British and European Car Spotters Guide - 1962

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1962 British and European Car Spotters Guide


French Cars of 1962



There was perhaps no more a decade than the 1960’s when the term “Typically French” was true. They specialized in the field of lightweight utilities - the Citroen 2 c.v., the Renault R3 and R4 – yet the French car, very broadly speaking, was no different from any other. Some betrayed great originality in design, whereas others were stolidly conventional. Some had a world-wide reputation for their excellent handling qualities and their rugged build. Others handled less well than they should and were perhaps less substantial than the European average. There had been abortive attempts in the UK to produce small utility vehicles, but none of these was clever enough in design or sufficiently developed, or backed by a large enough organization to succeed.

It was generally believed at the time, and with some justification, that the British public would never flock to buy anything so ugly and austere as a Renault R4 or a Citroen 2 c.v. – even if it bore the name Austin or Ford, and sold at a low price without import duty. As in Italy, by 1962 there were still no signs that the French popular car manufacturers were going to follow the U.S. and British leads in offering fully automatic transmissions as alternatives. The nearest approach was the power change with automatic clutch of the Citroen DS. Following the demise of the Simca V8s, no French cars were offered with independent overdrive.

The French Babies



While in its native country there was an undiminished demand for the little four-door Citroen 2 c.v., it had not been available in the U.K. since the two-door plastic Bijou coupe was introduced. This was a valiant attempt to make the 2 c.v. more acceptable to British buyers, yet Bijous were so rarely encountered on British roads that the formula clearly had a narrow appeal. However, in 1961 its price was reduced substantially, and on top of this the lower purchase tax now then in force brought it down from £599 to £493 (including tax) - £3 less than the standard BMC Minis, and only £6 more than the basic Ford Popular. At that price the Bijou was a much better proposition for anyone with a soft spot for Citroens and a predilection for exceptional comfort and low running costs. But it was not for speed merchants, a top speed peaking at around 50 mph - in 3rd or top gears - but its overall consumption was practically 50 m.p.g.

The Bijou had a horizontally opposed two-cylinder engine, air-cooled, which drove the front wheels through a four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. The elegant coupe body sat on the standard 2 c.v. platform, with its strange, interacting suspension system, which provided a very soft ride, together with such long wheel movements that very rough country could be traversed. You had to attack really bad going with some discretion, as the little car was prone to dig its nose in. At the Paris Show in 1961 Renault showed their direct challenge to the 2 c.v., called the R3 or R4 according to its engine size. In the UK only the R4 was marketed. Like the French 2 c.v., it had a full four-seater body with four doors, front-wheel-drive and a very soft, cross-country suspension system; but it was very different in respect of its engine and transmission.

The R4 had the o.h.v. water-cooled four-cylinder unit which powered its rear-engined predecessor and the gearbox was a legacy from the 4 c.v., having only three widely spaced gears and no synchromesh for first - an extraordinary omission for a car planned to sell in hundreds of thousands to people with only a rudimentary driving ability. Moreover, the fact that it had only three gears meant that first had to be used more frequently than would be the case with four. The Renault 4L (de luxe) lacked the driving traction of the Citroen, which meant that the latter might keep going where the Renault would stick, and on its relatively high first gear it only just restarted on a 1-in-4 slope. When cornered vigorously its inner front wheel could easily lift clear of the road and spin, while the car was not so stable directionally as the Citroen.

However, it could be driven extraordinarily fast over a deeply potholed surface which would bring the Citroen down to a walking pace. It gave an exceptionally level ride on any surface and its seating was as comfortable as contemporary and similarly priced car from the era. Yet the backrests were wafer thin, so that those in the back had plenty of legroom. Not a cubic inch of space was wasted. In contrast to a Morris Mini, for example, the Renault's control layout was complex and untidy to a degree. You could not climb into an R4 and drive it away without some preliminary cockpit drill. Once learned, the somewhat involved heating and ventilation system was unusually effective in both hot and cold weather. On the open road the Renault 4L could be wound up to a heady 54 mph. as a mean maximum and its overall consumption was 38 m.p.g. Unfortunately it had to be fed with premium fuel, whereas the Citroen ran happily on the cheap.

Next Size Up



In this category the French industry was well provided - the Citroen Ami 6, the Simca 1000, the Renault Dauphine and Floride, and the Panhard PL.17. There were also two specialist sports cars, the DB based on Panhard components and the Alpine which was largely Renault. Although perched on the same wheelbase and track, and in many other respects similar to the 2 c.v., the Ami 6 was no relation to that car - or to any other - in appearance and was much more fully equipped. The factory liked buyers to regard it as a minor edition of the DS or ID but this was somewhat hard to swallow. Like the 2 c.v., it had a flat-twin engine, but of 602 c.c. instead of 425, and interacting suspension.

The bigger engine developed 22 bhp as compared with 13.5, thus the Ami 6 could reach nearly 70 mph and cruise indefinitely at 60-65 mph in the most untiring manner where the going was easy; on give-and-take roads you needed to spend a lot of time in 3rd gear because the engine was not at all flexible - below about 35-40 mph in the high top it became quite rough. Road testers of the day found overall fuel consumption to be around 44 mpg on regular grades. This car was well equipped for interior heating and ventilation, and the facia layout was tidy, if unorthodox. As with the 2 c.v. and Renault R4L, its gear lever was the pull-and-twist type, set in the middle of the facia.

The Renault Dauphine



Its bench seats were trimmed in Victorian-looking patterned cloth, and were arguably the softest in the industry at the time, moulding themselves to whatever shape required and providing restful travel. The unconventional rectangular headlamps were less effective than the round variety, so that was a case of French style over substance - something rare in those days as the French were normally so good at creating form AND function. By 1962 there were three versions of the 845cc Renault Dauphine, each with the same four-door saloon body. These were the standard Dauphine, the Gordini and the Gordirii de luxe. The standard Dauphine had only about three-quarters of the Gordini's engine power and a three-speed gearbox, but four speeds were optional. None of the Renault boxes had synchromesh on first.

Some of you may be old enough to remember that the Dauphine engine was an in-line four-cylinder of 845cc., water-cooled. It was at the back of the car in unit with the transmission, and drove through independent swing axles. As a four-seater the Dauphine could be a little tricky to handle when travelling light, because of the preponderance of weight at the back and the positive camber of the wheels in that condition. Unlike more conventional cars, it handled better and better the more you loaded it.

The Renault Floride



At the Geneva Show in March of 1962, a new type of Renault Floride was presented. Its engine capacity has been increased to 956 cc., giving 51 bhp at 5,500 rpm, the newer unit having five main bearings. Among other innovations, the radiator was put right at the back of the engine compartment instead of behind the back seat. The rear swing axles received extra fore-and-aft location from radius arms running forward to rubber-bushed anchorages near the chassis centre-line. The Floride was the first small French car to have disc brakes all round, these being made by Lockheed. In closed form it seated four and was known as the Caravelle. There was also a convertible and hard top two-seaters called Speciales. All three were very well equipped for the standards of the day.

The Panhard PL. 17



By comparison, the Panhard PL. 17 formula was ambitious - a high-efficiency flat-twin engine of 848cc pulling a four-door saloon which could hold six at a tight pinch, and behind this a luggage boot of almost unbelievable volume for so compact a car. But the Panhard was not really at home outside the French domestic market, being somewhat noisy and fussy to drive except on long, straight roads. On these it could bowl along happily all day at 70-80 mph. This suited it very well, of course, for France's main Autoroutes and Routes Nationales - but not so for other countries. The formula would have been easier to justify had the small hard-working engine returned an exceptionally low fuel consumption, but the overall figure was 28.7 mph.

While there were a few criticisms of the Panhard PL. 17, there was no doubting that it handled better than previous Panhards, and was also notable for first-rate suspension, the damping in particular being admirably matched. The standard PL.17 was a better proposition for most buyers than the Tiger, having more power at low engine speeds; and being significantly cheaper. A striking convertible style was put into limited production in 1962, but was only made with left-hand drive.

The Simca 1000



The Simca 1000 made its debut in 1962, as a direct rival to the Dauphine. Like the Dauphine, it had its engine and transmission concentrated at the back, and the capacity of the four-cylinder unit, 944 cc., lined up with that of the then new Florides. At the 1962 Geneva motorshow an attractive sports coupe style was added to the Simca 1000 range, with a more highly developed engine, which was in direct competition with these bigger Renaults. Neither the Alpine nor the DB were marketed in the U.K. The Alpine, which carried smart coupe and convertible bodies of moulded plastic, could be ordered from the factory with engines of 747, 845, 904 and 997 cc. Claimed power outputs for these extended from 48 to 68 gross bhp.

The largest engine was mated to a five-speed gearbox, and the makers claimed a maximum speed of 115 mph. Like the Renaults, from which they were derived, all the Alpines had their engines at the back, whereas the DB Panhards works were concentrated at the front. The only production DB was the Le Mans convertible, available with various stages of engine tune and equipment - Racing, Luxe and Grand Luxe. Alternative cylinder capacities are 848 and 954 c.c., and the power outputs extend from 40 to 70 net bhp

The Happy French Mediums



By 1962 the Simca V8s have been dropped, and almost all French cars except the little 1000 mentioned above were powered by the familiar four-cylinder 1,290 c.c. engine, which in 1960 received two more main bearings to make it smoother and more robust. An alternative 1,090 c.c. unit was available in France only. There was a large variety of types - saloons with two and four doors, an estate/wagon, two-door coupes and convertibles. In addition the French could buy the Ariane Miramas which had a larger body to hold six at a pinch. Power outputs extended from the Aronde Etoile's 52 bhp gross to 70 bhp for the Montihery saloon and Monaco hardtop. For the sporting motorist there was the dashing Plein Ciel and Oceane hardtop and convertible two-seaters.

The Montlhery had a power output of 60 bhp, a mean top speed of 82 mph, and fuel consumption of 29.3 mpg. Simcas from this era were completely conventional in design, robustly made, and enjoyable to drive. They were trimmed rather jazzily for some tastes, and the quality of the detail fittings was not seem quite in keeping with their known mechanical worth. Yet even with import duty the fast Montlhery costs no more to purchase in the UK that a Singer Vogue.

The Brilliant Peugeot 403



One of the more expensive of the medium sized French cars was the Peugeot 403. But the extra asking price bought you a solid family car, able to carry five if need be, although it wasn't quite as fast (on paper) as some of the other 1500s. But on the straight it could be held indefinitely at or near its maximum speed, and on twisty roads its handling and road-holding and wonderfully precise steering made for exceptionally high average speeds. Although the engine had only three main bearings it was so smooth that few could put hand on heart and claim that it needed any more. Like the rest of the car, it would not start to rattle after 100,000 miles - something that could not be said of many other makes of car from this time.

The Peugeot 403B estate car had a longer wheelbase than the saloon and half-elliptic rear springs in place of coils. The front seats collapsed into beds creating a not-all-that-comfortable overnighter that was at least better than sleeping on the ground on a rainy night. For its modest engine capacity the Peugeot 403 Wagon was a huge vehicle, yet could exceed 80 mph. Most road testers from the time made special praise for its excellent handling whatever the load carried, and for sure-footed security on slippery roads. A family version of this had fixed and folding seats to carry up to eight. For any of the 403 range there was an efficient diesel engine as a more costly but cheaper-to-run alternative.

The Peugeot 404



A later design, the Peugeot 404 had a larger engine (1,618 c.c.), steeply inclined from the vertical to permit a low bonnet line. Except for its front suspension, which was the strut-type closely akin to that on Fords, it did no have much in common with the 403. But it was quieter, nearly 10 mph. faster, and had a larger window area. In France 404s were trimmed in bright, comfortable cloth of excellent quality; those exported were instead finished in a rather depressing plastic trim out of keeping with their character and price. Two more specialized versions were a luxury saloon with leather trim and a two-seat convertible by Pininfarina.

Flaunting Convention - The Citroen DS



Flaunting convention in more respects than any other production car, the Citroen DS received some significent innovations in the body during the 1961 and 1962 model years, once again setting a precedent for others to follow. Added was window demisting, not only for the windows in the front doors, but also for the back window. In fact, the rear passengers had their own independent heating system. A pity that something was not done at the same time about increasing the area swept by the screenwipers. Both the DS and cheaper, simpler Citroen ID were wonderful cars for long-distance touring in great comfort. They were just as roomy and level-riding in the back as the front, and had huge luggage boots despite very little overhang.

Self-levelling pneumatic suspension was, of course, a special feature. Very high-geared and therefore really economical on petrol, they could go nearly as fast in third as top, but the four-cylinder engine lacked refinement. A five-bearing crankshaft, as fitted to some 1962 model Simcas, Renaults and the Facellia, would have improved this; and many believed with some justification that six or more cylinders would have made a better match for the rest of its character. The DS could comfortably exceed 90 m,p.h. In France you could buy the DS in soft-top guise with four seats, although with less space behind than the sedan.

The Facel-Vega Facellia



One of the world's most elegant small cars was the Facel-Vega Facellia, junior stablemate of the better known Facel II. Its relatively brief existence was dogged by development troubles, which unfortunately at the time received more than their fair share of publicity - which was not helpful to a company already in financial difficulty. Trying to steady the ship, and to Facel-Vega's credit, they did drastically reorganize their operation, a lot of attention being given to the Facellia's engine. Extensive modifications brought it into line with then current practice and made it much more reliable. This engine was a 1,647 c.c., high-efficiency, four-cylinder unit with twin overhead camshafts, which in standard form produced 115 bhp (gross).

There was also a sports version with twin double-choke Webers, giving a remarkable 126 bhp; claimed maximum speeds were 115 and 120 mph. respectively. It had a semi-integral body and chassis structure, a four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox and a rigid back axle carried in the orthodox manner on half-elliptic leaf springs. A variety of stylish, well-equipped bodies included a G.T. convertible and hardtop coupes with two and four seats. The Facellia was the French answer to Italy's Alfa-Romeo Giulietta and Fiat 1500 G.T. convertible, and to the UK's Sunbeam Alpine - except that it was much more expensive.

For The French Upper Class



With an engine more than three times larger than any other French car, the big Facel-Vega was France's only high-speed prestige vehicle. Thus in its own country it had to compete directly only with imported products. Most Facel-Vegas were exported, where their prices were swelled by customs duties, freight charges and local purchase taxes. There were two versions, the two-door Facel II and the four-door Excellence, both of which were revised considerably before the 1961 Paris Salon. The Facel II was considerably lower in build, had a much greater window area and could carry more luggage. Although it had token seats at the back, for practical purposes it was considered a two-seater.

The 6-2-litre V8 engine, common to both, was linked to either of two transmissions; the cheaper was Torque-Flite automatic by Chrysler, a four-speed Pont-a-Mousson manual box being the alternative. The engine was fed either by a single four-choke carburettor (355 gross bhp) or by two such instruments (390 bhp). With the less powerful engine and automatic transmission the Facel IIs top speed was just over 130 mph. It was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes, but for the Excellence drums were still specified. Power steering was an option. The chassis specification was conventional with, for instance, a live rear axle on half-elliptic leaf spring. There was scarcely a square inch of plastic trim in a Facel - it was almost all English hide.
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1962 Amphicar
Germany

Amphicar

  Also see: Amphicar Road Tests and Reviews
 
The concept of being able to drive a car straight down a slipway and into a river has intrigued generations of engineers, but the Amphicar was one of the few to actually work (sort of).
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ASA 1000 GT
Italy

ASA 1000 GT

   
 
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 1961 Turin Motorshow was the 2 door prototype showcased at the Bertone stand, a car that was designed by Giugiaro with (aledgedly) the blessing of Enzo Ferrari (the engine and chassis were designed at Maranello). Despite thier approval, Ferrari made it known the design would never enter production. But the car was simply too beautiful to ignore, and backers launched ASA or Autocostruzione Societa per Azione.

Chief amoung these was the Oronzo de Nora petroleum company, and the ASA 1000 GT would enter volume production in 1964, built at the rate of around one per week. Ultimately the roll of the dice would show snakes eyes, production ending only a few short years later, and ASA disappearing from the automotive landscape forever. Production versions did not have the fairings for the headlights as shown on the prototype, and the only production variant to appear was a Spider version with a fibreglass body, again designed by Bertone, and displayed in 1963.
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1962 Austin A40 Farina
UK

Austin A40 Farina

  Also see: Austin Road Tests and Reviews
   
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Citroen Ami
France

Citroen Ami

  Also see: Citroen Road Tests and Reviews | Citroen Brochures
 
The Citroen Ami 6 was a strange car, powered by a 602cc so that it appealed to economy buyers, the car was oddly angled for plush economy.
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Citroen Bijou
France

Citroen Bijou

  Also see: Citroen Road Tests and Reviews | Citroen Brochures
 
The Citroen Bijou, powered by a 425cc engine and wearing an English plastic shell, it was good for 50 mph and 50 mpg.
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Citroen DS Dashboard
France

Citroen DS

  Also see: Citroen Road Tests and Reviews | Citroen Brochures
 
The Citroen DS was powered by a 1911cc engine, and featured an entirely new layout for the air-suspended driver.
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Citroen Safari
France

Citroen Safari

  Also see: Citroen Road Tests and Reviews | Citroen Brochures
 
The Citroen Safari was powered by a 1911cc engine, and was an early version of the now popular people-mover, having 8 seats that were always level.
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Facel II
France

Facel II

  Also see: The History of Facel Vega
 
The Facel II was powered by a wonderful 6286cc engine - at the time it was France's fastest from the Champs to the Corniches.
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Facellia F-2
France

Facellia F-2

  Also see: The History of Facel Vega
 
The Facellia F-2 was powered by a 1647cc engine, and was a handsome little car with potent performance given the small size of the engine.
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1962 Lotus Elan 1500
UK

Lotus Elan 1500

  Also see: Lotus Road Tests and Reviews | Lotus Brochures
   
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1962 Lotus Elan 1500
UK

MG MGB

  Also see: MG Road Tests and Reviews | MG Brochures
 
The big news for 1962 was the release of the MGB. It was based on the MGA except that a monocoque body instead of a separate chassis was used and the engine was again increased in size - to 1798 cc. Three years later, in 1965, the standard open car was joined by an MGB GT which had a closed body with a small hatchback rear end. The MGB Mk II released in 1967 and offered an optional automatic transmission for the first time and the standard manual gearbox was given synchromesh on first gear.

Two variations of the MGB have been sold - the MGC of 1967 to 1969 used a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine in basically the same body - a power bulge in the bonnet to accommodate the big engine is the most noticeable difference. This heavy engine caused strong understeer and was soon given up. Between 1973 and 1976, an MGB GT V8 was sold. This car used the 3.5-litre Rover V8 engine which gave it tremendous acceleration while maintaining reasonable handling.

From 1974 onwards the MGB had an unusually-styled, black urethane bumper to comply with American regulations. At the same time the whole body was raised 35 mm to increase the height of the bumper above ground level. This was a cheap way of doing the job from BMC's point of view but spoiled the handling of the B.
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Peugeot 403 Estate
France

Peugeot 403 Estate

  Also see: Peugeot Road Tests and Reviews | Peugeot Brochures
 
The Peugeot 403 Estate was powered by a 1468cc four-cylinder engine which proved to be a big, strong servant with a long life.
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Peugeot 404
France

Peugeot 404

  Also see: Peugeot Road Tests and Reviews | Peugeot Brochures
 
The Peugeot 404 was powered by a 1618cc engine, and became known as a quiet running greyhound for the discerning family throughout the world.
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Renault 4
France

Renault 4

  Also see: Renault Road Tests and Reviews | Renault Brochures
 
A rugged little hero, the versatile and hilariously simple Renault 4 was a classic car-for-the-masses. And people did like them - over eight million were sold over 33 years.
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Renault Dauphine
France

Renault Dauphine

  Also see: Renault Road Tests and Reviews | Renault Brochures
  The Renault Dauphine was powered by an 845cc engine - a chic four-seater, light to drive, with a strong feminine appeal.
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1962 Saab 96
Sweden

Saab 96

  Also see: Saab Road Tests and Reviews
 
The 96 was first introduced in 1960. The main difference between it and its predecessor was the larger rear window. The engine had grown to 841cc and now produced 38 hp.
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Renault Dauphine
France

Simca 1000

  Also see: Simca Road Tests and Reviews
  The Simca 1000 was powered by a 944cc engine and became very popular, particularly on home soil.
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Simca Aronde
France

Simca Aronde

  Also see: Simca Road Tests and Reviews
  The Simca Aronde was powered by a 1290cc engine. It proved to be an industrious worker with polite manners.
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1962 Standard Vanguard
UK

Standard Vanguard

  Also see: Standard Road Tests and Reviews
   
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1962 Triumph Herald
UK

Triumph Herald

  Also see: Triumph Road Tests and Reviews
   
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1962 Triumph Herald Convertible
UK

Triumph Herald Convertible

  Also see: Triumph Road Tests and Reviews
   
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1962 Triumph Spitfire 4
UK

Triumph Spitfire 4

  Also see: Triumph Road Tests and Reviews
   
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Vauxhall Victor FB
UK

Vauxhall Victor FB

  Also see: Vauxhall Road Tests and Reviews
 
The 2nd generation Victor FB ran from 1961 until 1964. It was widely exported, though sales in the US ended after 1961 when Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick came up with home-grown compact models of their own. Consequently, the FB only achieved sales of 328,000 vehicles by the time it was replaced in 1964. Mechanically, the main change was the option of a 4 speed all synchromesh transmission with floor change but the previously used 3 speed column change unit was still fitted as standard. The engine was also revised with higher compression ratio and revised manifolding increasing the power output to 49.5 bhp. In early 1964 the engine was enlarged to 1594 cc. At the same time front disc brakes with larger 14 in (360 mm)wheels became an option.
1962 Fiat 500 Autobianchi Bianchi Quattroposti
1962 Fiat 500 Autobianchi Bianchi Quattroposti.
1962 Bentley S3 Continental Park Ward Sports Sedan
1962 Bentley S3 Continental Park Ward Sports Sedan.
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