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Saturday, August 24, 2019

1971 Simca 1204

Simca was Chrysler’s captive import from 1959 to 1978.

Simca was an acronym for  Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile, which translated into English as Mechanical and Automotive Body Manufacturing Company.  Manufacture of automobiles got under way in 1935.  

 The first Simca offered to Canadians was this 1959 model.

Chrysler cozied up to the French automaker in 1959 when it needed a small car in its lineup. Since Chrysler had no European subsidiaries to draw from, it partnered with Simca. From St. John's to Victoria, the ‘Imported from Paris’ car sold a respectable 4,051 units in its maiden year—more than stablemate DeSoto.

The competition offered six-month warranties but Simca was covered for two years.

Created by engineers Philippe Grundeler and Charles Scales, Team Argenteuil began work on Top Secret Project 928 in 1962. The benchmark was the Austin/Morris 1100. Package parameters defined a 99.2 inch wheelbase and a trim 155.3 inches in overall length.  Designed to be a worldwide seller, much attention was paid to building in the comfort, space and handling characteristic of much larger automobiles. 

 The highly popular Simca was assembled in Sweden.

The Simca 1100 was named for its engine size and the car bowed to the public at the Paris Auto Show in  September 1967.  It was immediately the best-selling car in France and saw only running changes during its 15-year run. More than 2.2 million would be built in France, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Australia.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

On July 1st of 1970, Simca disappeared as an independent auto manufacturer, re-incorporated as Chrysler France. The Simca brand continued, however. It was now billed as 'Built by Chrysler in Europe, Backed by Chrysler in Canada.'  The corporate Pentastar was added to the front fenders.

The Poissy powerplant was tweaked for 1971, giving 15% more torque than previously.

In 1971, a more powerful 1,204-cubic centimetre mill replaced the 1.1-litre version. The 1100 morphed into Model 1204.The engine was a four-cylinder, overhead cam design, transversely mounted and married to front-wheel drive. The four-speed transmission was fully synchronized.
Simca’s overall width was 1587.8 millimetres (62.5 inches;) the front track measured 1336.5 millimetres (53.8 inches).
The front of the car was squarish. The grille was simple: ten slim, recessed horizontal bars bulged forward a wee bit as they approached the headlamps. Long, horizontal turn signals were nestled in a protruding lip beneath the grille, framed by a sleek wrap-around bumper. The bumper was crowned with a pair of vertical, rubberized bumper guards. 

The Simca 1204's wheelbase was  2519. 69 millimetres (99.2 inches)

The flanks reflected the box-like theme. The engine was canted 30°, allowing for a lower hood line.  The windshield was curved. The roofline sloped slightly to the rear. A  flow-through air vent graced the thick, sharply-raked C-pillar. Straight-sided, no-nonsense greenhouse glass melded into a a belt line that gently bowed outward. At mid-point, a chrome slab alleviated the body’s starkness, running from the headlight bezel, completely around the rear of the car. 

Radial-ply tires and an electrically-heated rear window were standard equipment in this year’s Simca.

The box theme was completed at the back. Taillights were simple rectangular affairs located midway between the bumper and a chrome kiss that ran straight across the lower lip of the hatchback door. The door itself was V’d. 

 With the rear seat folded, Simca boasted 1160.99 cubic litres (41-cubic feet) of space.

The 1204 came in three configurarions, including a hatchback version, though not the first of the genre. That honour went to Kaiser with its Traveler, revived in the 1964 Mazda line and the Renault 16. 

Renault 16.

However, the hatchback was no longer a novelty. Coming into its own, Simca capitalized on the practical feature. Sales literature referred to it as ‘the big back door’. When the ‘easy-fold’ rear seat was lowered into place, the cargo area created was a capacious 1160.99 cubic litres  (41 cubic feet). Voila! The versatile sedan quickly converted into a ‘trim wagon’.  Because of its rip-snortin’  1.2-litre four banger, auto journalists dubbed it the ‘hot hatch’.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Engineers might have skimped on styling but the Simca was a technological marvel. The transverse-mounted engine coupled with front-wheel drive gave a completely flat floor inside. Front brakes were disc and drums were employed aft. Suspension was independent torsion-bar. Steering was rack-and-pinion. 

Listing for $1,965 plus taxes, Chrysler-Plymouth dealers sold 1,464 Simcas in Canada in 1971.
The body shell was of single unit construction welded to a modified permitter frame chassis and the torsion bar suspension. This allowed the frame to carry the stress mounting points of the engine, transmission and suspension. The shell was then welded to the beefed-up frame. 

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Interiors were posh and roomy. Seating was configured for five passengers. Ribbed, loop-pile carpeting ran door-to-door and the cargo area in any of five colours. Door trim matched the breathable vinyl, foam-padded, moulded, coil-spring, countered bucket seats. Stealing a page from Rambler, the comfy seats reclined. 

 Simca owners appreciated the newly redesigned instrument panel that featured  dials.

The instrument panel was in keeping with the angular lines of the vehicle. Completely padded and graced with simulated wood-grain trim, four circular dials were grouped in a linear cluster directly in front of the driver. Rocker switches added to the upscale feel. When so equipped, the radio was located to the left of the driver. Simca boasted not only a large parcel shelf but a locking glove compartment.

 The Simca 1204 weighed in at 918 kilos (2,025 pounds). 

Thoughtful touches were seen throughout. Advertising bragged that the Simca was so fully loaded that only four options could be ordered. Air conditioning, semi-automatic transmission, radio and whitewall tires were the sole extras. 

Front-wheel drive gave superb traction in snow.

The Simca could be clad in Nogaro Red, Estoril Blue Metallic, Antheor Beige, Eiffel Yellow, Lorelei Gold Metallic, Tacoma White, Turquoise Metallic, Beige Gold Metallic and Sarde Orange. 

© James C. Mays 2019. All rights reserved.