Friday, April 18, 2014

An Immaculate 1964 Simca 1000

Simca was a French company that, along with other French companies - Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen - introduced their cars to the US back in the 1950s. In the 1960s it was purchased by Chrysler and would later be sold to Peugeot, who eventually discontinued the brand. Over the years, Simca offered front engined RWD cars, FWD cars and rear engined cars.

The French never figured out how to crack the US market, but those of us who are car geeks remember most of the brands... Citroens were oddly styled, but incredibly well engineered cars. They were probably a bit too advanced for the US at the time. Peugeots were comfortable, well thought out cars, but their decision in the 1970s to push diesel cars in the US (initially using a pretty lousy diesel engine) was a huge mistake that cost them dearly. Compared to Citroen and Peugeot, Renault managed to sell quite a few cars in the US, but they always seemed to somehow snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory... Simca though, has no real reputation for anything (good or bad) in the US and, for the most part, is forgotten.

The 1000 was Simca's first rear-engined car. It has its roots in a Fiat project. The very short version of the story goes something like this... Simca’s President, Henri Pigozzi, was born in Turin and was a friend of Fiat’s founder, Giovanni Agnelli and his family. In the late 1950s, Fiat was considering an upmarket version of the 600 and set about designing a 2 door and 4 door car. Pigozzi had been planning a small Simca and, during a visit to Fiat’s Development Department, realized that the 4 door car ("Project 122") would be ideal. Because of his close relationship with the Agnelli family (and Fiat's stake in the Simca company), Pigozzi was allowed to choose one of six Fiat designs. After the design was chosen, Simca's chief stylist, Marion Revello de Beaumont, spent the next two years working with Fiat’s Felice Mario Boano, developing the Simca 1000.

The 1000 was launched in 1961. It was immediately popular. It stayed in production until 1978. Over 2 million were sold.

The eBay listing for this car has few details. The seller says it has a new interior, engine and brakes. It is supposedly a rust free Arizona car that "goes down the road like new." Based on the pictures, it looks to be in excellent condition.

The seller is calling this a "micro car." That's a relative term, I guess. Compared to the land yachts coming from Detroit in the 1960s, it's a tiny car. But, it's far bigger than the BMW Isetta or the Messerschmitt KR200, which I consider true micro cars. In the US the 1000 was a direct competitor - in size, performance, price and economy - to the VW Beetle, Renault Dauphine / 8 / 10 cars, and the Fiat 850.

There are very few of these cars left in the US. Parts are not easy to come by here, but with over 2 million having been built, parts can still be found in Europe. If you're looking for an unusual car to drive on the weekends and bring to car shows, this 1000 is worth checking out.

Located in Deltona, FL, click here to see the eBay listing.

2 comments:

Matt Cotton said...

Rick did a great job restoring this car out of three. It's the twin to mine, but I drive mine all the time, so it is no where near as pretty as this one!

David Dietz said...

Very nice example! Probably the nicest in the U.S. I helped him acquire parts, and I am very aware of the detail he has gone through getting this car to this condition.