Frenchman Henri-Theodore Pigozzi had been importing Fiat’s for a time, and realised it would be even more lucrative to produce the Italian cars under license for the French market, thus in 1934 La Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile, or simply Simca for short. It would become an overnight success by building the Fiat 500 Topolino and 508 as the Cinq and Huit respectively.
By 1938 the Nanterre facility (on the Seine) was building some 20,000 cars per year. Following the war the company would resume production of the Cinq and Huit, then in 1951 the company would manufacture their very own iteration, the Aronde. The new car would become an overnight success, it soon being exported and garnering a stellar reputation for quality and reliability. Following the success of the Aronde, the company set about designing and manufacturing other genuine French iterations, while also expanding its operations.
Unic was bought in 1951, then Ford’s French operation was purchased three years later, greatly adding to the production capacity. In 1959 Simca acquired Talbot, but by then Chrysler had obtained a 15% stake in Simca as it grew its European manufacturing base (the British Rootes concern was also in Chrysler’s sights).
By 1963Chrysler held a majority share, at a time when their small 1000 and more modern 1100 and 1301/1501 models would ride the crest of unappalled popularity. By the early 1970’s Chrysler owned 100% of the company, but financial difficulties in the US would see the company sell of its foreign subsidiaries, Simca being sold to Peugeot-Citroën in 1978. Simca would be renamed Talbot, but even that name would be dropped a few years later.
1951 - 1955
The first Aronde debuted in the spring of 1951 but initially only a few hundred pre-production cars were distributed to carefully selected "guinea-pig" buyers, and the full production version was finalised only in time for the Paris Motor Show, becoming available for sale in October 1951. More>>
The second-generation Aronde debuted in October 1955. Externally it had an updated 9 Aronde body, with restyled front and rear ends. More importantly, the new Aronde was powered by the 1290cc Flash engine. New trim levels, marketed as Elysée and Montlhéry (named after the Autodrome de Montlhéry) appeared. More>>
When launched, the Simca Montlhery was the hottest four-cylinder model Simca made. The engine was good for 62 hp at 5200 rpm, 74 ft/lbs of torque at 2500 rpm, 48 hp/litre, and an 87 mph top speed. Simca named the Montlhery after the banked oval outside Paris, where one of these cars ran to post a bagful of endurance marks. More>>
1962 - 1978
The Simca 1000 was an immediate success when it was launched at the 1961 Paris Salon, winning a huge allegiance of fans and enjoying a wonderfully long production run of 16 years, in which time some 1.6 million would be made. More>>
1962 - 1971
The outside was a true high-point of Bertone's Italian art, with grace, vision, maturity and beauty. There were wrap-around bumpers front and rear and the back was quite as neat as the front, a rare feature in a coupe from the era. Inside, the dash was simply finished too, but they didn't skimp on a single thing you might have needed. More>>
1963 - 1975
When the 1300 was released, Simca insisted that it was an addition to the line, and not a replacement for the Aronde. With the 1300, Simca managed to build around the healthy five-bearing 1300 engine a body with more space and much more modern styling, with good attention to detail. More>>
1963 - 1975
The Simca 1500 was a strictly conventional model with a sedan body which adhered faithfully to then current styling conventions, but managed to achieve a certain distinction through purity of line and absence of non-functional ornamentation. It also made for far more luggage space, with only minor annoyance from the rear wheel wells. More>>
1967 - 1982
Following on from the success of the Simca 1000, the 1100 would provide Simca with the perfect platform to allow export sales. The result of "Project 928", design of the 1100 had stated back in 1962 under the watchful eyes of engineers Philippe Grundeler and Charles Scales, being first shown at the Paris Auto Show in 1967. More>>
1975 - 1979
The Simca 1307 was launched in July 1975. A modern, front-wheel drive hatchback, it was one of the first such cars in that class, along with the Volkswagen Passat, and became the 1976 European Car of the Year. It was a classic front-drive, medium-sized, five-door hatchback family saloon. More>>