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.