What was it that made the 1950’s Simca Aronde P60 so successful? Was it their highpowered Rush-engine? Was it the French comfort? Or was it the American styling?
Probably it was all of that.
Of all the French carmakers, Simca was the least French. After all, they built Fiat models under license during the 1930’s until the early 1950’s.
The Simca company was even founded by an Italian, Henri Pigozzi, who managed it from 1935 to 1963.
It was his idea in 1954 to take over the Ford factory in Poissy, including the new Vedette-model that Ford had developed.
And in 1958, Chrysler became a shareholder at Simca, even getting a majority share in 1963.
1951: the Aronde
So there were lots of foreign influences in the French Simca-company.
In 1951 they shook off their Fiat legacy and introduced a completely new car, a real Simca: the Aronde.
This fourdoor sedan had a 1,200 cc four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels.
The styling of the car was modern, with a ponton-body and even little tailfins.
It became an instant hit, and soon Simca developed all sorts of different versions: a hardtop coupé, stationwagon, delivery van and several levels of luxury.
Also in that aspect, Simca resembled the American auto-industry.
In 1958 the last version of the Aronde was introduced, the P60.
The curves of its predecessor were replaced by crisp lines, the windows were large and the use of two-tone colour schemes and lots of chrome gave the car an expensive, luxurious appearance.
Again, different bodystyles and luxury levels were available, all using different and very French names: Grand Large, Monthléry, Chatelaine etc.
This Aronde staid in production until 1964, when it was superceded by the completely new Simca 1300 and 1500.
No Mister Simca
So many Arondes have been built that there are still quite a few left.
But the problem with Simca is that the image of the brand is that of bread-and-butter cars.
Brands like Citroën or for instance Borgward, are backed by the memory of a person, a passionate constructor.
André Citroën gave everything he had for his carfactory, and so did Carl Borgward, Henry Ford and Louis Renault.
But there is no Mister Simca. Sure, Henri Théodore Pigozzi was the man who built Simca. But he created it as a way to make a living, he was a car dealer, not a passionate designer.
He did not develop the cars himself, but he used expertise from Fiat, Ford and Chrysler to design his products.
So that is what Simca’s are looked at by most people: as industrial products.
Not as pieces of art that were developed by passionate carguys.
But still, Simca’s are great cars.
Because they were sold (and produced) all over the world, many thousands of people have fond memories of Simca’s.
And besides that, they were also well designed, smart looking cars.
Bang for your buck
So when you go buy a classic car, have a look at this Aronde P60 for instance. It is being offered for sale in Belgium.
The car dates from 1962, it has the 1,300 cc Rush-engine and it has been restored in the recent past. The pain is fairly new and the car seems to be in good running order.
Back in the day, Simca’s were very successful because they offered a lot of bang for your buck.
In that aspect, nothing has changed.
Because, where else can you find a 57-year old four-door saloon car of such quality for only EUR 5,500??
That can only be a Simca!