Simca 1000 cars

by Andy Thompson based on this SIMCA site by Matt Cotton of Lake Parsippany, New Jersey

An Egyptian Midwife…

simca 1000 carsSimca’s long running 1000 remained in production almost unchanged for nearly twenty years as a result of America’s Chrysler company’s failure to support its European allies and subsidiaries. However, its birth can arguably be said to be the result of events much closer to home than the source of its demise. In July, 1956, Egypt's leader, Colonel Nassar nationalized the Suez Canal. British and French forces were not supported by the Americans in their efforts to return the canal to its prior owners. As a result, Europeans and European carmakers were faced with the problem of expensive and potentially unreliable petrol supplies.

Henri Theodore Pigozzi, the top man at the French Simca company, began to think of what was needed for this unexpected but potentially lucrative new market. He came to the conclusion that what was needed was a small car. It should be a completely new Simca range but one that could be seen to be an evolution of the Simca 5 of the thirties and forties. That two door, two seat car, rated 3CV under France’s taxation system was competitive with Renault’s 4CV. He named it Projet 950 because that was what he saw as being the engine size of the future car. The new car was expected to weight about 1430 lbs - lighter than the Simca Aronde so as not to compete with that successful car.. The new car was offered plenty of support - at the same time, Fiat, whose cars Simca had built in France, to establish itself as a French car maker began work for Pigozzi on the Project 122. The emerging link with Chrysler later led to interest in an ’American’ styled version of the new Simca baby 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. The proposed flat engine (a la Corvair) was dropped in favour of an ultra modern in line engine. This engine had a 5 main bearing crankshaft (unheard of in a small, economy engine at the time) and a cross-flow cylinder head. The robust engine was made so inexpensively that Simca had more money to invest in the transmission. Porsche synchromesh was used. Simca also decided on offering four gears instead of three once they knew that the future Super Dauphine (Renault R8) would have four!

By spring 1960, prototypes of the Projet 950 were being tested. 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. Mario Boano was clearly a talented designer – he had created the fabulous Lancia Aurelia B20 GT and the Simca 1000's chiseled appearance anticipated Guigiaro's designs of the mid-1970s. After a lot of reflection, the name Arielle was seriously considered for the new car. It offered the advantage of sounding part of the Simca family of Aronde and Ariane. However, the name was already in use by a long-time English motorcycle manufacturer. Simca also decided that the names Aronde and Ariane were associated with relatively old-fashioned models. It wanted a new modern image for its new modern car. In the end, since the car was to compete in the 1000cc class, Simca decided to call the car quite simply the Simca 1000 which in French became the Simca Mille.

By 1961, Simca had become the largest privately owned automobile manufacturer in France, producing cars, trucks and agricultural equipment. On February 9th, 1961, the last Simca Vedette, a modified version of the French Ford V8 inherited by Simca when it took over the American firm’s French operation, was produced at Poissy. The replacement on the production lines for the traditionally engineered, large and flamboyant Vedette could hardly be more different. The assembly lines were dismantled and Simca installed 9000 meters of conveyors and 500 new machines to build the new 1000. The factory was ready to build the new car by the summer of 1961.

Simca 1000 carsIn July 1961, the always well informed l'Auto Journal carried an article heralding the imminent release of the new SIMCA 5CV. At exactly 6.00am on July 27th, 191, the very first Simca 1000 rolled off the Poissy production line. Wherever stocks of new 1000s were parked, they were always put ahead of Arondes. Simca wanted the world to notice its new baby!

The press got its introduction to the 1000 at Montlherey on October 6th, 1961 followed by a formal unveiling on October 10th at the Paris Motor Show. The 1000 featured 4 wheel drum brakes, Gemmer worm and roller steering and 5.60 x 12 tyres. It was a compact car with a wheelbase of 86.6 inches, a length of 149.6 inches and a width of 58.3. It was slightly heavier that Pigozzi’s target tipping the scales at 1,584lbs It was however a genuine four seater with four doors.

By the beginning of 1962, 250 Simca 1000s were rolling off the assembly line every day. By the end of 1962 Simca had sold more than 160,000 of the little cars. The car was launched in Britain during the summer of 1962. Just one model was available initially. The cars originally didn’t have an ignition key. There were door locks on the front door sand once inside getting under way simply involved operating the starter switch tucked away behind the steering wheel.

The original 5CV (944cc) engine with bore and stroke of 68mm x 65mm was used from 1962 through until the end of production in 1978. From 1962 until 1968 the 1000 used the Simca 315 version of the engine with a compression ratio of 7.8:1 and a power output of 45 bhp SAE/34 bhp DIN @ 5000 rpm. This gave the car a top speed of 75mph. The ultra low frills Simca 900 used the same engine, during its production run from 1963 to 1965.

In January 1962, L'Automobile tested the 1000 against the Renault Dauphine Gordini., the high performance version of Renault’s work-a-day 845cc Dauphine. It was felt that the little Simca was easily a match for the ostensibly sportier Renault. Simca moved even more firmly into the performance market in March 1962, when the Simca 1000 Bertone Coupe and the Simca Abarth were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Sales of the Simca 1000 Coupe began slowly.

Simca-Abarth 1150

Carlo Abarth created the Simca-Abarth 1150 by increasing the bore and stroke of the 944cc engine to 69mm x 76mm raising the engine size to 1136cc The Abarth cars were offered in four different states of tune:

The Simca 1000 gets a rival

In July 1962, eight months after the launch of the Simca 1000, the 956cc Renault R8 was introduced, promising to be a strong rival to the 1000. The R8 was based on the Dauphine chassis and powertrain, but the styling was updated and compared to the Dauphine boxy. The four doors provided very narrow openings to the comfortable seats. The engine was at the back 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 the dynamics of the air intakes necessary for adequate cooling. Unlike the Simca, the Renault’s back door windows slid open rather than rolled down.

By 1963, Simca had firmly penetrated international markets and, although being much younger than its competitors, it constituted one of the big four of the French car industry, alongside 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. Fuel tank capacity was increased from 8.25 to 9.3 gallons.

The Simca 900

The SIMCA 900 was introduced in 1963, selling for 5,950 new francs. This represented quite a saving compared to the 6,490 NF basic 1000 and even more of saving over the 6,750 NF for the 1000 GL and 12,000 NF Coupe 1000. The Simca 900 had no bumper guards, painted headlight rims, a lack of brightwork but slightly better fuel economy. In contrast, at the opposite end of the range, the Simca 1000 GL (Grand Luxe) introduced also in 1963 could be distinguished by its metallic paint, chrome side trim, GL badges and cream interior trim and seats. However, the success of the SIMCA 1000 GL was partially at the expense of the 900 and the base 1000. Production of the Simca 1000 totalled in 1963 168,554.

simca mille carsThe Simca 1000 enjoyed very good sales against the Renault R8 and was the most exported French car. It was especially successful in Italy, which produced no small four door cars at the time. However, changes were on the horizon for Simca which would have an impact on the Simca 1000. In February 1963, Chrysler took control of 64% of Simca and a stake in the Rootes Group in England. Soon after the Chrysler take-over, all co-operative links with FIAT were severed. On May 30th 1963, Georges Hereil, former president of Sud Aviation replaced Henri Theodore Pigozzi as the head of SIMCA.

In September 1963, Simca launched the 1000 Special in Britain. Autocar magazine tested the little car and described it as: “a chunky and willing little chap, the kind of car that quickly becomes the family pet and acquires a nickname like Sammy”. The test car was fitted with an English only option – a walnut veneer facia panel which was not universally liked by the magazine’s test team! The British range now consisted of two – a Simca 1000 and a Simca 1000 Special.

New features for 1964 were limited to a slight increase in power for the Simca 1000 and front seat belt anchorage points. The recent introduction of the Simca 1300-1500 had taken up a lot of Simca’s resources. Britain retained a small choice – a 1000 and a 1000GL. The Special hadn’t last for long initially on the British market being replaced early in 1964 by the GL.

By the end of 1964 the British range had expanded to four models – Simca 1000, 1000L, 1000GL and 1000GLS. Prices were wuite high compared to more conventional cars available to British buyers – a Simca 1000GL cost £660, way above a Vauxhall Viva deluxe at £573 and even slightly more than the much larger Ford Cortina 1200 Deluxe four door at £648 and a Hillman Minx at £636.

The Simca 1000 cars get more refined suspensions

In response to two years of press preoccupation with the 1000’s vague steering and unpredictable directional stability, refinements to car’s suspension layout were introduced in 1965 and 1966. At the same time, work began on Projet 928, or VLBB (Voiture Legere Berline Break), the future 1100. All of the energy spent on this project - which was Simca’s first front wheel drive car - led to the end of the relationship with Abarth, ironically, just when Gordini was working his magic on the Renault R8. Relatively mediocre results at LeMans in 1962 also contributed to the end of the SIMCA-Abarth partnership.

simca 1000 assembly lineEven before the first prototype was rolled out, it was decided that the 1000 should be marketed in the United States. Pigozzi envisioned the 1000 as a worthy competitor to Volkswagen and Renault, and the 1000 (restyled slightly by Bertone) made the trip for the first time in 1964. The 1000 was a relative success in the US, but never was a serious competition for the Beetle, which remained a strong seller into the 1970’s after the Simca 1000 was dropped from the American market. In 1964, Simca produced 136,106 of the little Mille.

In 1965, Georges Hereil, President and Director General succeeded as Mr. Simca the very charismatic Henri Theodore Pigozzi.. Georges Hereil affirmed at a press conference that Simca, though under American control, would remain a French manufacturer. The SIMCA 1000 began to benefit from the development work undertaken in 1963 and 1964inresponse to press criticisms of the ca. A new trim level, the GLS (Grand Luxe Super) was introduced. It featured special, full wheel covers, breathable, Aeralon upholstery with reclining seat backs, better trim and chrome horn ring. It was introduced to compete with the new Renault R8 Major. The Coupe 1000 engine was worked over by Rodez, resulting in a top speed of 106mph. The rest of the 1000 line benefited from better interior ventilation and improved oil pump. The 1000 was a big success in Italy, Germany and Great Britain, even though Chrysler did not want the 1000 to compete with the Scottish-built Hillman Imp. In England, the GLS was equipped with a unique, wood trimmed dashboard.

Since its official introduction in 1964, the U.S. version of the 1000 featured larger, 7" headlights, round front blinkers, set below and inboard of the headlights with a slim, horizontal chrome ‘grille’ between them. The front bumper guards were moved outward, under the headlamps, so that they would not interfere with the relocated blinkers. The wide, chromed badge from the Coupe 1000 Bertone was set between the headlights.

Total production of the 1000 in 1965 slipped to 108,555.

However, 1966 brought a sales rebound and a new range. The 900 was dropped and the Simca 1000 L (6,200 FF) became the base model. An LS (6,600 FF) was introduced. It and the L shared the same power train between 1966and- 1968: a 5CV, 944cc (bore and stroke were 68mm x 65mm) unit with a compression ratio of 8.2:1. It produced 50hp SAE @ 5200 rpm, enough for a top speed of .83mph. Next came the GL (6,900 FF) and GLS (7,350 FF) at the top of the line (but below, of course, the 12,000 FF Coupe 1000. A totally new, horizontal dashboard was unveiled in 1966, complete with a linear speedometer - quite in vogue at the time! The GL and GLS had a glove box lid too. On the L and LS, the rear seat folded flat or was completely removable. The removed seat-back could be placed inside the boot. The thinking behind this modification was to help with the impracticality inherent in rear engined cars. By this time, Citroen was enjoying success with its Ami 6 Break, Renault with its R4 and Autobianchi with its Primula. Front quarter lights were introduced on the GL and GLS.

Automatic transmissions

Two new automatic models were announced by Simca. They were offered only in metallic brown rosario: These were the Simca 1000 GLA and the Simca 1500 GLA. The three speed Feredo semi-automatic transmission used in the 1000 was not at all similar to the traditional Borg-Warner automatic used on the 1500 GLA. Instead, it was more similar to the system seen years before on the Renault Fregate Transfluide. The availability of this transmission helped sales in the cities. It wasn’t really a fully automatic system as the driver still had to move the gear lever to select a gear. There were three ratios – one for town use, one for open road use and low ratio for hills or speedy getaways. The system included a torque converter and gear changes were made by simply releasing the throttle and moving the shifter to the required gear. An electric switch, operated when the gear lever was moved (or even touched) interrupted drive to allow the gears to change.

The 1966 SIMCA 1000 GLA automatic was originally introduced as a separate model for that year only. The automatic transmission was however eventually made available on other 5CV 1000 (and 1500) models as an option. Motor magazine tested the 1000GLS automatic in June 1966. At that time it was one of just three small cars available in Britain with automatic transmission – the others were the DAF Daffodil and Austin-Morris Mini range. The magazine noted that it could: “scuttle round corners quite quickly” but could be skittish in side winds. All in all, they said the car: “performs its intended functions extremely well…makes a pleasant little town car”. It increased the choice of Simca 1000s in Britain for 1966 which was essentially a three car range – LS, GLS and 1000 Coupe.

Chrysler starts to take over Simca

The Chrysler Pentastar began to make its appearance, destined overtime to replace the Simca Swallow. On September 1st, 1966, Simca launched "the Quality Guarantee", a unique for the time package offering 2 years or 60,000 km guarantee on all models (American Chryslers at the time had 5 year, 50,000 mile warranties). Total production in 1966 rebounded to 133,951.

By 1967, Simca had become one of France's biggest firms, with well over ten million square feet of manufacturing space, 24,000 employees and more than 6,500 dealers and service centres across 130 export countries. In 1967, the Chrysler Pentastar appeared on the lower, right wing of every Simca and at the front of the plant at Poissy, replacing the Simca Swallow. However, the Simca 1000 saloon were left unchanged even though the 1000 faced more and more competition from Renault’s R8, R8 Major and the new R10. The Renaults were more economical and had four wheel disc brakes compared to the Simca’s four wheel drums, uncommunicative steering and light weight suspension. The Renaults also benefited from the publicity surrounding brilliant performance of the R8 Gordini. The British range for 1967 was made up of the Simca 1000L, 1000GL, 1000GLS and a 1000GLS Semi-automatic. Pricing was still quite high – a 944cc Simca 1000LS cost £640 which was only slightly less than a 1725cc Hillman Minx at £672. A Renault 4 in Britain cost just £544 while a Renault 8 was directly comparable at £630.

In December, 1967, Harry E. Chesebrough director of planning of the European Products Group was also named director general of Simca, taking authority for its technical direction, production and sales. The duties of Georges Hereil – and the French influences - were reduced as Simca became increasingly a part of the American Chrysler Corporation.

As the swinging sixties progressed, life got harder for the little Simca – 1968 was a difficult year. Six years after the Mille’s launch, the days of light, rear-engined cars, such as the Beetle, Hillman Imp, Renault 8, Renault 10, FIAT 600 and 850 were numbered. This year, 43.6% of the vehicles made at Poissy were the 1100, and only 25.7% were the 1000 (the other 30.7% was split between the 1300 and 1500 models). This mediocre percentage of 1000 models represented total production of 81,595 units.

The 1968 American market Simca 1000 featured a larger, horizontal grille, more the size and shape of the French versions. Also featured were an oversized chrome surround for the rear license plate, which included reversing lights, neatly set within the matt black panel. The reversing lights were required to satisfy US legal requirements. However, it was determined that the two, round lights could not be installed correctly at the factory, so they were first sub-assembled” to the black panel and the assembled panel was then be neatly fitted to the space between the taillights. The front and rear bumpers were fitted with chrome over rider bars - in the front connecting the two bumper guards and in the rear reaching out from each bumper guard and wrapping around the corner. There were also extra safety features.

In spite of the falling production, exports of the 1000 remained surprisingly strong, however, to Germany, Italy and the Benelux. Britain remained a small but important market, the 1968 range being the same as that offered in 1967. Looking at the bigger picture, though, even the success of the 1200S had not been enough to boost sales of the entire line. The Simca 1100 had just been introduced but Simca bosses felt that the firm still needed a cheaper, entry-level vehicle. The decision was therefore made to entirely renovate the 1000 line for 1969.

The entire line finally benefited from a number of long awaited modifications. New front and rear styling was introduced to showcase the mechanical changes made to the cars.. The range was reduced to just three models: the Sim'4 (6,595 FF, 4CV, and intended only for the domestic market), the 1000 (7,695 FF, 5CV) and the 1000 Special (8,995 FF, 6CV, and intended mostly for export). The 1000 Special for 1969 with its 49 bhp DIN engine, featured long-distance iodine driving lamps, a wood trimmed dashboard, sporty steering wheel and top speed of 89mph.

All 1000’s carried the new ‘349’ motors replacing the original ‘315’ series. The 4CV (777cc) Sim'4 engine (motor ‘359’) was used from 1969 until 1972. The engine of the Sim'4 (effectively a replacement for the 900) had a bore and stroke of 68mm x 53.5mm, 7.8:1 compression ratio, 31hp DIN @ 6100 rpm and a top speed of 72mph. The 944cc version of the ‘349’ motor was now made from the block of the 1100. The 1118cc 6CV engine, first seen in the Simca 1100, was used initially in the 1000 Special and had an application in one form of Simca 1000 or another until 1978. It also powered the 1100 (from 1968 through 1985) and the Horizon (from 1978 through 1985).

There were also significant technical and mechanical changes. The front suspension was reinforced and improved to be like that on the 1200S. Front disc brakes became available and the steering became rack & pinion instead of the former Gemmer worm-and-roller type. The steering column had a two-piece jointed safety shaft that allowed the shaft to bend instantly in the event of a front-end collision. The new, transverse mounted, multiple leaf front spring had one centre clamp which resulted in a softer ride. A front anti-roll bar was added as well. The rear suspension was greatly improved. A second outer universal joint was added on both rear axleshafts, to assure negative rear wheel camber at all times, resulting in a substantial improvement in lateral stability and in cornering.The battery was moved to the front boot to improve weight distribution although that further reduced what precious little space there was for luggage. Stuff loaded into the boot was protected from battery spills by a sheet-metal surround and a heavy plastic cover.

All models benefited from equally important aesthetic touches, too, giving the 1969 1000 a very up-to-date look. The front was visually enlarged with a larger grille, bumper and 7" as opposed to 5” headlights. The front parking lights / blinkers were moved to a wrap-around position, low on each wing. At the rear, the round taillights were replaced by very contemporary trapezoidal ones. Wheel diameter increased from 12" to 13" (except the Sim'4 which retained 12" for another year) and were half an inch wider. Radial ply tyres too made an appearance too. The pentastar replaced the swallow on the hubcaps and on the Special these hubcaps featured some matt black paint. The exception was the Sim'4 which, by retaining the 12" wheels was able to use up all of the old hubcaps in stock!

The new generation of 1000 was a big success. On 1 June 1st, 1969, Henri Chemin launched the "Simca Challenge", encouraging drivers with sporting ambitions to try a Simca! In Britain, the range continued to attract interest from car buyers who needed a small four door saloon. The Simca 1000LS and GL had a 944cc engine with the semi-automatic available as special order option on the GL. The folding rear seat was an option too on these cars. Next up was the Simca 1000 GLS with the 1118cc engine and at the top the 1118cc 1000 Special with driving lamps, sports steering wheel with drilled spokes and the rev counter mounted in the centre console.

The changes to the suspension did, according to Motor magazine in 1969: “great things to the handling and ride”. They rated the revised 1000 Special as being: “fun to drive, comfortable but rather cramped for four”.

In America, the 1000 was renamed Simca 1118 and offered for sale at $1,745. The U.S. models also received front and rear side lamps and separate, additional, rectangular parking lights below the headlights. The American market only chrome over rider bars and back-up lights were retained as well. The grille had a fine line horizontal theme, giving the illusion of a wider car.

On February 25th 1970, the millionth 1000 left the assembly line. The Sim'4 was freshened up for the new decade. Because of its reduced engine size, it had always required a lot of use of the gearbox in town driving, to the detriment of its economy. So, it was given two more horsepower (to 33hp din @ 6,000rpm, 76mph), and city mpg was improved as well. In fact, all of the models got more power: The L and LS got 44hp din @ 6,000rpm, the Special got 55hp din @ 5,800rpm and the 1200S got 87hp din @ 6,200rpm. Front brakes became discs on the Special. Also, the Special got inclined instruments. A rare offering, the base 1000 was also made available with the 4cv finish and the 5cv engine. It was not sold in Britain. Britain’s range for 1970 consisted of the 1000LS, generally available only to special order, a slightly more luxurious GL – both had the 944cc engine and in the case of the LS the option of semi-automatic gearbox. Topping out the range was an 1118cc Special. The 1200S coupe was a special order, left hand drive model only.

The previous years ‘Simca Challenge’ had sparked renewed interest in sporty automobiles from Poissy. In February 1970, the 1000 Rallye was launched - a return of Simca to R8 Gordini territory! The Special motor was placed in a Sim'4 shell, with no hubcaps or grille, and was made all the more sporty with a matte black painted bonnet, sporty bucket driver’s seat and a unique dashboard with round, full instrumentation. It was meant to attract young people, and at only 8,690 francs compared to 15,340 FF for the Gordini on the surface it looked good value. However, the Renault offered performance well out of the Simca’s range which topped out at only 89 mph. The original Rallye was made until February 1972.

In May 1970, American Harry E. Chesebrough replaced Gwain H. Gillespie at the helm of the French firm.. As of 1 Jul 70, the Societe des Automobiles SIMCA no longer exists. Since acquiring 64% of SIMCA in 1963, Chrysler had by this time now increased it’s share and for all intents and purposes was now Simca’s total owner. The company was now, logically renamed Chrysler France, and lost forever was its autonomy. By introducing the Chrysler 160 and 180 this year, Simca branded cars no longer represented the whole of production at Poissy. Total production of Simca 1000s in 1970 was 109,451.

In the summer of 1971, Gwaine Gillespie became the first in a line of Simca Presidents appointed by Detroit, replacing Georges Hereil. On August 31st, 1971, the words ‘Chrysler France’ replaced ‘SIMCA’ on the outside of the plant at Poissy. New, rectangular one piece badges replaced the individual S.I.M.C.A. letters on the cars.

The 1000 by contrast had a calm 1971 although Chrysler wanted to really push the newness of the 1969 redesign and launched another big publicity push in 1971. Advertising of the car in France had been rather low key since 1965. On the Rallye, the removable rear seat was deleted and a new 1000 5CV with simplified trim and finish was added to the range. The Sim'4 was advertised as the perfect AutoRoute car, since the speed limit on the French highways was just 75 mph (exactly the Sim'4's top speed).

Britain’s 1971 range consisted of the LS, GL and Special, complementing their sister small cars, the Hillman Imps, from the British end of Chrysler. A Hillman Imp Super cost £770 while a Simca 1000GL was available for £789. The Imp Deluxe retailed at £726, a Simca 1000LS at £739. The sporty models cost £872 for a Sunbeam Imp Sport compared to £859 for Simca 1000 Special.

Chrysler continued however with a high profile sports programme, boosting the image of Simca. The Special included a tachometer, mounted in a centre console by the gear shift lever. Five kits were available for upgrading the 1971 Simca 1000 Rallye, which were in effect the predecessors to the Rallye 1, Rallye 2 and Rallye 3. They included two engine options, Performance Motor (97 mph top speed) and Competition Motor (106 mph top speed) and Suspension and Wheel packages.

Capitalizing on the success of the 1000 Rallye, in 1972 Chrysler introduced the Rallye 1, with the 1294cc engine from the 1100 Special. It was made from February 1972 until January 1978. Renault had just abandoned the 8 Gordini, replacing it with the 12 Gordini, so there was certainly room in the market for the Rallye 1. The 1,294cc engine, rated in France at 7CV for taxation purposes, developed 60hp din @ 5400 rpm and the top speed was 97mph. The transmission had reinforced synchromesh from the 1100 and the front suspension was modified. Costing 9,995 francs, the Rallye 1 was really accessible to young amateur moto rsport enthusiasts. This sturdy little engine was also found in the Bagheera from 1973 until 1980, the Alpine/1307 and Solara/1510 until 1980 and the Horizon until 1985. The Simca go faster tapes on the little car were changed to Rallye stripes. Chrysler accompanied the launch of the Rallye 1 with the SIMCA Racing Team, which promised to be a major success.

The rest of the line was improved too. The 1000 Special had the same 1294cc engine as the Rallye 1 and there was a new, 1118cc GLS. All French 1000's now came with a left outside mirror and 3-spoke safety steering wheels.

Production of the 1200S coupe ended in 1972. Designed by Bertone, the 1000S of which 10,011 were built from 1962 to 1967 and the 1200S which ran from 1967 to 1971 and saw 14,741 examples made, had been a real boost to the image of the car. Sales of the mainstream saloon however continued to be very good. Total production in 1972 went up to 111,542. The car remained quite popular in Britain too, being offered in four versions – a 944cc 1000LS, a 1118cc GLS, a 1294cc Special and the sporty Rallye 1. Only the LS was offered with the option of a semi-automatic transmission.

Six months after the introduction of the Rallye 1 the Rallye 2 was launched in 1973, the same year that Frank M. Rogers became president of Simca. The Rallye 2 lasted from September 1972 until January 1978. The 1294cc motor in the Rallye 2 from the 1100 Special now had two twin barrel Solex carburettors. Power increased to 82hp din @ 6,000 rpm, good for a top speed of 106mph. Four-wheel disc brakes were taken from the 1200S. The radiator was moved to the front under the bumper and had thermostatically controlled electric fans. The size of the petrol tank was increased to almost 13 gallons making use of the extra room created when the radiator moved to the front of the car. This car filled the void left in the French market after the demise of the 88hp Renault 8 Gordini, and at 12,900 FF found many buyers! It was like the return of the 1000 Abarth after ten years! The front and rear suspension systems of the Rallye 1 were adopted across the 1000 line but the Sim'4 was dropped. The body structure of the 1000's was strengthened to meet new European norms for frontal impacts. The 944cc LS continued with four-wheel drum brakes while the 1118cc GLS had front discs. The 1000 continued to offer the option of semi-automatic transmission in either the LS or GLS with the 5CV motor. Total production went up again to 112,273.

The middle-east oil crisis of 1973 reminded motorists everywhere of the importance of fuel economy. In Britain, the firm photographed the cars in London for its brochure campaign and maintained a four model line up – LS, GLS, Special and Rallye 1. The LS could be bought with the semi-automatic gearbox. In February 1974, the 1000 GLE was introduced with the finish of the GLS and the 944cc motor of the LS. Unfortunately, this relatively high-compression engine could not be made to run on low cost regular petrol, rather defeating the object of the exercise! It was not even sold in Britain and was replaced completely by the 5CV GLS in 1976. By this time, new competition from among others the Renault 5 and the Fiat 127 was having an impact on the Simca 1000. Total production fell to 90,178.

Simca 1000 cars
Image kindly supplied by Graham Arnold

For 1975, the 1000 got a rejuvenated interior. The dashboard now had modern, round instruments. The door panels and headlining were also re-done. Only the LS retained four-wheel drum brakes. All models got a 35-amp alternator, replacing the anachronistic dynamo. The French 1000 line could now be had in six versions: the LS (9,550 francs) and 10,150 FF GLE (10,150 francs) both with 944cc, 44 bhp engines; the GLS with 1,118cc, 55 bhp engine (10,250 francs) and the Special (10,950 francs) and Rallye 1 (10,850 francs) both with 1,294cc, 60 bhp engines. Top of the range was the Rallye 2 (13,580 francs) with a 1,294cc, 82 bhp motor. Britain’s 1975 line up was slightly less wide – a 944cc 1000LS, a 1118cc GLS, a 1294cc Special and for its final year in the UK the Rallye 1. The semi-automatic option was dropped for the UK. Production slipped even further to just 73,350.

The production of small, rear-engined cars was near the end by 1976. The same year, 1976 saw the beginning of the end for Chrysler in Europe, due to ever more problems back home in the United States. The 1000 got a larger oil pump was fitted and anti-pollution equipment was also installed. There were new colours inside and out. Two new 1000 SR models were introduced for just the one year. The SR 1294 had the 82 bhp Type 371 engine and replaced the 7CV 1000 Special. It wore the alloy wheels of the highly respected Simca 1100 TI and had a top speed of over 106 mph. The SR 1118 replaced the 6CV 1000 GLS. The 5CV GLS was dropped. Britain’s range for 1976 was the 944cc 1000LS, the 1118cc GLS and a 1294cc SR complete with round driving lamps mounted above the front bumper.

In March 1976, the 1000 Extra was unveiled in France. It was based on the GLS and was a ‘Limited Edition’ model. It included as standard equipment special wheels, iodine headlights, long-distance driving lights, special tyres, tinted glass, velour seats and metallic paint. Buyers could also choose between a sunroof (for 15,690 francs) or a radio (for 15,690 francs). The Extra was available in blue, brown or grey. But production continued to fall - to 67,536.

The 1000 died in 1977, replaced by the 1005 and 1006. These two new cars were not really new automobiles but face lifted 1000s. At the front, huge rectangular headlamps were located in a huge matt black plastic grille and the bonnet was given a smoother line. Both models included as standard radial ply tyres, heated rear window, new lights for the number plate located on the new style, slightly higher rear bumper and dual circuit braking. The 1005 LS was the base model replacing the 1000 LS and included a folding rear seat, the optional ‘Automatique’ transmission and a 944cc, 40 bhp motor. They were sold in Britain as the 1000LS and 1000GLS respectively. Britain also got a Simca 1000SR with a 1294cc engine and two under bumper rectangular front driving lamps.

In October 1977, Autocar magazine tested a Simca 1000 for the last time. They drove a Simca 1000LS and rated it as being: “still good value for money” although the handling was described as: “challenging but safe.” By this time, the Simca was one of the cheapest cars available on the British market costing £1893 as a baseline LS – the same as two door Mini 850. Although that was more than a similarly rear engine top line Skoda Estelle 120LS at £1799 it was much cheaper than the final Volkswagen Beetles, a 1200 costing British beetle-philes £2598.

In France, the 1005 LS De Luxe replaced the 1005 LS in January 1978 and featured metallic paint, tinted glass, long-distance driving lights and velour upholstery. The 1006 GLS replaced the 1000 GLS and featured the fold down rear seat as an option. Standard was the 1118cc, 55hp ‘351’ series engine. The 1006 GLS had more luxurious finish, with long distance driving lights and side rub strips. The 1006 GLS itself was dropped in January 1978, replaced by the 1006 LS De Luxe which featured metallic paint, tinted glass, velour upholstery, folding rear seat as standard and, at last, a radio! The SR was not continued past 1977.

Britain got two extra Simca 1000s for the run out of the car on the UK market in May 1978, the 944cc 1005 and the 1118cc 1006 GLS Specials, marketed as part of the ‘Simcarisma’ campaign replete with dancing girls. The two new cars complemented the 1000LS and 1000GLS.

The Rallye 1 and Rallye 2 continued for French buyers, with the same styling changes and continued to find much favour among auto racing fanatics. In March 1977, Chrysler offered a Group 2 kit and the ‘Coupe SRT 77’ upgrade was offered with 110hp @ 6500 rpm for an additional 4,400 francs. Even when added to the cost of a Rallye 2 at 22,385 francs, the whole package cost less than Volkswagen Golf GTI, then retailing in France at 35,450 francs. It included modifications that brought horsepower up to 110bhp and top speed to 116mph. The changes included two twin barrel Weber 40DCOE carburettors and a large plastic air dam style spoiler up front.

The Rallye 3 was introduced in December 1977, replacing the Rallye 1 and Rallye 2. Just a 1000 were made. It had 165/70-13 tyres up front and 175/70-13 at the back. The engine was a 1294cc unit with a double exhaust system installed below the rear bumper, reducing power to 103 bhp. It was still, good for a top speed of 111 mph and could cover the quarter mile in 17.2 seconds. The pre-production model was shown in traditional French racing blue but the production cars were nearly all painted Ibiza White. Aluminium alloy wheels were standard. The first deliveries to customer started in January 78 and the final ones were delivered in May of the same year.

The introduction of the Chrysler Horizon at the end of November 1977 (Projet C2) marked the end for the 1000. Production of the rear engined Simca 1000 ended in May 1978 although the cars remained listed in Britain until October 1978! A total of 1,642,091 had been made and not just in France. Simca Barreiros between 1966 and 1969 and Chrysler Simca (Spain) between 1970 and 1977 built the little car in Spain.

In Colombia it was assembled by Chrysler Colmotores between 1969 and 1977, a total of 33,263 units using CKD kits from Spain. The first Series One models were made in 1969 followed in 1970 by the Series 2. It was the first small European car made in Colombia. In spite of a high price, largely due to high taxes (which were reduced in 1974) it was an immediate success and there was a six month waiting list to buy one! Its first real competition came in 1971, with the arrival in the south American country of the Renault 4. The range included a special Simca 1000 Taxi. The Simca 1000 gained quite a reputation in south America. The popular music group "The Cruel Ones" included it in one of their songs – to translate roughly from the Spanish: "How difficult it is to make the love in a SIMCA 1000"!

In the Netherlands, Chrysler Holland built 3114 using CKD kits from France. It had been sold successfully in the USA, Canada, Peru, Germany, and England.

The 1118cc Horizon LS was introduced as the French successor to the 1005 and 1006. It was joined in Europe by the Chrysler-SIMCA Sunbeam as a less expensive replacement for the SIMCA 1000. Imported to Europe from the original Hillman Imp plant in Linwood, Scotland, it had SIMCA and Sunbeam badges at the rear and Chrysler (later Talbot) badges at the front. In Britain, it was called quite simply Chrysler Sunbeam.

By the end of 1978, Chrysler had brought to an end its involvement in car making in Europe. Lots of informal negotiations took place during 1978 with a multitude of European manufacturers. Apparently the French Renault and Peugeot companies (the latter of which had just bought Citroen in 1974) were the most interested and were encouraged in their talks by the French government, who didn't accept the idea of the Poissy firm being sold to a foreign buyer. But Renault had just acquired American Motors Corporation and didn’t want to take on another firm. Ironically, Renault sold the American Motors firm to Chrysler in1987! That left the winner as Peugeot and on May 10th, 1978, an agreement was signed which stated: “the Chrysler Corporation transfers all of its interests in its European operations to Peugeot Societe Anonyme". On August 10th 1978, Chrysler transferred all its interests in Europe to PSA. On 1 January 1st, 1979, the Americans packed up and left Poissy. The directors of Chrysler France were now once again completely French, presided over by Francois Pessin Pellefier, a high flyer at Peugeot since 1968.

The SIMCA 1000's evolution

October 1961

SIMCA 1000 unveiled at the Paris Salon, after a rapid gestation. The first rear engined SIMCA sparked immediate interest, and thanks to a large pre-launch stock having been built up, the company were in a position to capitalise on the interest the car aroused.

March 1962

Coupé 1000 Bertone and the SIMCA-Abarth 1150 were shown at the Geneva Salon.

1963

944cc's power increased from 34 to 39bhp, fuel tank enlarged

SIMCA 900 introduced; as a lower priced and equipped entry model in the range

SIMCA 1000GL introduced; to top the range

1964

SIMCA 1000 exported to the USA.

1966

SIMCA 900 dropped, 1000L becoming the new entry level model. The model range was re-aligned, with the introduction of a new LS model. GL and GLS remain as before.

Revised dashboard incorporating a strip speedometer is phased in.

SIMCA 1000GLA Ferodo semi-automatic model introduced.

1967

Chrysler badging makes an appearance.

1969

The range is completed facelifted, and the new model range looks like this: Sim'4, 1000 and 1000 Spécial. The existing 944cc engines replaced by the type 349 (related to that used in the SIMCA 1100), and the Sim'4 used a Type 359 motor, displacing 777cc. Exterior styling characterised by new frontal styling, which now sported large, rectangular headlamps.

1970

Sim'4's power boosted from 31 to 33bhp.

The 1000 Rallye launched.

1972

1000 Rallye 1 launched, featuring the 1294cc engine from the 1100 Spécial.

1000 Spécial upgunned to 1294cc and the GLS model now features 1118cc engine.

1200S production stopped.

1973

82bhp Rallye 2 introduced.

1975

The 1000 range features a new dashboard.

1976

1000SR 1294 (featuring Type 371 engine) replaced 1000 Spécial.

1000SR 1118 replaced 1000GLS.

1977

Final facelift: cosmetically, larger headlamps and re-profiled bonnet introduced. New model nomenclature (to fit in with the rest of the range) and the range looks like this: 1005LS (944cc 40bhp), 1005 Deluxe, 1006GLS (1118cc 55bhp), Rallye 1 and Rallye 2.

Group 2 kit and the "Coupe SRT 77" offered (producing 110bhp) as an upgrade kit on the Rallye 2.

Rallye 3 introduced, featuring 103bhp 1294cc engine.

1978

Production ended in May.

 

 

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