The Bremen Sebring Kit Car: Lambo Style and Beetle Pedigree
Are vintage kit cars starting to actually be worth something?
The huge number of fantastical concept cars being produced in the 1970s and '80s gave rise to a strong kit-car industry in the same years, and the Bremen Sebring was said to be one of the better-produced kits of the period. The Sebring was created by Al Hildebrand, a U.S. distributor of various fringe cars that included the Brazilian Puma GT, who thought he could produce an improved version of the Sterling kit he was selling. It's thought that fewer than 1,500 Sterlings and Sebrings were ever built, but this 1985 Bremen Sebring is headed to Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale auction today and is being sold without a reserve price.
The Sterling began life in the early 1970s as the English-designed Nova, a wedge-shaped, compact sports coupe that was designed to be installed on a Volkswagen Beetle floor plan. In the U.S., the Nova name had obviously long been registered by General Motors and so the car's name was revised to Sterling, then to Sebring by Hildebrand. The powertrain was all air-cooled VW as well and while it wasn't necessarily anything unique, the little flat-four motors had tremendous aftermarket support, as they still do today, meaning gaining a little horsepower was a fairly simple and cost-effective task.
Hildebrand's improvements over the Sterling included then-popular pop-up headlights, a revised nose and roof, and more substantial bumpers. Some of the latest cars were said to be converted to American V-6 power, but those are more difficult to find today with fewer made. One of the more interesting features of the car is the doorless design, as it instead features an aircraft-style, one-piece overhead canopy that opens to allow ingress. The side pipes on this car are a custom job not usually seen on a Sebring, largely because the engine is of course rear-mounted. This car also features a Type 4 VW motor, which is larger in size than previous VW air-cooled engines and was also used in the Porsche 914, which was marketed as a VW-Porsche in Europe. These engines, with factory displacement ranging from 1.7 to 2.0 liters, typically make between 65 and 100 horsepower in stock trim, though many are modified for greater power. Its overall exterior aesthetic is of a more exotic Bricklin, or perhaps an alternate-reality exotic from, say, Lamborghini.
The last Bremen Sebring we saw sell in the U.S. was at Barrett-Jackson's 2019 Las Vegas auction, where the late entertainer Wladziu Valentino Liberace's (most commonly known by Liberace alone) 1983 example sold for $11,000. That car boasted the rare GM 3.8-liter V-6 option and an electrically operated roof. What's this 1985 Bremen Sebring worth? We'll find out shortly.