Thursday, April 2, 2009

1970 Simca 1204 - A Survivor on eBay

This was Simca's last gasp in the US. It didn't save them.

The 1100 range, which the 1204 was part of, was successful for awhile in Europe. It was one of the first 5 door hatchback sedans, which were (and are) quite popular in Europe, but not in the US.

I'm writing about this car not because it was a great car or some sort of milestone car, but because it still exists.

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. By the time this one was built, Simca was owned by Chrysler and within a few years would be sold to Peugeot, who eventually discontinued the brand. Over the years Simca offered front engined RWD cars, rear engined cars, and this, a FWD car. The US car buying public was not impressed by any of them.

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, ones that were probably a bit too advanced for the US at the time. Peugeots were comfortable, well thought out cars, but their decision in the 70s 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 (good or bad) for anything in the US and, for the most part, is forgotten.

The Simca 1204 was a cheap car, with a sticker price of under $2000.00. They were "throw away" cars and most wound up in junkyards as soon as they needed any major work or had outlived their usefulness. Somehow the car being offered on eBay wound up not in a junkyard, but in an airplane hangar in California and is in amazingly good condition today. (Interestingly, this one has Simca's optional air conditioning, which I'm pretty certain made it a rare car even when it was new.)

Like so many of the other cars I've written about, there is no logical reason to buy and restore this car. The reality is that whatever you spend on buying and restoring this car will probably be more than the car is worth. Restoring this car is strictly a labor of love. It deserves that just for surviving this long.

Click here to see the eBay listing for this car.

There is a Simca car club in the US and, with any luck at all, they'll be able to help you source parts for this car. Click here for its website.


Jason >> IL, USA said...

You're right, I'd forgotten all about Simca.

Didn't Abarth do some work with them at some point?

Just A Car Geek said...

Hey Jason - Yes Abarth did some work with Simca in the 1950s. The high water marks of that partnetship were the 1300 and 2000 cars.

Mark Trent said...

I don't remember these cars. It looks like a cross between a Fiat and a Renault 12.

Anonymous said...

A Simca, a classic AMX, a rare Alfa all on the same page. This is one weird site! I like it. Keep up the good work!

Matt Cotton said...

Historically speaking, the Simca 1100 (including this US-Spec 1204) were the worlds first transverse-engined FWD hatchback car. Launched in 1967. It took the rest of the world YEARS to catch up, and the Japanese didn't catch up for decades! It's no wonder the Simca 1100 sold over 2.5 million before they were discontinued in 1986!

Unknown said...

My SIMCA , was gold/ black interior/ 4 dr/ hatch/ 5 speed/a.c./ sun roof , hand cranked] stereo, am fm only was nice,a/c was a drag on the engine but was overly cold, as is said in the south "you could hang meat in there." I am thinking was a 1970 /71?? Twas 1973 I was only 19 year , traded my fathers 1963 Chevrolet Implala 4dr and the dealer financed bout $750. Had to trade soon , tho was low miles, exhaust system burned thru and local and Birmingham, Alabama, police did like that loud 4 banger !!! Brake pads were not being imported , so my younger brother , found some ; close and modified them to fit. I think was 4 wheel disc system, If perfect set up ;; would last forever if not you ate up disc brake pads. This was in gas crisis time,,I think. MPG out the roof, I lived in Alabama City,Alabama,USA, drove to Birmingham 6 days a week , Saved on gas , 140 miles a day. Parts not available , caused me to trade with the Dodge Dealer, where I got it, for 1967; Dodge Monaco, 2dr Hard Top, Monaco 500!!! No MPG. super fast and a Beauty . A/C was weaker , tho aint that strange, yall ? lps= love peace security.