Simca Aronde Elysee
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
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.
In October 1957
, two new versions joined the Aronde range: the Océane, a two-door convertible, and Plein Ciel, a hardtop coupé, both with bodies by Facel. The wagon ("Commerciale") and van ("Messagère") remained available, with a 45 PS (33 kW) version of the 1.3 litre "Flash" engine. They received the 90K modelcode.
In January of the same year, the 500,000th Aronde was made, and the cars were now exported even to the USA. An Aronde Elysee was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956
and was recorded as having a top speed of 82.6 mph (132.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 23.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.6 miles per imperial gallon (8.67 litres/100 km; 27.1 mpg-US) was recorded.
The test car cost £915 including taxes on the UK market. In 1960
they also tested one of the Montlhéry models. This had a slightly higher top speed of 83.6 mph (134.5 km/h), faster acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.6 seconds and a better fuel consumption of 35.0 miles per imperial gallon (8.07 litres/100 km; 29.1 mpg-US). The test car cost £896 including taxes on the UK market.
The Aronde Elysee in Australia
The 90A Aronde Elysee was produced in Australia from 1956
by Northern Star Engineering which, along with Continental and General Distributors, had been contracted to assemble the model from CKD kits, using local content. In July 1959
, Chrysler Australia
announced that future production of the Aronde would be undertaken at its factories in Adelaide.
For a Continental car of the 1950s the Simca was somewhat conservative in having a front engine driving through a rear axle, and having independent suspension
of the front wheels only. However there was nothing conservative about the Simca on the touring highway. The car cornered exceptionally well and possessed exceptional cornering ability on par with that normally associated with front-drive cars of the era.
was pleasant, the brakes
were good and generally road-holding was well above average. This all added up to a car which, for its size, was relatively easy to punt hard. The Simca’s engine operated on a very low compression ratio, yet still bettered 40 miles per gallon at a fast cruising speed. There were a few points about the Simca which were capable of improvement – even when judged against the 1950s competition. For example, the clutch and brake pedals were too close, and were unnecessarily high above the floor. The suspension
of the Simca was deliberately firm, to give good roadholding at speed.
This exacted its penalty on really bad roads, where the car became somewhat "bouncy," at least with a load of 3cwt. The front seat of the Aronde 90A was redesigned from that used on the 9 Aronde
, and incorporated two individual squabs, each fully adjustable for any inclination between the vertical and horizontal positions. The adjustment control was excellently made, and consisted of a rack and trigger in a neat circular housing, one on each side of each squab. Instant and precise adjustment of squab inclination was the result.
The engine was a particularly good one and worked very happily, especially at high speeds. Bore and stroke were 74 by 75 mm (square engine), and on the low compression ratio of 6.8 to 1, specific power output was satisfactory at 37 bhp per litre. An oil-bath cleaned the air fed to the Solex carburettor. Front suspension
was by coils and wishbones, damped by an anti-roll bar
and telescopic shock absorbers. Rear suspension
was by semi-elliptic springs
, with telescopic dampers. The chassis had 14 lubricating points for attention every 1,000 miles.
On the Road
The Aronde 90A climbed exceptionally well in top gear, in view of its engine size. When a lower gear was required, third was available. The Simca carried a reasonably high top gear, which yielded a road speed of 15.8 mph at an engine speed of 1000 rpm. The power-to-weight ratio, with a load of 3cwt., was moderate at 45.7 bhp per laden ton. The Simca would cruise comfortably around 65 mph and its good road-holding and steering
qualities allowed it to maintain a high average speed in mountainous country. It was capable of ambling along in top gear at 30 mph below which third gear was required for a prompt response. The car would, however, pull away smoothly from 20 mph on full throttle.
The car could be described as “lively” in acceleration, when judged against cars from its class of the time. Obviously below 30 mph it was necessary to use the gearbox in order to obtain good pick-up. The maximum pulling power, a torque of 65 lbs-ft. was not developed until the rather high speed of 44 mph was reached in top gear. This meant that the car retained its acceleration well into the touring speed range. Prompt overtaking required third gear between 20 and 30 mph, over which speed top gear would suffice. The times for acceleration from 20 to 40 mph were third gear, 7.3 seconds; top gear. 11.9 seconds. Acceleration from 30 to 50 mph in top gear required only 11.3 seconds.
The cam and double roller steering
mechanism was most pleasant, being both quick and positive. Whilst 3.5 turns were required from lock-to-lock, the turning circle was particularly small at 31.5 feet, so that the steering
was sufficiently rapid in action to permit high cruising speeds on winding roads. Whilst some reaction was felt in the hands on rough surfaces, it was not sufficient to cause any concern. The Simca Aronde’s roadholding was definitely above average, and it provided very satisfactory performance when touring fast. Cornering was particularly good, and on dry bitumen roads it was difficult to induce a slide of any sort. Roll and tyre
squeal were less than usual. The suspension
was firm, with the result that the car sat down on the road in pleasing fashion at high speed.
It was evident that the front end had been stiffened to achieve this result – probably more so that those found in France – which meant that the car would bounce somewhat on rough or stony country roads. But unlike the Aronde 9, the newer model was difficult to cause the front end to bottom. The Lockheed hydraulic brakes
were quite big, and had a healthy lining area of 131 square inches. As a consequence, pedal pressures were moderate and there was very little fade on long descents. However, there was a noticeable un-evenness in the front brakes
when you were pushing the limits.
Behind the Wheel
The two-spoked wheel was nicely raked and was comfortably placed. The driver's window required 3.5 turns of its lever for full movement. The clutch and brake pedals had large rubber pads, but were, as mentioned, a little too close together and they could be nearer to the floor without technical difficulty. The driver's vision was about average and it was not assisted by screen pillars which were wider than usual. The column gearshift was lightly spring-loaded to the third-fourth position, which was that remote from the wheel. If the lever was somewhat too far forward, this position is alleviated by the bent end with which it is formed. The synchromesh was quite good and the gearshift was positive, particularly in changes "across-the gate." The gear ratios were: top 4.4, third 6.5 and second gear 10.6 to 1.
The instruments comprised speedometer
and gauges for fuel and oil pressure
, all grouped in a large circular binnacle before the driver. Warning lights were provided for generator, turn indicators and petrol reserve, the latter being a well ahead of its time flashing warning light that became more rapid as this reserve was used. A windscreen-washer, giving two diverging jets from a central turret, was standard equipment. Projecting from the steering
column head were controls for the lamps and for dipping, for the wipers, and for the selection of one or two horns, and a half-ring for actuating the horns. The electric screen wipers were self-parking. It was necessary to lean forward to reach the handbrake – but that was not uncommon for cars from this time. There was a safety circle provided in the toughened glass windscreen before the driver.
The front bench seat had a width of 37in, and the rear seat width of 51 in was reduced to 38in at the rear by the intruding wheel arches. The gearbox hump in the front floor was less pronounced than usual, but the tunnel across the rear floor was about average. Synthetic covering was used for the seats, a rubber mat was provided for the front floor, and a carpet for the rear floor. Head-lining was of washable plastic. The interior of the car was not particularly spacious, and leg and head room were sufficient, not generous. An effective, if somewhat noisy, heating and ventilating system was provided, which supplied ample quantities of either hot or cold air to the front floor, and demisting apertures. The air was propelled either by ram or fan pressure. Additionally, ventilating panels were provided in the front windows.
Storage space consisted of two small glove-boxes before the passenger and a wide shelf behind the rear seat. The boot had plenty of capacity, accepting approximately 13 cubic feet of luggage. It had a flat floor, with the spare wheel stowed beneath, and it was lit through the upward-opening boot lid by means of the tail-light. Access was good to all of the engine ancillaries, with the possible exception of the oil filter, which was positioned well down on the engine and which required a special spanner for its removal. The petrol filter was also of the screen type which was difficult to clean.
The Simca Aronde Elysee was a very satisfactory car of medium size, the salient characteristics of which were lively performance and pleasant handling
qualities. Whilst the Simca was not designed as a sports car, it certainly had sporting potentialities for those owners who wished to drive it hard. On the other hand it was docile enough for more restrained owners – which we feel would have been in the majority. The Simca climbed particularly well. It has a top speed well above average for its size, and yet it was extremely economical of fuel. Good roadholding was obtained somewhat at the expense of riding comfort at low speeds.
A compensating factor was freedom from bottoming on rough roads. It was a good all-purpose four-seater for those that wanted something a little different, and offered robust construction and was at home as much in the country as the city. As mentioned at the start of this article, the Simca provided very good fuel consumption of around 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Taking the loaded weight into consideration, this was equivalent to 41.5 ton-miles per gallon, and gave a fuel-speed factor (ton-m.p.g. x average speed) of 1,750. At this rate of fuel consumption, the tank would have provided a cruising range of approximately 350 miles.
In late 1959 the P60 was introduced, selling alongside the 90A well into 1960
, and a five-door P60 station wagon was introduced in late 1961
. The wagon, which was unique to Australia, was based on the four-door sedan and featured an extended roof-line and a tail-gate fitted with a wind-down window. Australian production of the Aronde ceased in 1964
. The P60 Aronde saloons, presented in September 1958
, had an all-new, modern-looking body
. The estate was also updated with the new front end (with a resemblance to the 1957 Ford Thunderbird), but retained the earlier rear.
A new coupé joined the range - the Monaco - while a new, inexpensive version of the Elysée, powered by a 1090cc engine, was added under the name Étoile. A new engine, the famous Rush 1.3 litre unit with a five-bearing crankshaft, was fitted to the Arondes beginning from October 1960
. A 70 hp version of the engine, called Rush Super, debuted in September 1961
in two models - the Montlhéry Spéciale saloon and Monaco Spéciale coupé.