1970 Simca 1000

The fate of extinct marques is that fewer and fewer people care to cherish the name and burnish the heritage. 

1970 Simcy 1100
1970 Simca 1000: timeless classic or forgotten for a reason?

It depends entirely on the interest in classics magazines, the numbers made, how far back in time since the marque died and the numbers of cars made whether the cars stay in the broader motoring mind. All of this is a preamble to the fact I know even less about Simca than you do and this one is the first I have seen in the metal since last year at the same place and event.

1963-1978 Simca 1000, USA version: source
1963-1978 Simca 1000, USA version: source

Taking a look at the Simca with fresh eyes I see a neatly detailed, compact saloon which may or may not have inspired Marc Newson’s 021C car (1999). The dashboard has been fashioned in 60’s high-modern and when I think of some of Citroen’s 70s IPs and also some of their new ones I can see some vague resonances. But can you, dear readers? Another vehicle I have linked to the 021C is the little Lancia Aprilia. Perhaps Marc Newson simply channelled the same source of inspiration as the Simca and Lancia designers: a passenger cell with the minimum of space allocated to the bonnet and boot. Dial in some sharp angles for the profile and the result will have quite classic small-car proportions. The devil is in the details and the three cars differ markedly on that score.

The story of the Simca 1000 is convoluted. What I recall is that Simca and Fiat had a friendly relationship in the 50s and Fiat invited Simca to develop a Fiat proposal as their own. Another version of the story can be found here at speeddoctor, along with some nice illustrations. The bit I can add is this almost acceptable photo of the dashboard:

1970 Simca 1000 interior
1970 Simca 1000 interior

In the last twenty years we have seen the Beetle, Mini and 500 revived. We are still waiting for Citroen and Renault to exhume their 2CV and 4 respectively. I wonder if Simca had still been around whether this car would also have been a ripe candidate for the retro treatment? Or is it simply a 60s small saloon with what was then a non-controversial engine placement?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

11 thoughts on “1970 Simca 1000”

    1. Hi:
      Thanks for the reference. I didn’t know about that. It’s rather more fetching than the saloon. I’m not well placed to read up more on the car but look forward to doing so in due course. I’ll file it with the last Panhard and Lancia Fulvia Zagato as an oddball tiny coupe. Skoda’s Rapide might be directly comparable.

    2. I didn’t know about this coupé, either. Fascinating… It must have been very rare. From behind, it reminds me a bit of the Alfa Bertone coupé.

      The 1000 was not uncommon here, and although it does practically everything wrong in my eyes (engine and drive on the wrong end, wrong body style), I find it rather likeable. I remember the father of one of my uncles had one. That must have been in the early ’80s.

  1. I just looked at the pictures and remembered your comment about the devil in the details.
    The classic small-car proportions are almost there, but the front overhang is quite long and bulky. I guess this is necessary to gain at least a little boot space. Many rear-engined cars have this problem; it becomes very obvious at Renaults 8 and its extended successor, the 10, or at VW’s ‘Nasenbär’ 411.

  2. Simon, the 1000 Simca-Bert0ne is prettier but by all accounts a worse car. Can’t always have everything, alas.

  3. I was driving back from Paris sometime in the mid 70s, five up in a Citroen Dyane, hurrying to catch a ferry when I passed a brown Simca Rallye coming in the other direction. It did a U Turn in my mirrors and chased after us. I suppose the ability to outrun a heavily laden 602 cc twin is hardly testament to its abilities, but it put on a good show of speed, overhauled us and, the passenger waving some piece of card, directed us to stop. Two stocky looking guys in leather bomber jackets flashed what could have been an Intermarche loyalty card, for all that I saw, and announced themselves gruffly as ‘Police Anti-Touriste’. After a search and my moans that we would miss the ferry, we were sent on our way. It was truly only as I approached Calais that I managed to work out the mishearing that caused me to think that a special unit had been set up to harass harmless holidaymakers. Actually, they were quite scary times back then on occasions, both on mainland Europe and in the UK but, somehow, not as odiously unpredictable as they are now.

  4. An evolution of the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair, surely? The NSU Prinz certainly was almost a complete copy in the early 1960s, and the theme continued into the BMW 1600/2000. In France, the Renault R8 preceded this Simca, which seemed like a downmarket version of that car with a little less front overhang.

    My memory of the Simca involves a man driving one flat out on the autobahn to Hamburg in 1980. We eventually passed him in our Escort GT, but on the downhills he would get up to perhaps 85 mph, no doubt with the valves in full float. A very large and hairy man hunched over the wheel he was, intent on caning the car to the very limit of its capabilities. We expected it to go BANG any second. What a hoot.

    1. I’d agree about the Prinz and not agree about the BMW 1600/2000. There’s a continuum of shapes and I need to draw the line somewhere. I prefer the Simca to the R8 as it’s neater. Car designers at Tesla might well have looked at these cars to see how they treated the lack of what is endearingly called the “front grille”.
      Isn’t 1980 a curious year? While we live in a time of breathtaking change, consider that in the space of six or seven years we went from the flaired and long haired to the controlled, hard-edged look and 1980 was in the middle. In contrast we seem to glide though quickly from style to style now in a multistranded blur. I’d very much like to see Hamburg in 1980: I expect a lot of the 60s was still in evidence and the 70s were starting to look tatty.

  5. My grand-mother drove a Simca 1000 – she won it at a raffle (first prize no doubt) in the early 1960s and kept it on the road until the early 1990s…

    1. Not really. I think the only other Simca with a real following is the Rancho, but even that was re-branded Talbot in the early 80s. From my childhood I mainly remember Simca as a maker of crude, outdated cars from a different era. I’m even quite ambivalent about the 1000, even though it features quite prominently in my early car memories.

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