and ’80s automotive iron. Often the most hard-core performers with smaller worldviews tend to prefer the baroque styled products of GM and Ford from ages past. I tend to see the same four or five old cars in every video, as if the ’80s had no ready-made from the factory examples of bad or excessive taste. A car that should have been included in the rapper’s old car portfolio is the Zimmer Motors Quicksilver. Depending on who you asked, it was the pinnical of American ’80s luxury style for better or for worse.
The Quicksilver embodied all of what was good (and bad) about American luxury cars from a styling perspective. The Syracuse, NY based Zimmer Motors was well-known mostly for its (hideous) “neo-classic” Golden Spirit, a car you would see in an occasional rap video. The companies other car, the Quicksilver was decidedly more modern and subduded. Designed by a former GM stylist, traces of Cadillac and Oldsmobile influence could be seen in long (engineless) hood, stout greenhouse and heavy chrome bumpers. From some angles, especially the front, the Quicksilver had all the panache of a Aston Martin Lagonda. Only the view from the side revealed a little car trying to look big.
Despite looking vaguely familiar, the Quicksilver was not a kit car, but was actually based on real production bits that came mostly from the Pontiac Fiero. Built in Florida, it carried over all of the Fiero’s mechanical traits like it’s mid-engined design and 2.8 L V6. The Fiero’s A and B pillars were almost unaltered, down to the rear window treatment. Although the Quicksilver looked big due to its imposing hood, it was not much longer than a mid-sized GM car of the period and weighed under 3,000 lbs.
The GM connection meant that Zimmer did not have to crash or emissions test its cars because in this case, Pontiac had already done the dirty work for the Fiero. It also meant fort consumers that they could get their Quicksilver serviced at Pontiac dealership (companies flagship car, the Golden Ace was Mustang Based and enjoyed a similar service agreement). The agreement extended to warranties for the various GM components, making the Quicksilver something of a domesticated exotic. Performance was anything but exotic with a 0 to 60 time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 121 mph. With the available four speed automatic transmission,
highway fuel economy was firmly in the mid 20’s.
At more than $50,000, the Quicksilver had a steep asking price for what amounted to a 140hp Fiero cover. To Zimmers credit, the low production numbers allowed many personal touches that made the Quicksilver more appealing than any Fiero (on the inside at least). Luxury features like blurled walnut in the dash and console and black suede lined interior roof exemplified the high-end of baroque style American luxury. Quite a few notable celebrities thought so too like Hulk Hogan, Sly Stallone, Frank Sinatra and Liberace. Although these influential people represented extremes of good and bad taste, their influence was not enough to lift the Quicksilver out of the shadow of the more hideous looking (and popular) Golden Spirit. For all its attempts to alter the Fiero interior, the door panels looked almost the same and the same basic low tunnel dweller seating position persisted.
The Quicksilver was only sold for a few years. Each of the limited build of 50 to 170 or so cars a year was accounted for. The parent companies financial woes and the firm’s leader’s death forced new ownership, just as the Fiero had reached the end of the line. The final year of the Quicksilver should have benefited from the improvements made to the Fiero’s double wishbone front suspension, but it would be too late for both cars. Had a car like the Quicksilver been around during today’s age of media saturation, more than one rapper would have danced around its outlandish lines. Suddenly Impalas and Monte Carlos with 20′ chrome rims look tame by comparison.