Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
A Performance Simca
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 87mph 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. But the Montlhery model was a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing, sedate in appearance, a four/five seater as docile as any family sedan, with a quiet engine
and good manners. It was so tame at first glance that the performance was probably overlooked by many.
The Rush Super Motor
The heart of the Simca Montlhery was the Rush Super motor, which featured five main bearings for four cylinders. It was highly conventional in layout, with a sturdy bottom end. The engine
was capable of all the revs its rear axle would allow and yet retained low-end torque to a degree you wouldn't have expected from the size. The Rush Motor was easy to start but slow to warm - which was not ideal given the finicky 32 Solex carburettor that was fitted.
Once underway the engine
would respond nicely. The four-speed gearbox was a little too low in gearing, and you would quickly find yourself in top gear. The box itself, with column lever, shifted precisely, but the throws from cog to cog were too long for really rapid action. There were other problems that hindered the enjoyment. For example, the steering
column length from dash to wheel was too long and the range of seat adjustment not long enough to get well back - so finding a good driving position was difficult.
The front passenger had to accept the leg room selected by the driver, since it was a bench it seat, but the back was split and each side could be reclined to individual taste. Dropping the driver's side back helped with the arm reach too. The backs would go clear down to make a bed, but not underway because it meant sliding the seat too far forward to drive.
Behind the Wheel
Both the seat material and the carefully calculated amount of give helped to endow them with as much lateral support as was possible in a bench seat design, and was only bettered by buckets. The thigh and small-of-the-back padding was spot on for an average person. All main controls, apart from the ignition, were grouped around the wheel hub, and all were within easy reach. The wiper switch sat on one side with a button for the horn opposite it. The Montlhery was fitted with both city and country horns and both were attention-getters. A third lever on top of the steering
hub worked the blinkers, which cancelled themselves after a pre- determined time. Opposite the shift lever Simca fitted a stalk to handle the lights, which included one-sided parking lights deemed necessary in France to high-low beam. It was so good that many manufacturers started mimicking the design.
In front of the driver was a single instrument cluster, dominated by a half-moon speedo
. There was also a fuel gauge, but the rest of the information had to come from a selection of lights, which strangely did not include oil pressure. The Rush Super engine
was undeniably sturdy, but the lack of a warning light for low oil seems to have been one of those cost-cutting measures that did little to impress a potential buyer. The remaining controls, in the centre of the dash, included a heater/demister. The trim supported the "special" nature of the Montlhery, usually being in a very good quality two tone, with leatherette accents. The headlining was also washable and light. The general feel was airy, aided by good glass area front, rear and sides. The front mudguards were easily seen by the driver.
The parallel-action wipers nearly cleared the entire windshield, but left the passenger looking past theirs which parked almost vertically. Small storage in the car was catered to by a lidded glove-box and a map pocket forward of one front door. Larger luggage would fit in the reasonable boot, which had a rubber floor-mat and only two slight projections to mar the shape. Tools like the lug wrench and jack were clipped to the sides of the motor compartment, leaving the boot for luggage. Up front there is no provision for locking the bonnet, since its catch was completely controlled from outside the car. This lid and the boot cover were counter-balanced to stay up by themselves even in a stiff breeze. The four doors had catches to keep them open, too. Under the bonnet the motor was set well down, but all the parts that might have needed a service were easy to reach. The battery
was located right back of the radiator and high, to remind you of service. It also received a maximum of cool air there. The brake fluid reservoir was transparent for spot checks as well.
On the Road
With 62 horses working for you, it was comforting to know that the 14 inch wheels allowed plenty of brake area and there was no reason not to throw the car around. It would stop straight and evenly after any sort of normal use. Fade was minimal. Basically the Simca had mild understeer, but most drivers would have found it neutral for all practical purposes. You had to push it really hard to evoke unhappy corners. Despite a very comfortable ride for its class, the car had only moderate lean in the tight bends - the kind of tilt that bystanders probably noticed more than the driver. Brake dip was minor. It was possible to promote rear-wheel hop when throwing the Montlhery around sharp corners with poor surfaces, but, again, this was the sort of thing more likely to bother race drivers than the average owner.
As good as the Rush Super motor was, Simca made no pretence to race-car potential. What they were offering with the Montlhery was a reasonably roomy family sedan with more than enough handling to keep you safe, fairly timeless styling, plenty of room for children and luggage - and better performance that, particularly at a time when Australia was almost entirely covered by single lane highways, gave extra push and added another safety factor.