OTTUMWA — Ron Bloom knows what’s going to happen when he stops to put gas in his car. He’s going to get looks. Some people may stare. Then, gradually, people are going to want a close-up look at his 1983 Zimmer Golden Spirit.
When you think about a car from the 1980s, what usually comes to mind are cars with sharp lines and angles. There’s the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” and KITT from “Knight Rider.” Zimmer Motorcar Corporation took a different approach.
The Golden Spirit looks like something out of a different era. A long front hood, whitewall tires and chrome horns mean the appearance owes more to the Gilded Age than the Reagan years. And that look is a big part of why Bloom bought it.
Bloom remembers the first time he saw a Zimmer. He saw one driving down the street one day and did exactly the same double-take he sees so often from behind the wheel. He wanted a closer look. It didn’t happen. The car disappeared on him.
“By the time I got turned around he was gone,” Bloom said. “I had no idea what it was or where it came from.”
Then, a few years later, Bloom was looking around online and came across a Zimmer for sale in San Jose, California. That’s not exactly next door to Tucson, Arizona, where Bloom lives. But he was interested enough to take a good, close look.
The car he found was in beautiful condition. The owner had become wheelchair-bound and planned to put in hand controls to drive. He never got around to it, though, so it spent the better part of 20 years in a garage.
Sitting like that isn’t a good thing. Bloom said the owner’s wife took care of the car, though, heading out once a week to get it running and drive it a little bit. Over those 20 years, she put on 65 miles by mostly driving around the block.
By the time Bloom saw it, the car had 11,400 miles on the odometer. Bloom’s decision was made.
“I went out there and looked at it, and I drove it home,” he said.
Zimmer made about 1,800 of the cars, Bloom said. His is number 593. It’s built on a Ford Mustang chassis and drivetrain, and Bloom said parts for repairs are a lot easier to come by than you might expect.
So what is Bloom doing in Ottumwa on a rainy Thursday? Getting a Canteen and some Graham’s ice cream, of course.
Bloom’s sister is Dr. Marthana Newland. Her husband, Dr. Byron Newland, brought Bloom by the Courier to show off the car. “About every three, four years or so he comes and visits,” Newland said.
And he gets a lot of looks along the way.