DELAGE Cars 1905 – 1953 Levallois-Perret, France


Founded 1905
Founder Louis Delage
Defunct 1953
Headquarters Levallois-Perret, France
Products Cars
Delage D8-120

Delage was a French luxury automobile and racecar company founded in 1905 by Louis Delage in Levallois-Perret near Paris; it was acquired by Delahaye in 1935 and ceased operation in 1953.

Early history

The company was founded in 1905 by Louis Delage, who borrowed Fr 35,000, giving up a salary of Fr 600 a month to do so.

Its first location was on the Rue Cormeilles in Levallois-Perret. The company at first had just two lathes and three employees, one of them Peugeot‘s former chief designer. Delage initially produced parts for Helbé, with the De Dion-Bouton engine and chassis assembled by Helbé; Delage added only the body.

The first model was the Type A, a voiturette which appeared in 1906. It was powered by a one-cylinder De Dion-Bouton of 4.5 or 9 hp (3.4 or 6.7 kW; 4.6 or 9.1 PS). Like other early carmakers, Delage participated in motor racing, entering the Coupe de Voiturettes held at Rambouillet in November 1906 with a 9 hp (6.7 kW; 9.1 PS) racer. Seven days of regularity trials decided the entrants, and one of the two 9 hp (6.7 kW; 9.1 PS) Delage specials was wrecked in the rain on the fifth; nevertheless, Ménard, the other works driver, came second in the event, behind a Sizaire-Naudin.

In 1907 the factory moved to the Rue Baudin Levallois, where a 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) workshop allowed it to grow. The two-cylinder Delages were no match for the competition this year at the Coupe des Voiturettes.

In 1908, the success enabled the development of the factory and entry into more Grand Prix races. That year, racing success returned: Delage won the Grand Prix des Voiturettes held 6 July. This event, six laps of the 47.74 mi (76.83 km) Dieppe Grand Prix circuit, saw 47 starters. Delage fielded three cars: a pair with 1,242 cc (75.8 cu in) (78 by 130 mm (3.1 by 5.1 in)) De Dion-Bouton twins, driven by Thomas and Lucas-Bonnard, and a radical 28 hp (21 kW; 28 PS) 1,257 cc (76.7 cu in) (100 by 160 mm (3.9 by 6.3 in)) one-cylinder (built by Nemorin Causan) in the hands of Delage dealer Albert Guyot. Guyot won at an average 49.8 mph (80.1 km/h), not needing to stop for fuel. All three Delages finished this time, Thomas the quickest of the two-cylinder cars, while the team also took home the regularity prize. These good results contributed to total sales exceeding 300 cars for the year.

Delage converted to four-cylinder engines in 1909, at first provided by De Dion and Edouard Ballot; shortly, the company were producing their own sidevalve fours, too.

After an increase in sales, the existing facilities were too small, so in 1910 the factory moved to a new facility at 138 Boulevard de Verdun, Courbevoie. The following year saw the creation of advanced bodywork. By 1912, 350 workers were producing over 1000 cars annually, and offered four- and six-cylinder sidevalve engines.

During the First World War, Delage produced munitions. Production of passenger cars virtually stopped, with the exception of some fabrication for the Army. But the Delage factories were running full support for the war effort.

When the war concluded, Delage moved away from small cars and made its reputation with larger cars. First up was the CO, with a 4,524 cc (276.1 cu in) (80 by 150 mm (3.1 by 5.9 in)) fixed-head sidevalve six producing 20 hp. The CO plans had been drawn up during the conflict; this was the first passenger car with front brakes. It was joined by the DO with a 3-liter four.

The 1920s were really the first “Golden Age” of Delage. The most famous were the DE and DI: 4 cylinders of about 2 liters and 11 hp. Delage also attempted to compete with Hispano-Suiza, with the GL of 30 hp and 5954 cc, with some success. After that came a new generation of six-cylinder cars, like the MD (3174 cc) and DR (2516 cc), the best-selling vehicle in the history of the brand, designed by engineer Gaultier.

Both the CO and DO were replaced in 1922. The CO became the CO2, which changed to an overhead valve twin-plug head, producing 88 hp (66 kW; 89 PS), while the DO was supplanted by the DE with a 2,117 cc (129.2 cu in) (72 by 130 mm (2.8 by 5.1 in)) sidevalve four and, unusual in a production car even in this era, four-wheel brakes. The CO2 completed the Paris-Nice run in 16 hours, an average of 67 km/h (42 mph).

The next year, the new 14 hp (10 kW; 14 PS) DI also switched to OHV with a 2,121 cc (129.4 cu in) (75 by 120 mm (3.0 by 4.7 in)) four, fitted with magneto ignition and thermosyphon cooling; all had four-speed gearboxes and Zenith carburettors. At the other end of the scale, the GL (Grand Luxe), also known as the 40/50, replaced the CO2, being fitted with a magneto-fired 5,344 cc (326.1 cu in) (90 by 140 mm (3.5 by 5.5 in)) overhead cam six.

In 1923, a hillclimb car with DI chassis, larger wheels and tires, and 5,107 cc (311.6 cu in) (85 by 150 mm (3.3 by 5.9 in)) CO block (with three Zenith carburetors) was produced. Delage scored successes at La Turbie and Mont Ventoux. This car was joined by a 10,688 cc (652.2 cu in) (90 by 140 mm (3.5 by 5.5 in)) V12, which broke the course record at the Gaillon hillclimb, with Thomas at the wheel. Thomas would set the land speed record at Arpajon in this car, at a speed of 143.24 mph (230.52 km/h), in 1924. A 1925 car had a 5,954 cc (363.3 cu in) (95 by 140 mm (3.7 by 5.5 in)) six, again using the GL block, with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead cams. Driven by Divo, it broke the Mont Ventoux course record in its debut. It would be destroyed by fire at the Phoenix Park meet in 1934.

The 1924 and 1925 DIS, with a 117 in (3,000 mm) wheelbase, switched from Rolls-Royce-type locking wheel hubs to Rudge knock-ons, better cam, and bigger valves, while the 1925 and 1926 DISS on the same wheelbase. Some of the DISes were bodied by Kelsch. The DIS became the Series 6 in 1927, switching to coil ignition and water pump.

In 1926, Delage introduced the DM, with a 3,182 cc (194.2 cu in) (75 by 120 mm (3.0 by 4.7 in)) six, which made it emblematic of the era for the marque. The high-performance DMS had hotter cam, twin valve springs, and other improvements. A DR, with a choice of 2.2- and 2.5-liter sidevalve engines, also briefly appeared.


Delage entered the 1911 Coupe de l’Auto at Boulogne with a 50 hp (37 kW; 51 PS) 2,996 cc (182.8 cu in) (80 by 149 mm (3.1 by 5.9 in)) four with two 60 mm (2.4 in)-diameter bellcrank-operated valves per cylinder controlled by camshafts in the crankcase. The five-speed gearbox gave a top speed of 60 mph (97 km/h), and the four voiturettes each carried 26 imp gal (120 l; 31 US gal), as the factory planned for a no-stop race. Works driver Paul Bablot won, at an average 55.2 mph (88.8 km/h), with a 1m 11s over Boillot’s Peugeot, followed home by Thomas in a second Delage; Delage also took the team prize.

Delage would move up to Grand Prix racing in 1912, with a Léon Michelat-designed car powered by a four-valve 6,235 cc (380.5 cu in) (105 by 180 mm (4.1 by 7.1 in)) four-cylinder of 118 hp (88 kW; 120 PS), coupled again to a five-speed gearbox and fitted this time with 43 imp gal (200 l; 52 US gal). Three cars were built for the 569 mi (916 km) Amiens Grand Prix, though only two, Bablot’s and Guyot’s, actually entered. On the day, Bablot’s Delage proved the fastest car in the field, turning in a lap at 76.6 mph (123.3 km/h), but it was Guyot who would fall out of the lead with a puncture, and the race went to Peugeot, while the Delages were fourth and fifth. At the French Grand Prix, Delage put Bablot first, Guyot second, ahead of Pilette’s 1908 Mercedes GP car, Salzer in a Mercedes, with Duray coming in fifth in the third Delage.

In 1913, the new type Y set the fasted lap time at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, and in 1914, this same car won the 1914 Indianapolis 500 with René Thomas at the wheel. Thomas, Guyot, and Duray would return to the French Grand Prix with 4½-liter twin-cam desmodromic valved racers featuring twin carburettors, five-speed gearbox, and four-wheel brakes. While quick, they proved unreliable; only one finished, Duray’s, in eighth.

In 1914, Delage emphasized its focus on competition by creating the type O Lyon Grand Prix, while at the same time moving towards the luxury car market with 6 cylinders of a large class. However, racing was severely curtailed during World War One.

Delage D6

In 1923 Louis Delage returned to competition with the innovative 12-cylinder 2-liter type 2 LCV. This car won the 1924 European Grand Prix in Lyon and the 1925 Grand Prix of ACF Montlhéry. The 12-cylinder DH (10,5 liters) of 1924 beat the world speed record on the highway, at 230 km/h (143 mph). A Delage 155 B won the first Grand Prix of Great-Britain in 1926, driven by Louis Wagner and Robert Senechal. The production of cars continued with the DI and the DI S SS. The DM evolved into the DMS and DML, equipped with a 6-cylinder 3-liter engine designed by Maurice Gaultier.

Delage’s Grand Prix effort saw a Plancton-designed 1,984 cc (121.1 cu in) (51.3 by 80 mm (2.02 by 3.15 in)) four overhead cam V12. The 110 hp (82 kW; 110 PS) car, driven by Thomas, fell out of the French Grand Prix in 1923, but went on to perform well for the bulk of the 1923 and 1924 season. With supercharger added in 1925, bringing output to 195 hp (145 kW; 198 PS), it won at Montlhéry and Lasarteproving as fast as the Alfa Romeo P2, but rarely racing it directly. This car was supplanted in 1926 by a Lory-designed supercharged 1.5-liter twincam straight eight of 170 hp (130 kW; 170 PS); capable of 130 mph (210 km/h), it was the company’s last Grand Prix entrant.

A Delage supercharged straight-8 racing engine

Always passionate about racing, Louis Delage designed an 8-cylinder 1500 cc, the type 15 S 8. This car won four European Grands Prix races in 1927, and won Delage the title “World Champion of Car Builders” that same year.

A 2,988 cc (182.3 cu in)-powered D6 won the 1938 Tourist Trophy at Donington Park and came second at Le Mans. A single V12-powered car, intended for Le Mans, tragically caught fire at the 1938 International Trophy at Brooklands.

Postwar, the best results Delage had were seconds at the 1949 Le Mans and 1950 Paris Grand Prix.

The D6 and the D8: The Classic Era

1930 saw the launch of the 6-cylinder Delage D6 which would form the mainstay of the manufacturer’s passenger car range until 1954.

For 1930 Maurice Gaultier designed an 8-cylinder in-line 4,061 cc, evolving the type D8 into the type D8 S (S for Sport).

1939 Delage D8

The D8 was the pinnacle of the marque. It was offered in three wheelbases, “S” or “C” at 130 in (3,300 mm), “N” at 140 in (3,600 mm), and “L” at 143 in (3,600 mm), all powered by a 4,061 cc (247.8 cu in) (77 by 109 mm (3.0 by 4.3 in)) straight eight, making it capable of 85 mph (137 km/h). Delage followed in 1932 with the Grand Sport, on a 123 in (3,100 mm) 130 in (3,300 mm) in 1934) wheelbase, capable of 100 mph (160 km/h).

But the backlash of the economic crisis of 1929 arrived and manufacturers of luxury cars all over the world suffered from poor sales. The commercial and financial situation of the firm was badly shaken. In 1932 Delage introduced the type D6-11 (6-cylinder 2101 cc), and two years later the new eight-cylinder Delage, type D8-15 (2768 cc). These two models, equipped with independent front wheel suspension did not increase sale figures. The transverse leaf and wishbone independent front suspension was licensed by Studebaker for their cars.

The junior D6s shared Delahaye front suspension design, but had hydraulic rather than Delahaye cable-actuated brakes, also shared the Cotal gearbox with the D8. The D6/70 of 1936 was powered by a 2,729 cc (166.5 cu in) (80 by 90.5 mm (3.15 by 3.56 in)) six, the 1938 D6/75 a 2.8-liter six, and the postwar D8/3L Olympic a 3-liter six. At the bottom of the range was a 1.5-liter four that lasted until 1936.

Financial pressures never disappeared, however, and during the Spring of 1932 Louis Delage was obliged to take out a 25 Million franc loan in order to finance the tooling needed to put the D6 into production. It was at this time that he also entered into negotiations with Peugeot about using their dealership and service network. These negotiations went nowhere, and discussions with other possible partners/rescuers also came to nothing. There were also personal problems involving his marriage which necessitated a rearrangement of Delage’s personal finances, although in the event it was the sale of his expensive home in the Champs-Élysées that reduced the pressure on his finances if only in the short term.

The last models to emerge from the factory in Courbevoie were the types D6-65, D8-85 and D8-105, designed by engineer Michelat. On 20 April 1935 the factory in Courbevoie went into voluntary liquidation.

But Louis Delage would not admit defeat, and with the help of a businessman called Walter Watney created the Société Nouvelle des Automobiles Delage (SAFAD), to market Delage cars, assembled from production Delahayes. This union created the 4-cylinder DI 12 and the D8 120, and also the 6-cylinder D6 70. Watney had taken control as president of SAFAD, but he was a British national and in June 1940 he was obliged to leave Paris as the German Army arrived. Watney stayed in France, at his villa in Beaulieu, until the end of 1942 after the Germans had completed their occupation, but already in December 1940 the presidency of the SAFAD business had passed directly into the control of Delahaye. In any event, since the outbreak of the war Delage had been largely inactive, although they did undertake work on a project to replace the six-cylinder engine of the Hotchkiss H39 tank with the more powerful 8-cylinder unit from the Delage D8 120.

Racing aero-engines

Delage produced at least two types of racing aero-engine during the early 1930s. The Delage 12 CED was fitted to the Kellner-Béchereau 28VD racing aircraft, intended to compete in the 1933 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe air race. Unfortunately the aircraft crashed during qualification trials for the race on 12 May 1933. The second engine type, the Delage 12 GV, remains a mystery, with very little information available.

After the Second World War

A large prototype Delage D-180 limousine appeared at the 1946 Paris Motor Show but there were evidently no further developments on this project and by the next year the big prototype had quietly disappeared. At the 1947 Paris Motor Show only a single model was exhibited as the business focused on its six-cylinder 3-litre Delage D6 which in most respects will have been familiar to anyone who had known the 3-litre Delages of the 1930s. The car was offered with bodies by firms such as Chapron, Letourner & Marchand and Guilloré. A variety of coupe and cabriolet bodied D6s were produced. In addition, both Guilloré and Chapron produced a large saloon/sedan body. The two were remarkably similar, both being six-light four-door cars with conservative 1930s style shapes. Something else the two had in common was unexpectedly narrow rear doors, enforced by the combination of a long body, a long rear overhang and a relatively short wheelbase provided by the D6 chassis. A longer wheelbase 1952 special version, bodied by Guilloré, was owned by National Assembly president Edouard Herriot.

Nevertheless, these were difficult times for luxury auto-makers in France and by now the company’s registered head office was the same as that for Delahaye: production statistics from the period group Delage and Delahaye together. Louis Delâge himself, who had lived in poverty and quasi-monastic isolation since bankruptcy in 1935 had enforced the transfer of his company to Delahaye, died in December 1947, and during the next few years any residual autonomy that the business had enjoyed disappeared. Increases in motoring taxes, most notably in 1948 and most savagely targeting cars with engines of above 2 litres, combined with the depressed economic conditions of post-war France to create a difficult market for luxury car manufacturers. In 1950 Delahaye produced 235 cars which will have included a significant number of Delages. In 1951 the combined production figure for the two brands slumped to 77: in 1952 it was down to 41. In 1953 Delage production ended.

Delage was absorbed into Hotchkiss along with Delahaye in 1954, and car manufacturing ended.


1920 Delage (type S) CO 4 ½ litre Salamanca (1918, 6 cyl, 4,524 cc)

1924 Delage Di(1920, 2,121 cc)

1920-delage-type-co2-22d181v-dual-cowl-tourer Delage CO2 (1921)

Delage 2 LCV (1923, 12 cyl, 2L)

Delage GL (5,954 cc)

Delage DE

Delage DH (12 cyl DH, 10,5L)

Delage DI S

Delage DI SS

Delage DMS (6 cyl, 3L)

Delage DML (6 cyl, 3L)

Scuderia Giddings black 1927
Delage. Beautiful 1500cc twin cam straight eight, blown alloy engine created almost 200 horse power.

Delage 15 S 8 (8 cyl, 1,500 cc)

1924 Delage GL Labourdett DV-08

Delage GL (5,954 cc)

Delage DM (6 cyl, 3,174 cc)

Delage DR (6 cyl, 2,516 cc)

Delage D4 (4 cyl, 1,480 cc)

Delage D6-11 (6 cyl, 2,101 cc)

Delage D8-15 (2,768 cc)

Delage D6-65

1935 Delage D8-85

Delage D8

Delage D8 S (8 cyl, 4,061 cc)

Delage D8-105

1926 Delage DI Torpedo 11CV 4Cyl

1936 Delage DI-12 Pillarless Saloon Delage DI 12 (4 cyl)

Delage D8 120

Delage D6 70 (6 cyl)

My personal collection, found on www:



Scuderia Giddings black 1927
Delage. Beautiful 1500cc twin cam straight eight, blown alloy engine created almost 200 horse power.

Delage DI 1926 All Weather Tourer. Launched in 1923 the Delage DI was given a 4-cylinder ohv 2120cc 30bhp engine
Delage DI 1926 Drophead Coupe



Delage op You Tube:

Production volumes

During their years of independence, Delage made almost 40,000 cars at their workshops in Levallois and Courbevoie. After Delage production was subsumed into the Delahaye operation, approximately another 2,000 Delage badged cars were manufactured between 1935 and 1940. With the post-war resumption of passenger car production, 330 Delage cars appear to have been produced by Delahaye between 1946 and 1953.

Sources and further reading

  1. Jump up^ Hull, Peter. “Delage: Speed and Elegance in the French Tradition”, in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 5, p.517.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Hull, p.517.
  3. Jump up^ Hull, p.517. One was de Dion powered, the other Aster-engined; it is unclear from Hull which was involved in this crash.
  4. Jump up^ It featured four spark plugs, four valves per cylinder, two flywheels, and thermosyphon cooling. Hull, p.518.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Hull, p.518.
  6. Jump up^ Hull, p.518-519.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Hull, p.519.
  8. Jump up^ Hull, p.520. It would later be famous at Brooklandsin the hands of John Cobb. In the 1970s, it was still campaigned in veteran and vintage racing by Johnty Williamson and Cecil Clutton.
  9. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Hull, p.520.
  10. Jump up^ Hull, p.519 caption.
  11. Jump up^ Powered by an experimental overhead cam six. Hull, p.518.
  12. Jump up^ Hull, p.520, says 1995cc, which is belied by the cylinder dimensions.
  13. Jump up^ Hull, p.520, says 4,050 cc (247 cu in) which is belied by the quoted cylinder dimensions.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1934 (salon [Paris, Oct] 1933). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 22: 30. 2002.
  15. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1940 – 46 (les années sans salon). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 26: 32. 2003.
  17. Jump up to:a b c d “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1948 (salon Paris oct 1947). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 7: 9. 1998.
  18. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1953 (salon Paris oct 1952). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 19: 22. 2000.
  19. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1954 (salon [Oct] 1953). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 24: 23. 2002.
  20. Jump up^ The chassis number range runs from 1 in 1905 to 39,100 in 1935.
  21. Jump up^ Chassis numbers 50,000 to 51,999.
  22. Jump up^ Chassis numbers 880,000 to 880,330.

Hull, Peter. “Delage: Speed and Elegance in the French Tradition”, in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles, Volume 5, pp. 517–520. London: Orbis, 1974.

External links

Les Amis de Delage, website of Delage-collectors

Delage World, web site maintained by collector Peter Jacobs

Continue reading “DELAGE Cars 1905 – 1953 Levallois-Perret, France”

SIMCA (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile) 1934 – 1979


Industry Automotive
Fate merged into Chrysler Europe, subsequently into PSA
Successor Talbot, a brand of PSA Peugeot Citroën
Founded 1934
Founder Henri Théodore Pigozzi
Defunct 1970 taken over by Chrysler,
1979 by PSA
Headquarters France
Products Simca Aronde, Simca ArianeSimca Vedette, Simca 1000Simca 1100, Simca 1300/1500, Simca 1307
Parent Chrysler Europe

1973 Simca 1000 GLSimca 1000 GL (1974)

Simca (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile) (Mechanical and Automotive Body Manufacturing Company) was a Frenchautomaker, founded in November 1934 by Fiat and directed from July 1935 to May 1963 by Italian Henri Théodore Pigozzi (born Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi, 1898–1964). Simca was affiliated with Fiat and then, after Simca bought Ford‘s French activities, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group. In 1970, Simca became a subsidiary and brand of Chrysler Europe, ending its period as an independent company. Simca disappeared in 1978, when Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën. PSA replaced the Simca brand with Talbot after a short period when some models were badged as Simca-Talbots.

During most of its post-war activity, Simca was one of the biggest automobile manufacturers 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 title in 1976 and 1978, respectively — these models were badge engineered as products of other marques in some countries. For instance the Simca 1307 was sold in Britain as the Chrysler Alpine, and the Horizon was also sold under the Chrysler brand.

Simca vehicles were also manufactured by Simca do Brasil in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, and Barreiros (another Chrysler subsidiary) in Spain. They were also assembled in Chile, Colombia and the Netherlands during the Chrysler era.


Henri Théodore 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. 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.


The SIMCA (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile) company was founded in 1935 by FIAT, when Fiat bought the former Donnet factory in the French town of Nanterre.

The first cars produced were Fiat 508 Balillas and Fiat 518 Arditas, but with Simca-Fiat 6CV and 11CV badges. They were followed during 1936 by the Simca Cinq or 5CV, a version of the Fiat Topolino announced in the Spring, but only available for sale from October 1936. The Huit, an 8CV version of the Fiat 508C-1100, appeared in 1937. Production of the 6CV and 11CV stopped in 1937, leaving the 5CV and the 8CV in production until the outbreak of World War II. The firm nevertheless remained closely connected with Fiat, and it was not until 1938 that the shortened name “Simca” replaced “Simca-Fiat”.

Of the businesses that emerged as France’s big four auto-makers after the war, Simca was unique in not suffering serious bomb damage to its plant. There were persistent suggestions that Henri Pigozzi‘s close personal relationship with the Agnelli family (which owned Fiat) and Fiat’s powerful political influence with the Mussolini government in Italy secured relatively favourable treatment for Simca during the years when France fell under the control of Italy’s powerful ally, Germany. Despite France being occupied, Simca cars continued to be produced in small numbers throughout the war.

Following the 1944 liberation, the company’s close association with Italy became an obvious liability in the feverish atmosphere of recrimination and new beginnings that swept France following four years of German occupation. Nevertheless, shortly after the liberation the Nanterre plant’s financial sustainability received a boost when Simca won a contract from the American army to repair large numbers of Jeep engines.

1946: a decisive year

On 3 January 1946 the new government’s five year plan for the automobile industry (remembered, without affection, as the Pons Plan) came into force. Government plans for Simca involved pushing it into a merger with various smaller companies such as Delahaye-Delage, Bernard, Laffly and Unic so as to create an automobile manufacturing combine to be called “Générale française automobile” (GFA). With half an eye on the Volkswagen project across the Rhine, the authorities determined that GFA should produce the two door version of the “AFG”, a small family car that had been developed during the war by the influential automobile engineer, Jean-Albert Grégoire. Grégoire owed his influence to a powerfully persuasive personality and a considerable engineering talent. Regarding the future of the French automobile industry, Grégoire held strong opinions, two of which favoured front-wheel drive and aluminium as a material for car bodies. A few weeks after the liberation Grégoire joined the Simca board as General Technical Director, in order to prepare for the production of the AFG at the company’s Nanterre factory.

For Simca, faced with a determinedly dirigiste left-wing French government, the prospect of nationalisation seemed very real. (Renault had already been confiscated and nationalised by the government at the start of 1945.) Simca’s long standing (but Italian born) Director General, Henri Pigozzi, was obliged to deploy his very considerable reserves of guile and charm in order to retain his own position within the company, and it appears that in the end Pigozzi owed his very survival at Simca to the intervention with the national politicians of his new board room colleague, Jean-Albert Grégoire. In return, Grégoire obtained the personal commitment of the surviving Director General to the production at Nanterre of his two-door AFG.

It is very easy to see how the two-door AFG looked, because its four door equivalent went into production, little changed from Grégoire’s prototype, as the Panhard Dyna X. It was a car designed by an engineer, and Pigozzi thought it ugly. In trying to make it more appealing to the style conscious car buyers who, it was hoped, would appear in Simca showrooms once the economy picked up and government restrictions or car ownership began to be relaxed, Simca designers took the underpinnings of the Grégoire prototype and clothed it with various more conventionally modern bodies, the last of which looked uncannily similar to a shortened Peugeot 203. This “Simca-Grégoire” performed satisfactorily in road tests in France and around Turin (home town of Fiat who still owned Simca), and by September 1946 the car was deemed ready for production. But Pigozzi was still cautious. He had little enthusiasm for the gratuitously unfathomable complexities involved in producing a mass-market front-wheel drive car. The experience of the Citroën Traction Avant, which had bankrupted its manufacturer in the mid-1930s, was not encouraging. Pigozzi therefore applied to the (at this stage still strongly interventionist) government for a far higher level of government subsidy than the government could contemplate. Both the “Simca-Grégoire” project and the government’s own enthusiasm for micro-managing the French automobile industry were by now running out of momentum. Sensing that there was no prospect of putting the “Simca-Grégoire” into production any time soon, General Technical Director Grégoire resigned from the company early in 1947.

Meanwhile, at the first Paris Motor Show since the end of the war, in October 1946, two models were on display on the Simca stand, being the Simca 5 and the Simca 8, at this stage barely distinguishable from their pre-war equivalents. A new car arrived in 1948 with the Simca 6, a development of the Simca 5 which it would eventually replace, and featuring an overhead valve 570 cc engine: the Simca 6 was launched ahead of the introduction of the equivalent Fiat.

The French economy in this period was in a precarious condition and government pressure was applied on the auto-makers to maximize export sales. During the first eight months of 1947, Simca exported 70% of cars produced, placing it behind Citroen (92% exported), Renault (90% exported), Peugeot (87% exported) and Ford France (83% exported). In the struggle to maximize exports, Simca was handicapped by the fact that it could not compete with its principal Italian shareholder, Fiat.

Aronde and Ford SAF takeover

1956 Simca ArondeSimca Aronde (1956)

The Simca Aronde, launched in 1951, was the first Simca model not based on 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, Saurer in 1956, and the Poissy plant of Ford SAF in 1954. The Poissy plant had ample room for expansion, enabling Simca to consolidate French production in a single plant and, in 1961, to sell the old Nanterre plant.

The 1950s was a decade of growth for Simca, and by 1959 the combined output of the plants at Nanterre and at Poissy had exceeded 225,000 cars, placing the manufacturer in second among French automakers in volume terms, ahead of Peugeot and Citroën, though still far behind market leader Renault.

The Ford purchase also added the V-8 powered Ford Vedette range to the Simca stable. This model continued to be produced and progressively upgraded until 1962 in France and 1967 in Brazil, but with various names under the Simca badge. An Aronde-powered version was also made in 1957 and called the Ariane which, because it was economical and had a large body, was popular as a taxi.

In 1958 Simca bought Talbot-Lago.


Main article: Simca do Brasil
1960 Simca Chambord Brazilian madeA Brazilian made Simca Chambord, used on the TV series “Vigilante Rodoviário” (1961-1962)

The Simca plant received a visit by Juscelino Kubitschek before his inauguration in 1956, organized by a Brazilian General who had a family member employed there. He jokingly invited Simca to build a plant in Minas Gerais, his home state. Simca followed through and sent a letter of intent to this effect. In the interim, Brazil had formed an Executive Group for the Automotive Industry (GEIA), which had established a set of requirements for any producer wishing to establish a plant in Brazil. Simca claimed that their proposal and arrangement with Kubitschek pre-dated these rules and lobbied for exceptions. Simca also lobbied directly in Minas, but in the end were forced to present their own proposal, which was accepted with a number of conditions. The delays in passing the GEIA rules meant that Simca, which established its first plant in São Paulo, was unable to access hard currency and suffered severe parts shortages as a result. Simca quickly developed a reputation for low quality which it was unable to shake.

Simca do Brasil was originally 50% Brazilian-owned, but after Chrysler took over Simca France in 1966 they also obtained control of the Brazilian arm. Simca remained based in Sāo Paulo for the entire time they were active in Brazil and never moved to Minas, as originally promised. Their range was built around the 2.4 liter V8-engined Simca Vedette, which entered production in Brazil in March 1959. It was built under a variety of names and in a number of different bodystyles, until the Simca badge was retired there in 1969. Later models were redesigned completely, and were sold as the Simca Esplanada.


1958 Simca Fulgur

The Simca Fulgur was a concept car designed in 1958 by Robert Opron for Simca and first displayed at the 1959 Geneva Auto Show. It was also displayed at the New York Auto Show, and the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. The concept car was intended to show what cars in the year 2000 would look like. It was to be atomic powered, voice controlled, guided by radar, and use only two wheels balanced by gyroscopes when driven at over 150 kph. Fulgur is Latin for flash or lightning. Another translation is lensman.


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. 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. However, in 1963 Chrysler increased their stake to a controlling 64% by purchasing stock from Fiat, and they subsequently extended that holding further to 77%. Even in 1971 Fiat retained a 19% holding, but by now they had long ceased to play an active role in the business.

Also, in 1964 Chrysler bought the British manufacturer Rootes thus putting together the basis of Chrysler Europe. 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. 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.

Collapse of Chrysler Europe

The most successful pre-Chrysler Simca models were the Aronde, the Simca 1000 and the front-engined 1100 compact. 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 named European Car of the Year at launch. However, Chrysler’s forced marriage of Simca and Rootes was not a happy one: 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 ending the Simca marque entirely.


Peugeot eventually abandoned the Talbot brand, and the last Simca design was launched as Peugeot 309 (instead of Talbot Arizona as had been originally planned). The Peugeot 309 used Simca engines until October 1991 (some 18 months before the end of production) 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, Colombia, Spain and Finland. The last Simca-based car produced was the Horizon-based Dodge Omni, which was built in the USA until 1990. The European equivalent had already been axed three years earlier when use of the Talbot name on passenger cars was finally discontinued.


Simca 5

Simca 5
1936 - 1948 Simca 5
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1936 – 1948
Assembly Nanterre, France
Body and chassis
Class Small car
Body style 2-door saloon
Layout FR layout
Related Fiat Topolino
Engine I4 570 cc
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,000 mm (78.7 in)
Length 3,220 mm (126.8 in)
Width 1,350 mm (53.1 in)
Height 1,400 mm (55.1 in)
Successor Simca 6

The Simca 5 is a small Franco-Italian passenger car designed, by Fiat engineers at Turin. It was produced and sold in France by Simca. It was virtually identical to the Fiat 500 Topolino on which it was based, but was first presented, at the company’s new Nanterre plant, three months ahead of the Fiat equivalent on 10 March 1936. Production was delayed, however, by a wave of strikes, that accompanied the June 1936 electoral victory of Léon Blum‘s Popular Front government. The manufacturer boasted at the time of its launch of being ahead of the “plans across the Rhine”: this was a reference to the already rumoured launch of the Volkswagen Beetle which would appear only in 1938.

Advanced features included independent front suspension, a four speed gear box, hydraulically controlled drum brakes on all four wheels and a twelve volt electrical system. The Simca 5 also offered exceptional fuel economy (in a test it managed to travel 110 kilometers on just 5 litres of fuel).

The car was originally intended for sale on the domestic market for less than 10,000 French Francs, an aspiration soon overtaken by a decline in the currency’s value that gathered pace in the second half of the 1930s. By the time of the 32nd Paris Motor Show in October 1938, the manufacturer’s listed price even for the base “standard” bodied car, was 13,980 francs. With an engine size that corresponded with the 3CV car tax band the Simca 5, along with its Fiat sibling, could be presented as the “smallest volume production car in the world”.

Production of the Simca 5 was slowed down (but did not ever cease entirely) by the war and the period of German occupation in the early 1940s, but resumed in 1946. 46,472 of the cars had been produced by the time the car was delisted by Simca in 1949. By now it had been replaced on the company’s production lines by the similar but partially reskinned and slightly more powerful Simca 6.

Simca 6

Simca 6
1947 - 1950 Simca 6
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1947 – 1950
Assembly Nanterre, France
Body and chassis
Class Small car
Body style 2-door saloon
light panel van
Layout FR layout
Related Fiat Topolino
Engine I4 570 cc
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,000 mm (78.7 in)
Length 3,220 mm (126.8 in)
Width 1,350 mm (53.1 in)
Height 1,400 mm (55.1 in)
Predecessor Simca 5
Successor Simca 8

The Simca 6 is a small budget priced passenger car produced and sold in France by Simca between 1947 and 1950. Simca had been established as a French subsidiary of Fiat and the Simca 6 was developed from the Simca 5 which itself had been a version of Fiat’s Topolino badged and manufactured in France as a Simca.

With the launch, at the 1947 Paris Motor Show, of the Simca 6, the company’s Nanterre based development office demonstrated a hitherto unseen level of independent thinking for a Simca production model. The Simca was distanced from its Fiat origins by a modified « Americanised » front end, featuring a widened and lowered front grill, flanked by raised headlights integrated into the wing panels, along the lines featured by the then newly introduced Peugeot 203 and Renault 4CV. The rear overhang was extended with the addition of a small boot/trunk, accessible only from the interior of the car and almost entirely filled by the spare wheel. In addition to the small two seater coupe style body, a small van capable of carrying up to 250 kg was available.

Claimed output from the 569 cm³ engine was boosted from 12 to 16.5 bhp achieved at 4,400 rpm. The engine employed overhead valves operated with a side-mounted camshaft. The light-weight 6 inherited its predecessor’s excellent fuel economy, with 5 litres of fuel propelling it over a distance of 108 km, equivalent to more than 61 mpg (UK gallons). The advertised maximum speed of 90 or 95 km/h (56 or 59 mph) also reflected the car’s light build, and was considered excellent for a car of this size and price.

In most respects, the principal mechanical elements followed conventional practice. The four speed gear box featured synchromesh on the top two ratios. Stopping power came from drum-brakes on all four wheels.

Despite having its first public presentation at the 1947 Motor Show, the car got off to a slow start, with just 11 produced during the closing month of 1947 and 191 during the whole of 1948:[1] during these years the older Simca 5 remained the company’s smaller volume model. However, in 1949 the Simca 6 fulfilled its manufacturer’s plans and replaced its predecessor. More than 16,000 Simca 6s were produced during its production run which came to an end in 1950: after this loyal Simca customers would need to upgrade to the larger (and far more commercially successful) Simca 8. Unlike its predecessor, the 6 was not seen as a commercial success, and it was not until 1961 that Simca would return to the small car sector (in French terms), with their Simca 1000.

By the time the Simca 6 production run ended, the Italian Fiat Topolino on which it was based had also been upgraded: The Topolino C, arriving two years later than the Simca 6, featured the upgraded mechanical components first seen on the Simca, as well as a modern square front grill; but the Fiat offering came without the American style chrome of the Simca, and the Fiat’s headlights were positioned at a lower level. In retrospect Italian sources tend to view the Simca 6 as a French version of the upgraded Fiat Topolino while French sources stress the independent development of the Simca.

Simca 8

Simca 8
1937 - 1951 Simca 8
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1937 – 1951
Assembly Nanterre, France
Body and chassis
Class Medium sized car
Body style 2-door/4-door saloon
2-door coupe
2-door cabriolet
coach-built estate
… (from 1948)
Layout FR layout
Related Fiat 508C Nuova Balilla 1100[1]
Engine I4 1090 cc till 1949
I4 1221 cc from 1949
Transmission 4-speed manual
synchromesh on top 2 ratios
Wheelbase 2,420 mm (95.3 in)
Length 4,000 mm (157.5 in)
Width 1,480 mm (58.3 in)
Height 1,530 mm (60.2 in)
Successor Simca Aronde

1946 Simca 8 coupé deux places (2 seat coupé)1951 Simca 8 Sport Michelotti

Simca 8 coupé deux places (2 seat coupé)

The Simca 8 was a car built and sold in France between November 1937 and 1951 (including wartime), available as a sedan, coupé or cabriolet. It was a rebadged Fiat 508C “nuova Balilla” made at Fiat’s Simca plant in Nanterre France.

High profile launch breaking records

The Simca 8 was first presented, at the Motor Show in October 1937, and sales in France started almost immediately in November. Early the next summer Henri Pigozzi, Simca’s energetic boss, organised a three part endurance run under the supervision of the ACF. A single Simca 8 undertook a “non-stop” 50,000 kilometer (31,075 miles) run split as follows:

  • 10,000 kilometers (6,215 miles) lapping the Montlhéry circuit averaging 115.1 km/h (72 mph) and returning 7.9 l/100 km
  • 20,000 kilometers (12,430 miles) on open roads averaging 65 km/h (40 mph) and consuming 6.0 l/100 km
  • 20,000 kilometers (12,430 miles) in Paris averaging (impressively) 54 km/h (34 mph) and consuming 6.5 l/100 km

The initial 10,000 km round the race-circuit south of Paris involved breaking no fewer than 8 international records, although the manufacturer’s advertisement including this information does not spell out what these records were. The purpose of the exercise was, of course, to gain positive publicity for the Simca 8, and as soon as the 50,000 kilometers had been completed, on 12 May 1938, a press dinner was organised at which the journalists were able to dine with the drivers, the ACF monitors, and the Simca directors as well as representatives from Shell and Dunlop, whose products had presumably played a key role in the exercise.

The printed summary of the event, used to advertise to the wider public, concluded with an invitation that the reader “achetez la mêmevoiture” (buy the same car).

The engine

The ‘8’ in the car’s name did not indicate an eight-cylinder engine; it had but four cylinders, and was officially rated as a 6CV vehicle for tax purposes. At launch the car featured a 1,089 cc engine with a claimed output of 32 hp at 4,000 rpm. Fuel feed came via a Solex 30mm carburetor and overhead valves driven, using rods and rocker arms, by a side-mounted camshaft. An unusual feature at the time was the use of aluminium for the cylinder head.

Shortly before it was replaced in 1951, the Simca 8 had acquired, in September 1949, the Fiat designed 1,221 cc engine which would also be employed its successor, the popular 7CV Simca 9 Aronde.

The body

At launch only two bodies were offered, these being a 4-door “berline” (saloon/sedan) and a 2-door four seater cabriolet. This contrasted with the Simca’s Italian cousin for which a wider range of bodies was available from the start and it also marked a departure from the strategy followed by Simca themselves with the predecessor model, the Simca-Fiat 6CV which had been offered with almost as wide a range of body variants as its Turin built relative. The four door body was unusual in that there was no central pillar between the front doors, hinged at the front, and the rear doors, hinged at the back, permitting particularly easy access when a front and rear door were opened simultaneously. In 1937 the Simca 8 4-door Berline was priced at 23,900 Francs for a “Normale” version and at 25,900 Francs for a “Grande Luxe”. The Peugeot 202 made its debut only six months later, in Spring 1938, and was priced at 21,300 Francs for a “Normale” version and at 22,500 Francs for a “Luxe”. The cars were similar in size and power, but sales data suggest that the market found space for both of them, despite the Simca’s higher price.

The post war range became wider, with coupé, cabriolet and after 1948 station wagon versions listed, but these were all substantially more expensive than the berline(sedan): virtually all the cars sold were still Simca 8 Berlines, which early in 1947 were priced at 330,000 francs against 420,000 francs for the cabriolet. (The slightly longer but slightly slower competitor from Peugeot, the 202 was priced at 303,600 francs which included a sun roof at no extra cost.)

Over the course of a few years the Simca 8 underwent some grille changes, and other minor upgrades.

Market reaction

1939 Simca 8 1200

 The Simca 8 won plaudits for its lively temperament and excellent fuel economy. The four ratios on the new gear box were chosen so that even when cruising at 110 km/h (68 mph) fuel consumption remained reasonable, and set to permit good progress along country roads and reasonable acceleration even in hilly areas. The car also came with unusually precise steering and efficient hydraulically controlled brakes that did not overheat.

Commentators nevertheless noted that the engine was noisy when working hard, the (semaphore style) direction indicators were fragile, and the ambitiously sophisticated front suspension also proved fragile when confronted with France’s rural roads, many of which were still unpaved. The gear box could be disagreeable when changing down across the gate from third speed to second, and the car was only just large enough for four people, with only a small storage area for luggage, located in a hard to get at position behind the back seat and without any external access.


For most of the time the Simca 8’s principal competitors were the “bargain basement” Renault Juvaquatre and the Peugeot 202. After the war, with the Juvaquatre range restricted to an estate/ station wagon version, and Peugeot moving half a market segment up at the end of 1948 replacing the Peugeot 202 with the larger 203, sales of the Simca 8 held up impressively even though the Simca was itself by now clearly nearing the end of its production run. In 1948 the Simca 8 was Simca’s top seller, with approximately 14,000 sold, almost all of them saloons/sedans. Two years later, in its penultimate year, the car was being produced at an even higher rate.

The principal complication arose from the fact that the car was in most respects a badge engineered Fiat, which compromised its export potential, which was a particular issue after the war, when government (and the state of the French economy) were demanding heroic export effort from France’s leading auto-makers.

The French car market in the early 1950s was concentrated, with just three models between them accounting for two thirds of domestic sales in 1950. Nevertheless, as the fourth best selling car of 1950 the Simca 8 with unit sales of 17,705 in that year achieved a respectable 10.2% market share.

Simca 9

The Simca 9 was a French sports car of the mid-1950s, being a development of the Simca 8, from which it differed by being lengthened a bit (a few centimetres or inches) between the rear edge of the door and the bulge of the rear fender, to provide more interior room.

Its running gear was similar to that of the Simca 8.

1951 simca 9 50 p151951 simca 9 50 p15

1951 simca 91951 simca 9

1952 simca 9 sport

1952 simca 9 sport

1954 Simca 9 aronde

1954 Simca 9 aronde

Simca 11

1936 Simca-Fiat 11 CV Cabriolet1936 Simca-Fiat 11 CV Cabriolet

1937 Simca-Fiat 11CV Berline 5pl1937 Simca-Fiat 11CV Berline 5pl

1937 simca-fiat-11-cv-31937 Simca-Fiat 11CV Berline 5pl

Simca Fiat 11cv

Simca Fiat 11cv

Simca Gordini Type 15 (Grand Prix racing car)

Simca Gordini Type 15 (Grand Prix racing car)


Industry Automotive
Founded 1946
Headquarters Les Ulis, France
Parent Renault Sport

Gordini (French pronunciation: ​[ɡɔʁdini]) is a division of Renault Sport Technologies (Renault Sport). In the past, it was a sports car manufacturer and performance tuner, established in 1946 by Amédée Gordini, nicknamed “Le Sorcier” (The Sorcerer). Gordini became a division of Renault in 1968 and of Renault Sport in 1976.


Simca Gordini Type 16Gordini Type 32

1950 Simca Gordini T15s 1950 Simca gordini-t15s1950 Simca Gordini T15s, as raced, and retired, at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans by José Froilán González and Juan Manuel Fangio

Amédée Gordini tuned cars and competed in motor races since the 1930s. His results made Simca (the French assembler of Fiat) to hire him for its motorsport programme and to develop road cars. Their association continued after World War II.

In 1946, Gordini introduced the first cars named after him, Fiat-engined single-seaters raced by him and Jose Scaron, achieving several victories. In the late 1940s the company opened a workshop at the Boulevard Victor in Paris, entering into sportcar and Grand Prix races. Gordini and Simca started to diverge in 1951 because of political conflicts.

Gordini competed in Formula One from 1950 to 1956 (with a brief return in 1957), although it achieved a major success in Formula Two during that period.

After its Formula One programme ended Gordini worked with Renault as an engine tuner, entering Renault-Gordini cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1962 and 1969. It also tuned engines for Alpine, a rival sports car manufacturer also associated with Renault. In 1957, Gordini and Renault manufactured the Dauphine Gordini, a modified version of the Renault Dauphine which was a sales success. Gordini-tuned Renault cars also won various rallies during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1963, the Gordini company planned to move its headquarters to Noisy-le-Roi. At the end of 1968, Gordini retired and sold a 70% majority stake from his firm to Renault. Renault-Gordini was moved to Viry-Châtillon in 1969 and became a sport division of Renault, before be merged with Alpine to form Renault Sport in 1976. The Gordini company name became wholly owned by Renault in 1977.

Renault sold Gordini-badged performance versions of models including the Renault 5, the Renault 8 the Renault 12 and the Renault 17.

In November 2009, Renault announced that it would be reviving the Gordini name for an exclusive line of hot hatches, in a similar fashion to Fiat‘s revival of its Abarth name. Modern models to bear the name include the Renault Twingo and the Renault Clio.

Dauphine Gordini (1957–1967)

  • Renault 8 Gordini (1964–1970)
  • Renault 12 Gordini (1970–1974)
  • Renault 17 Gordini (1974–1978)
  • Clio Gordini RS (2010–present)
  • Twingo Gordini (2010–present)
  • Twingo Gordini RS (2010–present)
  • Wind Gordini (2011–2013)

Car colours

Since its early Renault models the most characteristic colour scheme of Gordini cars has been bleu de France (the French motor racing colour) with white stripes, although different combinations have been used over the years.

Simca Aronde

Simca Aronde
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1951–1964
Body and chassis
Class Family car
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door hardtop coupé
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
3-door estate
2-door pickup
2-door van
5-door station wagon(Australia)
Layout FR layout
Engine 1.1 L ohv I4
1.2 L ohv I4
1.3 L Flash ohv I4
1.3 L Rush ohv I4
Predecessor Simca 8
Successor Simca 1300/1500

The Simca Aronde was a family car manufactured by the French automaker Simca from 1951 to 1963. It was Simca’s first original design (earlier models were all to a greater or lesser extent based on Fiats), as well as the company’s first unibody car. “/ Aronde -hirondelle”means “swallow” in Old French and it was chosen as the name for the model because Simca’s logo at that time was a stylized swallow.

The three generations

There were three generations of the model: the 9 Aronde, made from 1951 to 1955, the 90A Aronde, made from 1955 to 1958, and theAronde P60 , which debuted in 1958 and continued until the model was dropped in 1964. Some 1.4 million Arondes were made in total, and this model alone is largely responsible for Simca becoming the second-biggest French automaker at the end of the 1950s.

Simca 9 Aronde

Simca 9 Aronde
1951–1955 Simca aronde taxi
Production 1951–1955
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door hardtop coupé
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
3-door estate
2-door pickup
2-door van
Engine 1221 cc ohv I4
Transmission four-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,440 mm (96.1 in)
Length 4,070 mm (160.2 in)
Width 1,560 mm (61.4 in)
Height 1,520 mm (59.8 in)

The first Aronde debuted in the spring of 1951 but initially only a few hundred pre-production cars were distributed to carefully selected “guinea-pig” buyers, and the full production version was finalised only in time for the Paris Motor Show, becoming available for sale in October 1951. The full production version incorporated various detailed changed when compared to the pre-volume production cars, including a changed material for the seat covers and a moulded plastic dash-board which at the time appeared very modern when compared to the metal dashboard on the Aronde’s most obvious competitor, the Peugeot 203. A few months later, at the start of 1952, space was found to position the battery under the bonnet/hood: in the original cars the battery was stowed under the front seat.

The Aronde was fitted with a front-mounted 1221 cc 44.5 bhp (33.2 kW) engine from the previous Simca model, the Simca 8, fuel feed being provided by a Solex 32 carburetor. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a traditional four-speed manual gear box incorporating synchromesh on the top three ratios. The car had independent suspension at the front using coil springs, with a live axle at the rear, suspended using semi-elliptic leaf springs. Hydraulically operated 9.85 in (250 mm) drum brakes were used all round.

The only body style offered at the October 1951 launch was a four-door saloon/sedan/berline, but other configurations very soon became available such as the three-door estate (branded initially as the “Aronde commerciale” and later as the “Châtelaine”) with a horizontally split tailgate. There was also a van, called the “Messagère”, and a “commerciale semi-vitrée” – part panel van and part estate – became available in 1953. Of more interest to collectors is the two-door coupé coachbuilt by Facel. The Facel-built coupé was replaced for 1953 by a coupé based on the saloon Aronde body, called Grand Large, featuring a large three piece wrap-around rear window and a “pillarless” side window effect when both side windows were wound down.

A two-door cabriolet conversion, prepared by the coachbuilder Figoni, was presented to the public for the 1953 model year in a display involving ballerinas, but it proved impossible to confer sufficient structural rigidity on this car without unacceptable cost and weight penalties, and Figoni’s Aronde cabriolet was never produced for sale.

The 1952 Motor Show saw several manufacturers attempting to broaden the appeal of mainstream ranges with stripped down versions offered at a reduced price. The trend seems to have been started by Renault with their 4CV Service, and they were quickly followed by other automakers in including Rosengart and Simca. Simca’s “Aronde Quotidienne” was offered from January 1953 with an advertised price of 630,000 francs, which was a saving of 45,000 against the previous base model (confusingly branded, even then, as the “Aronde Berline Luxe”). The interior of the Quotidienne was simplified and the heater disappeared, as did most of the exterior trim. Nevertheless, chrome headlight surrounds remained in place: importantly, too, buyers of the “Aronde Quotidienne” could still choose from the full range of body colours offered on the “Aronde Berline Luxe”. The company was keen to stress that the stripped down Aronde was not as fully stripped down as the Renault Frégate Affaires (available only in black), the Renault 4CV Service or the Rosengart Artisane (these last two being offered only in grey).

1951-64 Simca Aronde Lieferwagen

A panel van was displayed in 1951 and sold from 1953

The 9 Aronde was well received, especially in France. It took only until 17 March 1953 before total production of this model at the Nanterre plant passed 100,000.

The company’s flamboyant boss. Henri Pigozzi, was keenly aware of the publicity that could be gleaned from the craze for record breaking runs. In May 1952 an Aronde broke five international records by covering a distance of 50,000 km (31,000 mi) at an average speed of 117 km/h (73 mph), and in August 1953 another Aronde, selected at random from the production line, returned to the Montlhéry circuit for a new record attempt whereby during the course of forty days and forty nights the car covered 39,242 laps which represented 100,000 km (62,000 mi) at an average speed of more than 104 km/h (65 mph). This achievement, which involved breaking more than 30 international records, was undertaken under the supervision of the ACF.

A car tested in France by the British Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 73.9 mph (118.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 30.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.1 miles per imperial gallon (8.3 L/100 km; 28.4 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car was reported to cost 970 Francs on the French market. It was not at the time available in the UK but the price was converted to £657.

Simca 90A Aronde

Simca 90A Aronde
DCF 1.0
Production 1955–1958
Assembly France
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door hardtop coupé
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
3-door estate
2-door pickup
2-door van
Engine 1290 cc Flash ohv I4
Wheelbase 2,440 mm (96.1 in)
Length 4,115 mm (162.0 in)
Width 1,560 mm (61.4 in)
Height 1,510 mm (59.4 in)

The second-generation Aronde debuted in October 1955. The new Aronde was now powered by the ungraded and newly named 1290 ccFlash engine. The unit retained the 75 mm (3.0 in) cylinder stroke of the previous engine, but the cylinder bore was increased to 74 mm (2.9 in). The Solex 32 carburetter was unchanged but a raised compression ratio provided for a small increase in claimed maximum power which, for the models as displayed at the motor show in October 1955, now given as 45 hp (34 kW) at 4,500 rpm or 48 hp (36 kW) at 4,800 rpm (and more in some low volume more highly tuned versions).

Externally the Aronde for 1956 had an updated 9 Aronde body, with restyled front and rear ends. A very slight lengthening of the car at the back made it possible to position the spare wheel under the floor of the boot/trunk which allowed for a substantial increase in usable luggage capacity.

New trim levels, marketed as Elysée and Montlhéry (named after the Autodrome de Montlhéry) appeared. The wagon (“Commerciale”) and van (“Messagère”) remained available, with a 45 PS (33 kW) version of the 1.3 litre “Flash” engine. They received the 90K modelcode.

In January 1957, the 500,000th Aronde was made, and the cars were now exported even to the USA. In October 1957, two new versions joined the Aronde range: the Océane, a 2-seater cabriolet, and Plein Ciel, a 2-seater coupé, both with bodies by Facel.

An Aronde Elysee was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 and was recorded as having a top speed of 82.6 mph (132.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 23.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.6 miles per imperial gallon (8.7 L/100 km; 27.1 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £915 including taxes on the UK market. In 1960 they also tested one of the Montlhéry models. This had a slightly higher top speed of 83.6 mph (134.5 km/h), faster acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.6 seconds and a better fuel consumption of 35.0 miles per imperial gallon (8.1 L/100 km; 29.1 mpg-US). The test car cost £896 including taxes on the UK market.

Simca Aronde P60

Simca Aronde P60
1961 Simca Aronde P60 Elysée, blue with white roof, Rush engine The vehicle was among the many classic cars handled by the Garage de l'Est
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1958–1964
Assembly France
Mile End, Australia
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door hardtop coupé
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
3-door estate
2-door pickup
2-door van
5-door station wagon (Australia)
Engine 1090 cc (6CV) ohv I4
40 hp (30 kW)

1290 cc (7CV) Rush ohv I4
42 hp (31 kW)
45 hp (34 kW)
48 hp (36 kW)
52 hp (39 kW)
57 hp (43 kW)
62 hp (46 kW)
70 hp (52 kW)Transmission4-speed manualDimensionsWheelbase2,440 mm (96.1 in)Length4,190 mm (165.0 in)Width1,570 mm (61.8 in)Height1,440 mm (56.7 in)

Simca Aronde Monaco 2-door pillarless saloon, promoted in some markets as a hardtop coupé

Simca Aronde Monaco 2-door pillarless saloon, promoted in some markets as a hardtop coupé

The P60 Aronde saloons, presented at the Paris Motor Show in October 1958, came with a new modern-looking body. The 2,440 mm (96.1 in) wheelbase was unchanged and, apart from a slightly lowered roof-line, the central portion of the body was still broadly similar to that of the original 1951 Aronde, but the discrete tail-fins and rear lights were restyled as were the headlights, set on either side of a larger grill at the front. Mechanically little had changed: more innovative was the wide range of versions and permutations now offered, with customers able to choose from a range of engines offering four different levels of power output (40, 45, 47 or 57 hp) and an options list that even included leather upholstery and a “Simcamatic” clutch.

A proliferation of names

In line with the manufacturer’s determination to offer customers more choice, the Simca Aronde P60 was offered with various names. The following cars all shared the same wheelbase and the same length/width footprint:

  • Simca Aronde P60 Élysée: 4-door berline (sedan/saloon) 1290cc (7CV) 48 hp (36 kW)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Grand Large: 2-door “coach panoramique” (pillarless sedan/saloon) 1290cc (7CV) 48 hp (36 kW)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Montlhéry: 4-door berline (sedan/saloon) 1290cc (7CV, higher compression) 57 hp (43 kW)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Monaco: 2-door “coach panoramique” (pillarless sedan/saloon) 1290cc (7CV, higher compression) 57 hp (43 kW)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Châtelaine: 5-door estate/station wagon 1290cc (7CV) 45 hp (34 kW)

Although the engines were unchanged, direct comparisons between the Aronde P60 Élysée and the previous model disclosed a small deterioration in overall top-end performance which was attributed to various “improvements” to the car’s overall profile which, taken together, reduced the body’s aerodynamic efficiency. The Aronde Châtelaine (estate) at this stage retained the body of the earlier Aronde 90A Châtelaine, but by 1960 a more luxurious estate version, branded as the Simca Aronde P60 Ranch, combined the new front end (resembling, according to one source, the 1957 Ford Thunderbird) from the new Aronde P60 with the back end of the previous generation of Aronde estates.

Broadening the range

The announcement of the Aronde P60 coincided with a resurrection for the old 1090cc (6CV) engine last seen in the Simca 8 before that model received a larger engine in 1949. The old 6CV unit was now fitted in a reduced specification Simca Aronde, but the bodies of these downmarket Arondes still, at this stage, were those of the 90A Aronde of 1955-58, and not from the new Aronde P60. The cylinder stroke of the two engines was the same, but the bore diameter on the 1090cc unit was smaller and in return for a rather anaemic level of performance, buyers enjoyed a small improvement in fuel consumption. The car, known as the Aronde Deluxe Six, was aggressively priced at 598,000 Francs which enabled it to compete with the popular Renault Dauphine for which listed prices started at 594,500 Francs.

The “old” Aronde body was also available with the 1290cc (7CV) unit fitted in the new Aronde P60s, and in this form the car was known as the Aronde Super Deluxe.

A year later the entry level Arondes acquired the P60 body that the other models had received in 1958, and the 1960 cars exhibited at the Paris Motor Show in October 1959 combined the newer bodies with the engines and the reduced specifications of the previous year’s entry level models. The price had crept up too, with the entry level Aronde Deluxe Six now listed at 6,050 New Francs for a basic saloon, while the basic Renault Dauphine was still listed at less than 6,000 New Francs. The changes for the 1960 model year also involved more names, and the three low end Aronde models were now named as follows:

  • Simca Aronde P60 Deluxe six: 4-door berline (sedan/saloon) 1090cc (6CV) 40 hp (30 kW)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Étoile six: 4-door berline (sedan/saloon) 1090cc (6CV) 40 hp (30 kW) (featuring more sophisticated rear suspension)
  • Simca Aronde P60 Étoile sept: 4-door berline (sedan/saloon) 1290cc (7CV) 48 hp (36 kW)

After this the old Aronde body was restricted to a single model, the Simca Deluxe sept also known as the “Aronde Outremer” since it was intended for sale overseas, chiefly in Algeria, at that time blighted by an increasingly bitter war for independence.


A new engine, the Rush 1290 cc unit, with the same cylinder dimensions as before, but now incorporating a five-bearing crankshaft, was fitted to the Arondes beginning from October 1960. A wide range of power outputs for the new engine was offered according to model, ranging initially from 48 hp (36 kW) to 57 hp (43 kW). During this period higher octane fuels were becoming the norm at filling stations across France, and some of the changed power outputs correlated with changed compression ratios. The situation is further complicated by changes to the basis for computing power output in France (and elsewhere in Europe) at the end of the 1950s.

A 70 hp (52 kW) version of the engine, called Rush Super, debuted in September 1961 in two models – the Montlhéry Spéciale saloon and Monaco Spéciale hardtop coupé.

Australian production

Simca P60 Aronde Station Wagon was developed by Chrysler Australia

The Simca P60 Aronde Station Wagon was developed by Chrysler Australia

The 90A Aronde was produced in Australia from 1956 by Northern Star Engineering which, along with Continental and General Distributors, had been contracted to assemble the model from CKD kits, using local content. In July 1959, Chrysler Australia announced that future production of the Aronde would be undertaken at its factories in Adelaide. In late 1959 the P60 was introduced, selling alongside the 90A well into 1960, and a five-door P60 station wagon was introduced in late 1961. The wagon, which was unique to Australia, was based on the four-door sedan and featured an extended roof-line and a tail-gate fitted with a wind-down window. Australian production of the Aronde ceased in 1964.

Simca Sport

Simca Sport
1960-62 Simca Aronde Plein Ciel

Simca Sport Plein Ciel
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1950–1962
Assembly Nanterre, France
Body and chassis
Body style 2-seater sports coupe
2-seater sports cabriolet
Engine Till 1955:
1221 cc (7CV) ohv I4 50 hp (37 kW)
From 1956:
1290 cc (7CV) ohv I4 57 hp (43 kW)
later increased to 60 hp (45 kW), then 70 hp (52 kW)
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,440 mm (96.1 in)

The Simca Sport was a two seater sports car. It originated as a coupé version of the Simca 8, but with the arrival of the Aronde the Simca Sport acquired a new grill in October 1951, and six months later it gained an extra 20 mm (0.8 in) of wheelbase, from 1952 sharing its 2,440 mm (96.1 in) wheelbase with the Aronde as well as its (at this stage) 1221cc (7CV) engine. The Simca Sport would continue to share its engine and other technical components, as well as its wheelbase, with the Aronde until its withdrawal in 1962.

It became increasingly expensive and correspondingly rare. Although its origins predated those of the Simca Aronde, the Simca Sport is now usually presented as a low volume stylishly rebodied version of the Aronde.

The arrival of the 2,440 mm (96.1 in) wheelbase in 1952 coincided with the loss of a separate chassis, and from now on the Sport used an elegant monocoque body. The new monocoque bodied car was offered only as a two-seater hardtop coupé, there being for the time being no replacement for the former Simca Sport cabriolet. In October 1952 a cabriolet version of the now chassisless Simca Sport was exhibited, but the cabriolet version only entered production more than two years later in the Spring of 1955, presumably reflecting the challenges involved achieving sufficient structural rigidity in a slim and shapely cabriolet body, without incurring an excessive weight penalty.

Simca Sport: More names and other changes for 1957

1959 The Flash Spécial engine in a 1959 Aronde Océane, with 57 hp

The “Flash Spécial” engine in a 1959 Aronde Océane, with 57 hp

A new generation of the Simca Sport was launched at the 1956 Paris Motor Show. There was, as before, a choice between a two seater sports cabriolet and a two seater sports hardtop. The bodies came from Facel. The cost of organising and producing a coachbuilt body was reflected in the price of the Sport, which at the 1957 Motor show was listed as 1,079,000 francs for the fixed roof “Plein Ciel” version: this compared with a starting price of 595,000 Francs for the Simca Aronde with which the Sport shared its engine and other mechanical elements. Mechanically and visually the new cars were not so different from those they replaced, but they were readily differentiated by their fashionable wrap-around “panoramic” windscreens.

1960 Simca Sport Océane.This open topped version was badged as the Simca Sport Océane.

The two versions of the Simca Sport now received extra names, which was in keeping with the manufacturer’s marketing strategy at the time. The Cabriolet version, from which on a sunny day the driver could enjoy an unimpeded view of the sky, was now branded as the Simca Sport Océane while, bizarrely, the fixed roof version was branded as the Simca Sport Plein Ciel (Simca Sport Open Sky). Although precluded by their prices from becoming big sellers, the eye catching sports models served the company well, adding glamour to Simca show rooms and exhibition stands.

The final years of the Simca Sport

When the Aronde received a reworked body in 1958 there was no corresponding update for the Simca Sport which changed very little after 1957. Under the bonnet/hood, however, the Sport benefited from the upgraded version of the 1290cc “Rush” engine, shared with the newly announced Simca Aronde P60 Montlhéry Spéciale introduced for both models at the Motor show in October 1961. The uprated engine featured a further increase in compression ratio, now set at 8.5:1, and an increase in power to 70 hp (52 kW). The result was a small gain in performance and a useful improvement in flexibility.

At the end of the 1950s prototype replacements for the Simca Sport were developed and four cars were built, but the project did not progress to production. In 1961 the Sport was still priced at nearly twice the level of the entry level Aronde, and in 1961 production of the car ended without replacement.

Simca Ariane

Simca Ariane
1952 Simca Ariana1952 Simca Ariana
Manufacturer Simca
Production 1957–1963
Body and chassis
Class Large family car
Body style 4-door saloon
Layout FR layout
Related Ford Vedette
Simca Vedette
Simca / Chrysler Esplanada
Engine 1.3 L Flash I4
(1957 – 1963)
2.4 L Aquillon V8
(1958 – 1961)
Transmission 4-speed manual. Synchromesh on top 3 ratios
Wheelbase 2,690 mm (105.9 in)
Length 4,500 mm (177.2 in)
Width 1,750 mm (68.9 in)
Height 1,480 mm (58.3 in)

The Simca Ariane was a large saloon car launched in April 1957 by the French automaker Simca. It was manufactured in the company’s factory at Poissy until 1963.


The plant at Poissy had been built by Ford France between 1937 and 1940, but after the war the economic direction of France was uncertain. Ford had equipped the plant to produce the V8 engined Ford Vedette but the government was imposing punitive levels of car tax on cars with large engines and sales fell well short of expectations. In addition, the Poissy plant experienced above average levels of industrial unrest. Simca purchased the plant from Ford in 1954, together with rights to build the latest version of the car produced in it, which now became the Simca Vedette, relaunched by Simca with different model names according to equipment levels.