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Zimmerman,1907-1914 – A Flashy Flash in the Pan

  • A 1911-12 Zimmerman Model 40 roadster

One of the more obscure makes we’ve come across, the rather handsome cars featured here today in one way represent hundreds of other makes that came and went in a relatively short time in the pre-war era. Starting out in Spencerville, Indiana in 1874 as a manufacturer of windmills and horse-drawn vehicles, the Zimmerman brothers, Frank and Elias, moved the company to Auburn in the 1880’s. Beginning in 1907, they produced a solid tire high wheeler, but rapidly moved on to more conventional four and six cylinder cars in the ensuing years.

  • L to R – A 1911 Zimmerman Model “Z” Touring Car – An ad with some curious, catchy wording – A 55 horsepower 1913-14 “Zimmerman Six” with a very rakish cowl design.

From 1911 onward, the company did not maintain it’s own production facility, but instead contracted with the Auburn Automobile Company to build their cars under both the Zimmerman and De Soto names. After Frank died in 1910, Elias, then aged 80, retired from the business. Evidently, the company had continued building horse-drawn conveyances concurrent with their automobiles and did so until 1918, even after car production ceased. Zimmerman appears to be a rare case of an enterprise going from horse-drawn vehicles into motorcar production and then back to buggy building before fading away. You’ll find many more pages about the earliest days of motoring and Auburns on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of Alden Jewel.

11 responses to “Zimmerman,1907-1914 – A Flashy Flash in the Pan

  1. It’s nice to see some examples of the Zimmerman cars after 1910. They seem to be quite rare. The question is of course what was specific Zimmerman on these cars. The car itself could be easily mistaken for an Auburn, though the 1913 Six has some minor differences. Or were the Zimmermans just looking (like the Studebaker brothers) for new opportunities to apply their body building skills to?

    • I am hoping you get notifications from this board! Your conversation was so long ago- I live in the Franklin T. Zimmerman house in Auburn. I am always looking for info on the family/autos and I have never known anyone who owned one of the cars! Do you still? Are you still restoring?

      • I bought a 1909 Model H Zimmerman two and a half years ago. I would like all of the information that I can find on the cars and history of the company and family. I have visited Auburn several times, and a year ago we had our annual Mitchell Club meeting at the ACD Museum.

  2. My father’s cousin was a Zimmerman as well as either his mother or grandmother. I grew up in Amherst ,Ohio where the whole family went back to the 1880’s. Another cousin that was a contemporary of my Father found the connection to the Zimmerman family and car in Auburn. It was nice to see a picture of one of the autos.

  3. What were the Zimmerman engines like in the very beginning. Seems to me they adapted an engine to one of their buggys or did they manufacture the buggy for the engine

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