Corgi # 315 - Simca 1000 Coupé
Corgi introduced the vacuum-plated Simca 1000 in April 1964 and kept it in the range for two years, retiring the casting in 1966. The Great Book of Corgi only lists the silver plated finish but in some price guides a dark metallic blue version is listed at a good price premium over the plated car.
The Simca Coupé 1000 and its successor, the Simca 1200S are small, rear-engine two-door coupés produced by Simca between 1962 and 1971. Simca also provided the engine and the mechanical underpinnings while the small elegant bodies were built in Turin by Bertone before being transferred for final assembly to Simca’s Poissy plant on specially configured trains.
The change of name in 1967 marked a major upgrade that included the installation of a more powerful engine and styling adjustments enforced by moving the radiator from the rear to the front of the car. This improved weight distribution, but the engine itself remained at the back.
Origins and Launch
The Simca 1000 saloon was launched in France in October 1961 and was an instant success with French buyers, but the response in export markets was much more muted. The new management at Simca were keen to raise the profile of their new car internationally. Mindful of the precedent set by Renault with their Renault Floride, Simca turned initially to Facel to discuss a joint project with Facel producing the bodies, but in the judgement of Henri Pigozzi, Simca’s aging but still unusually “hands on” boss, Facel’s proposal lacked the necessary style and was considered unrealistic: there were also concerns that Facel’s perilous financial position might impact the project adversely. Simca then turned to Bertone and commissioned a coupe version of their new car. Bertone gave the job to a recently recruited young designer called Giorgetto Giugiaro and the car, having already been heavily trailed, was formally launched at the Geneva Motor Show early in 1962, though official French homologation for production only took place in November 1962. Customer deliveries began in 1963. The style of the car was widely admired, but the cost of the Bertone built body made it difficult for the car to compete on price alone, while use of the standard 944cc engine block from the Simca 1000 meant that performance was unlikely to live up to its racy styling. From the start Simca presented the Coupé 1000 as a separate model.
Despite sharing its chassis and mechanical elements with the boxy Simca 1000 saloon, the Coupé was able to offer superior road holding and performance because its centre of gravity was lower and its shape more aerodynamic.
Between the car’s appearance at the Swiss motor show in March 1962 and customer deliveries, the front side lights moved from a position beside the headlights, integrated into the front wings, to a location directly above the front bumper. It is not clear whether this was a response to regulatory requirements or simply a change driven by production-cost considerations.
On the inside the interior fittings contrasted with the stark interior of the Simca 1000 saloon, and the generous display of gauges and switches on the dashboard was also a world away from the aggressively plain view from the driver’s seat through the steering wheel on the four-door car.
In its original form the Simca was thought in the 1960s to resembled the cheaper Fiat 850 Coupé, although that car was launched only in 1965. In the French market, where the great majority of the cars would be sold, the Simca Coupé 1000 was pitched squarely against the Renault Floride.
The water-cooled 4-cylinder 944 cc engine shared its dimensions and basic layout with the engine fitted in the saloon, but from the start the Coupé engine featured a higher compression ratio and provided a maximum 52hp of claimed output (as against 45hp in the saloon). A maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) was listed (as against 125 km/h (78 mph) for the saloon). Stopping power was also better on the Coupé which, unusually at this time, featured disc brakes on all four wheels.
During the early years the car experienced modest success on the French market, especially among young affluent buyers. Between the 1962 launch and the 1967 upgrade approximately 10,600 were produced.