Simca 1000 emblem.
|Search for Simca 1000 on:|
In July of 1956, Egypt's leader, Colonel Nassar nationalized the Suez Canal and for the next 15 years Europeans and European automakers were faced with the problem of gas shortages and expensive gas! Henri Theodore Pigozzi began to think of what was needed: a small car, lighter than the Aronde, as a new line of SIMCAs, but not to compete with the SIMCA 6 (Aronde).
It should be like an evolution of the SIMCA 5 of the 30s and 40s, that 3CV, 2-door, 2-seat car that was so competitive with the Renault 4CV. But he wanted to be competitive with the slightly larger Dauphine, to be a sort of little sister to the Aronde. He named it "Projet 950", for this is what he envisioned the engine size of the future car, with a weight of around 1430 lbs. At the same time, FIAT began work (for him) on the Project 122. And later, the link with Chrysler led to interest in an "American" styled version as well.
In the winter of 1959/1960, Fiat's "Project 122" was dropped and only SIMCA's own "Projet 950" continued to be developed. Several options were abandoned: the flat motor (a la Corvair) was dropped in favor of an ultra modern in line engine with a 5 main bearing crankshaft (unheard of in a small, economy engine at the time) with cross-flow carburetor. The robust engine was actually made so inexpensively, that more money could be dedicated to the transmission, and Porsche synchronizers were used, and four gears were specified (instead of three) once it was known that the future Super Dauphine (Renault R8) would have four!
In the Spring of 1960, prototypes of the "Projet 950" began rolling. The goal was to have cars available for launch in time for their preview at the Paris Auto Salon in October, 1961. Stylist Mario Boano was brought in to make a few last minute modifications. After a lot of reflection, the name Arielle was considered for the new car. It offered the advantage of recognition with the Aronde and the Ariane (but the name was already in use by a long-time English motorcycle manufacturer). In addition, it was determined that the names Aronde and Ariane were associated with relatively "old-fashioned" models. In the end, since the car was to compete in the "1000cc class", then that is what the new Simca shall be named!
By 1961, SIMCA was the largest privately owned automobile manufacturer in France, producing cars, trucks and agricultural equipment.
On 9 Feb 61, the last Vedette was produced at Poissy, and the renovations for 1000 production were begun. The assembly lines were begun to be dismantled and the new lines for the 1000 were installed. 9000 meters of conveyors and 500 new machines were installed. At the beginning of the Summer of 1961, the renovations were completed. In July of 1961, the always well informed "l'Auto Journal" carried the press release of the new SIMCA 5CV. On July 27, 1961 at precisely 6:00 am, the very first SIMCA 1000 rolled off the line at the factory in Poissy. Whenever stocks of new 1000's were parked, they were always done so as to be ahead of Arondes. On October 6, 1961, the press had its introduction to the 1000 at Montlherey. On October 10 1961, the 1000 was introduced at the Paris Salon. The original 5CV (944cc) engine was used from 1962 through 1978.
By the first days of 1962, 250 Simca 1000's were coming off the assembly line per day. The 1000 immediately conquered a broad section of the French market and by the end of 1962 had sold more than 160,000 specimens.
In March of 1962, the Coupe 1000 Bertone and the SIMCA Abarth were shown at the Geneva Salon.
In July of 1962, eight months after the launch of the SIMCA 1000, the (956cc) Renault R8 was introduced, promising to be a redoubtable rival to the 1000. The R8 was based on the Dauphine chassis and powertrain, but the styling was updated and boxy. The four doors provided very narrow openings to the comfortable seats, and the back door windows slid open, they did not roll down. The engine was carried at the rear, and the radiator was located forward of the engine, as in the SIMCA 1000. After a few years, Renault moved all of their rear-engined cars' radiators to the far rear of the car, having perfected their analysis of the dynamics of the air intake necessary for adequate cooling.
By 1963, SIMCA had already firmly penetrated the international market and, although being much younger than its competitors, it constituted one of the big 4 of the French car industry, with Renault. Citroen and Peugeot. The SIMCA 1000 began to evolve and mature. Power rose from 34hp din @ 4800 rpm to 39hp din @ 5200 rpm. This was equivalent to 50hp SAE. Top speed reached 81mph, impressive for a 5CV car. The fuel tank capacity was increased from 8.25 to 9.3 gallons. The SIMCA 900 was introduced at 5,950 new francs (vs 6,490 NF for the basic 1000, 6,750 NF for the 1000 GL and 12,000 NF for the Coupe 1000). It had no bumper guards, painted headlight rims, a dreary lack of brightwork and slightly better fuel economy. At the opposite end, the SIMCA 1000 GL (Grand Luxe) was introduced and was distinguished by its metallic paint, chrome side trim, "GL" badges and cream naugahyde interior trim and seats. The SIMCA 1000 enjoyed very good sales against the Renault R8 and was the most exported French car. The SIMCA 1000 was especially successful in Italy, which produced no light, four door cars at the time. In February of 1963, Chrysler took control of SIMCA (64%) and the Rootes Group in England. Soon after the Chrysler takeover, all cooperative links with FIAT were severed. On May 10, 1963, Georges Hereil, former president of Sud Aviation replaced Henri Theodore Pigozzi as the head of SIMCA. Sales of the Coupe 1000 began slowly. Production Total: 168,554.
(source: Matt's History of the Simca).
Much of the material on this website is copyrighted. Original articles appearing herein are subject to copyright. Please don't copy stuff from the site without asking; it may belong to someone! Any trademarks appearing on this site are the sole property of the registered owners. No endorsement by trademark owners is to be construed. The products, brand names, characters, related slogans and indicia are or may by claimed as trademarks of their respective owners. Every effort has been made whenever possible to credit the sources. The use of such material falls under the Fair Use provisions of intellectual property laws.