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.
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).
Chrysler 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.