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Simca

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Defunct
Simca was a French automaker and marque, founded in 1934 by Henri Théodore Pigozzi (1898-1964). Simca was originally affiliated with Fiat, but later, after a period of independence, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group, in 1970 becoming a part of Chrysler Europe and a brand rather than independent company. In 1978, Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA, which replaced the Simca brand with Talbot, thus ending the life of the brand (although some models were badged as Simca-Talbots for a time).

During most of its post-war activity Simca was one of the biggest automobile manufacturers and most popular automobile brands in France. The Simca 1100 was for some time the best-selling car in France, while the Simca 1307 and Simca Horizon won the coveted European Car of the Year titles in 1976 and 1978, respectively. Simca vehicles were also manufactured by Simca do Brasil in Brazil and Barreiros (another Chrysler subsidiary) in Spain, and also assembled in Chile, Colombia and the Netherlands <ref>[1]</ref> during the Chrysler era.

The beginnings

The founder of Simca, Henri Théodore Pigozzi (born Teodoro Enrico Pigozzi) was active in the automotive business in the early 1920s when he met Fiat founder, Giovanni Agnelli. They began business together in 1922 with Pigozzi acting as a scrap merchant, buying old automobile bodies and sending them to Fiat for recycling.<ref name=Beaulieu>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Two years later Pigozzi became Fiat's General Agent in France, and in 1926 SAFAF (Société Anonyme Français des Automobiles Fiat) was founded. In 1928, SAFAF started the assembly of Fiat cars in Suresnes near Paris, and licensed the production of some parts to local suppliers. By 1934, as many as 30,000 Fiat cars were sold by SAFAF.<ref name="histomobile">Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

SIMCA

The SIMCA (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile) company was founded in 1935 when Henri Pigozzi bought the former Donnet factory in the French town of Nanterre.<ref name=Beaulieu/> The first cars produced were Fiat Balillas and Arditas but carried Simca-Fiat 6CV and 11CV badges. This was followed in 1936 by the Simca Cinq or 5CV a version of the Fiat Topolino and in 1937 by the Huit or 8CV version of the Fiat 1100. Production of the 6CV and 11CV stopped in 1937 leaving the 5CV and the 8CV in production until the outbreak of World War II. Despite France's being occupied during the war, Simca cars continued to be produced in small numbers throughout the conflict.

With peace, production resumed in 1946 with the pre-war Cinq (5CV) and Huit (8CV) but a new car arrived in 1948 with the Simca Six with overhead valve 570 cc engine ahead of the equivalent Fiat.

The Aronde and Ford SAF takeover

The Simca Aronde, launched in 1951, was the first true Simca car as opposed to a Fiat design. It had a 1200 cc engine and its production reached 100,000 units yearly. Following this success, Simca took over the French truck manufacturers Unic in 1951, and Saurer in 1956, the Poissy plant of Ford SAF in 1954 and in 1958 it bought the Talbot brand. With the Ford purchase came the Ford designed V-8 powered Vedette range which continued to be made but with Simca badges and various names until 1962 in France and 1967 in Brazil. An Aronde powered version was also made in 1957 and called the Ariane which because of its economy combined with a large body was popular as a taxi.

Chrysler gains control

In 1958 the American car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation, which wanted to enter the European car market, bought 15% of the Simca stocks and further increased their holding and gained full control in 1963.<ref name=Beaulieu/> Also, in 1964 Chrysler bought the British manufacturer Rootes thus putting together the basis of Chrysler Europe.<ref name=Beaulieu/> All the Simca models manufactured after 1967 had the Chrysler pentastar logo as well as Simca badging. In 1961 Simca started to manufacture all of its models in the ex-Ford SAF factory in Poissy and sold the factory at Nanterre to Citroën. The rear-engined Simca 1000 was introduced in 1961 with its sporting offspring, the Simca-Abarth in 1963. The 1000 also served as the platform for the 1000 Coupe, a handsome sports coupe sporting a Bertone-designed body by Giorgetto Giugiaro and 4-wheel disc brakes. It debutted in 1963 and was described by Car Magazine as "the world's neatest small coupe". 1967 saw the more powerful 1200S Bertone Coupe that, with a horsepower upgrade in 1970, could reach the dizzying speed of almost 112 mph (180 km/h), making it the fastest standard production Simca ever built.<ref>http://www.simcatalbotclub.org/scoupe.htm</ref> In 1967 a much more up to date car, the 1100, appeared with front wheel drive and independent suspension all round, and continued in production until 1979. On 1st July 1970 the company title was formally changed to Chrysler France.

The collapse of Chrysler Europe

The most successful pre-Chrysler Simca models were the Aronde, the Simca 1000 and the front engined 1100 compact car. During the late 1970s Chrysler era, Simca produced the new 160/180 saloon, 1307 range (Chrysler Alpine in the UK) and later the Horizon (Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon in the USA), both of which were European Car of the Year on their launch. However, Chrysler's forced marriage of Simca and Rootes was not a happy one, and Chrysler Europe collapsed in 1977 and the remains were sold to Peugeot the following year. The Rootes models were quickly killed off, and the Simca-based Alpine/1307 and Horizon soldiered on through the first half of the 1980s using the resurrected Talbot badge. The last car to carry the Simca badge was the 1980 Solara, a 1307 with a boot, but in 1981 this had become a Talbot.

Afterlife

Peugeot eventually grew tired of the Talbot brand, and the last Simca design was launched as Peugeot 309 (instead of Talbot Arizona as had been originally planned), and this was the end of this French brand. The Peugeot 309 used Simca engines until October 1991 when they were replaced by PSA's own TU and XU series of engines. The 309 was produced at the former Rootes factory in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, UK as well as in the Poissy plant.

Simcas can still be seen on the road in several European countries and were also manufactured in Brazil, Spain and Finland.

In popular culture

  • The Spanish parody group Los Inhumanos released a popular party song titled Qué difícil es hacer el amor en un Simca 1000 ("How difficult it is to make love in a Simca 1000").
  • Les Chevaliers du Fiel French parody duo released a song titled Je te prendrai nue dans la Simca 1000.
  • The French singer Alain Souchon composes in 2005 a song that evocates a "Simca rouillée".
  • One of Brazilian rock group Camisa de Vênus greatest commercial hits is a song called "Simca Chambord".
  • In the classic Brazilian TV Series Vigilante Rodoviário, the main character, Inspector Carlos, drives a 1959 Simca Chambord. The series was so popular in the 60s that the actor who played the main character regularly appears in classic car owners meetings with the same car used in the series.
  • The protagonists of the 1964 film "Band of Outsiders" by Jean-Luc Godard drive a Simca convertible.
  • Michael Palin confirms in his 1969-1979 diaries that he purchased a new Simca in 1970.

Models

Simca 1000 Rallye 1

References

See Also

Template:Simca

External links