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Simca redirects here; for other uses of that term, see SIMCA (disambiguation).
Simca
Fate merged into Chrysler Europe, subsequently into PSA
Successor Talbot, a brand of PSA
Founded 1934
Founder(s) Henri Théodore Pigozzi
Defunct 1970 taken over by Chrysler,
1979 by PSA
Headquarters France
Industry Automotive
Products Simca Aronde, Simca Vedette, Simca 1000, Simca 1100, Simca 1300/1500, Simca 1307
Parent Chrysler Europe
Simca Rallye 2

Simca was a French automaker and marque, founded in 1934 by Henri Théodore Pigozzi (1898-1964). Simca was originally affiliated with Fiat, but later, after a period of independence, when Simca bought Ford's French branch, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group, in 1970 becoming a part of Chrysler Europe and a brand rather than independent company. In 1978, Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën, which replaced the Simca brand with Talbot, thus ending the life of the brand (although some models were badged as Simca-Talbots for a time).

During most of its post-war activity, Simca was one of the biggest automobile manufacturers and most popular automobile brands in France. The Simca 1100 was for some time the best-selling car in France, while the Simca 1307 and Simca Horizon won the coveted European Car of the Year titles in 1976 and 1978, respectively. Simca vehicles were also manufactured by Simca do Brasil in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil and Barreiros (another Chrysler subsidiary) in Spain, and also assembled in Chile, Colombia and the Netherlands [1] during the Chrysler era.

Contents

The beginnings

The founder of Simca, Henri Théodore Pigozzi (born Teodoro Enrico Pigozzi) was active in the automotive business in the early 1920s when he met Fiat founder, Giovanni Agnelli. They began business together in 1922 with Pigozzi acting as a scrap merchant, buying old automobile bodies and sending them to Fiat for recycling.[2] Two years later Pigozzi became Fiat's General Agent in France, and in 1926 SAFAF (Société Anonyme Français des Automobiles Fiat) was founded. In 1928, SAFAF started the assembly of Fiat cars in Suresnes near Paris, and licensed the production of some parts to local suppliers. By 1934, as many as 30,000 Fiat cars were sold by SAFAF.[3]

SIMCA

The SIMCA (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile) company was founded in 1935 when Henri Pigozzi bought the former Donnet factory in the French town of Nanterre.[2]

The first cars produced were Fiat 508 Balilla and Fiat 518 Ardita but carried Simca-Fiat 6CV and 11CV badges. This was followed in 1936 by the Simca Cinq or 5CV a version of the Fiat Topolino and in 1937 by the Huit or 8CV version of the Fiat 508C-1100. Production of the 6CV and 11CV stopped in 1937 leaving the 5CV and the 8CV in production until the outbreak of World War II. Despite France's being occupied during the war, Simca cars continued to be produced in small numbers throughout the conflict.

With peace, production resumed in 1946 with the pre-war Cinq (5CV) and Huit (8CV) but a new car arrived in 1948 with the Simca 6 with overhead valve 570 cc engine ahead of the equivalent Fiat.

The Aronde and Ford SAF takeover

The Simca Aronde, launched in 1951, was the first true Simca car as opposed to a Fiat design. It had a 1200 cc engine and its production reached 100,000 units yearly. Following this success, Simca took over the French truck manufacturers Unic in 1951, and Saurer in 1956, the Poissy plant of Ford SAF in 1954. The Poissy plant came with ample room for expansion, which duly took place so that Simca production in France was focused on a single plant, permitting the old Nanterre plant to be sold in 1961.[4]

The Ford purchase also recruited the V-8 powered Ford Vedette range to the Simca stable. This model continued to be made and progressively upgraded, but now with Simca badges and various names until 1962 in France and 1967 in Brazil. An Aronde powered version was also made in 1957 and called the Ariane which because of its economy combined with a large body was popular as a taxi.

In 1958 Simca bought the Talbot brand from Talbot-Lago.

Chrysler buys in and then gains control

In 1958 the American car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation, which wanted to enter the European car market, bought 15% of the Simca stocks from Ford in a deal which Henry Ford II was later reported as having publicly regretted.[4] At this stage, however, the dominant shareholder remained Fiat, and their influence is apparent in the engineering and design of Simcas of that period such as the 1000 and 1300 models introduced respectively in 1961 and 1963.[4] However, in 1963 Chrysler increased their stake to a controlling 64% by purchasing stock from Fiat,[2] and they subsequently extended that holding further to 77%.[4] Even in 1971 Fiat retained a 19% holding, but by now they had long ceased to play an active role in the business.[4]

Also, in 1964 Chrysler bought the British manufacturer Rootes thus putting together the basis of Chrysler Europe.[2] All the Simca models manufactured after 1967 had the Chrysler pentastar logo as well as Simca badging. In 1961 Simca started to manufacture all of its models in the ex-Ford SAF factory in Poissy and sold the factory at Nanterre to Citroën. The rear-engined Simca 1000 was introduced in 1961 with its sporting offspring, the Simca-Abarth in 1963. The 1000 also served as the platform for the 1000 Coupe, a handsome sports coupe sporting a Bertone-designed body by Giorgetto Giugiaro and 4-wheel disc brakes. It debuted in 1963 and was described by Car Magazine as "the world's neatest small coupe". 1967 saw the more powerful 1200S Bertone Coupe that, with a horsepower upgrade in 1970, could reach the dizzying speed of almost 112 mph (180 km/h), making it the fastest standard production Simca ever built.[5] In 1967 a much more up to date car, the 1100, appeared with front wheel drive and independent suspension all round, and continued in production until 1979. On 1 July 1970 the company title was formally changed to Chrysler France.

The collapse of Chrysler Europe

The most successful pre-Chrysler Simca models were the Aronde, the Simca 1000 and the front engined 1100 compact car. During the late 1970s Chrysler era, Simca produced the new 160/180 saloon, 1307 range (Chrysler Alpine in the UK) and later the Horizon (Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon in the USA), both of which were European Car of the Year on their launch. However, Chrysler's forced marriage of Simca and Rootes was not a happy one, and Chrysler Europe collapsed in 1977 and the remains were sold to Peugeot the following year. The Rootes models were quickly killed off, and the Simca-based Alpine / 1307 and Horizon soldiered on through the first half of the 1980s using the resurrected Talbot badge. The last car to carry the Simca badge was the 1980 Solara, a 1307 with a boot, but by 1981 this had become a Talbot, thus axing the Simca marque entirely.

Afterlife

Peugeot eventually grew tired of the Talbot brand, and the last Simca design was launched as Peugeot 309 (instead of Talbot Arizona as had been originally planned), and this was the end of this French brand. The Peugeot 309 used Simca engines until October 1991 when they were replaced by PSA's own TU and XU series of engines. The 309 was produced at the former Rootes factory in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, UK as well as in the Poissy plant.

Simcas can still be seen on the road in several European countries and were also manufactured in Brazil, Spain and Finland.

The last Simca-based car to cease production was the Horizon-based Dodge Omni, which was built in the USA until 1990.

Models

References

  1. ^ Welkom op Simca en Nekaf site!
  2. ^ a b c d Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.  
  3. ^ "Simca history". Histomobile. http://www.histomobile.com/histomob/internet/26/histo02.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-25.  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Simca - Chrysler with French dressing". Motor nbr 3598: pages 24 - 25. date 19 June 1971.  
  5. ^ SIMCA 1000 COUPE, SIMCA 1200S COUPE

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