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The Simca 1000 was a small, rear-engined, four-door saloon manufactured by the French automaker Simca from 1961 to 1978.

The launch

The car was inexpensive and, at the time of launch, quite modern, with a brand-new inline-4 watercooled engine of (at this stage) 944cc. Production began on 27 July 1961, with the official launch taking place at the Paris Motor Show on 10 October 1961.

At the time of the launch, cars could be ordered in one of three colours (red/rouge tison, egg-shell blue/bleu pervenche or off-white/gris-princesse). However, the show stand featured two additional body colours and the range of colours available to customers was soon expanded. The company's marketing strategy was characteristically imaginitive, and having acquired a Paris taxi business in 1958, in November 1961 Simca replaced 50 of that company's Simca Ariane based taxis with 50 much smaller (but evidently spacious enough for the relatively short journeys normally undertaken by taxi) Simca 1000s: thus the stylish little car, often with iconic Paris landmarks in the background, quickly became a familiar sight on the capital's roads. Pictures of Simca 1000s working as Paris taxis turned up in the press. It was nevertheless made clear that this was not a permanent change and after a few months the red and black Simca 1000 taxis were removed from circulation and replaced with more conventionally sized taxis.

The car

Use of the RR layout was a first for Simca, although leading auto-makers in France and Germany had been applying it to mainstream small cars for more than a decade. In addition to the rear engine, the fuel tank of the Simca 1000 was located in the rear, behind the rear passenger seat. This gave the car a 35/65 front/rear weight distribution, with an extremely light and nimble front end and a responsive oversteer on curvy roads.

The interior was considered "surprisingly" spacious for this class of car, with plenty of space for four, although the luggage locker under the front hood/bonnet offered only limited space: unlike the similarly configured competitor Renault Dauphine and Renault 8 which stowed their spare wheels flat underneath the front luggage locker, the Simca 1000 had its spare wheel stowed vertically in the front luggage compartment, just behind the front bumper. The driver enjoyed an excellent view out: the speedometer pod and minor controls positioned ahead of the driver were basic, although the manufacturer stressed that the glass covering the speedometer was angled to minimize reflections.

Evolution

Over the course of time, the 1000 (whose name was pronounced "mille" in French) was available in a number of versions featuring different equipment levels and variations of the original Type 315 engine. The low-specification version was sold as Simca 900, and it was later replaced by Simca 4 CV (also marketed as Sim'4), powered by a 0.8 litre unit. On the other end of the range, the 1.1 L version from the larger Simca 1100 was added in 1969 (the Simca 1000 was marketed in the USA as Simca 1118). Finally, the 1.3 L version, used in the biggest Simca, the 1300, made its way to the little 1000 in the early 1970s.

Apart from the standard manual transmission, some versions could be fitted with a three-speed semiautomatic developed by Ferodo.

Quite interestingly, the high-specification versions were offered in the British market with a walnut dashboard decor. In 1977, the model was revised for the last time, gaining the new names of 1005/1006 (depending on the specifications), to put it in line with the newer Simca 1307 and its derivatives. Production stopped in 1978 without a direct replacement.

Commercial

The Simca 1000 became a popular car in France, and to some extent also in export markets. During 1962, its first full year of production, the manufacturer produced 154,282. The achievement was the more impressive because Simca and its dealers had no recent experience of selling small cars, so apart from first time buyers and customers trading down, all the little car's buyers had to be lured away from competitor manufacturers. As a comparison, France's top seller for 1962 in this class was the Renault Dauphine which had been able to build on more than a decade of class leading sales by the Renault 4CV. Renault produced (including the sporty Ondine versions) 266,767 Dauphine's in 1962. The other major competitor in this segment was Citroën whose Ami model managed 85,358 units in 1962 which for the Ami, as for the little Simca, was the first full year of production. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s the Simca 1000 would continue to appear well up the rankings in the French sales charts, with annual sales remaining above 100,000 without a break until 1974. In its 17 years of production, almost 2 million were sold.

The Simca-Abarth (1964-66) and Simca 1000 Rallye

In the model's early years, the Italian tuner Abarth was offering modified versions of the 1000, and later Simca itself began offering a "Rallye" version, which helped boost the model's popularity in the motorsport community. The Rallye was followed by the Rallye 1, the Rallye 2 and the Rallye 3.

  • Simca-Abarth 1150 - 1137 cc - 55 PS (40 kW; 54 hp) 5600 rpm - disk brakes - 11000 F
  • Simca-Abarth 1150 S - 1137 cc - 58 metric horsepower (43 kW; 57 hp) 5600 rpm - disk brakes
  • Simca-Abarth 1150 SS - 1137 cc - 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) 5600 rpm - disk brakes - Option : six speed gear box

Simca-Abarth 1150 SS - 1137 cc - 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) 5600 rpm - disk brakes - Option : six speed gear box