Tuesday 4 December 2012
Simca 1300 and Simca 1500 were large family cars manufactured by the French automaker Simca in its Poissy factory from 1963 to 1966, and between 1966 and 1975 in revamped versions, as Simca 1301 and Simca 1501.
They were essentially versions of the same car, fitted with either a 1.3 L or 1.5 L engine, hence the model names. Apart from different engines and differences in standard equipment, the models were for the most part identical, bar some styling details such as grille or bumpers. This model series replaced the popular, long-running Simca Aronde and was initially available only with a 4-door saloon body, but in 1964 the 1500 gained an estate version (1300 estate followed in 1965).
The estate versions had some interesting features. All had split tailgates - the rear windscreen would wind down into the bottom part, which could then be folded down. On the one hand, this allowed the access to the cargo compartment without opening the full tailgate. On the other, this meant that rear window heater could never be installed in estates. Additionally, the 1500 GL version's cargo floor, which doubled as the cover for the spare wheel (stowed flat), could be removed and, thanks to four folding legs, converted into a picnic table! A 1500 Familial version had two child seats (facing each other) in the cargo compartment, and a luggage rack on the roof.
In September 1966 Simca presented the revised range, now bearing the 1301/1501 names. The saloons featured a new, extended front end, and a significantly stretched rear, which resulted in a larger boot and a more stately profile. The estates, while also receiving the new front end, retained their previous rear design. All models were also given new interiors. In 1969 and 1970 respectively, Simca presented the more "sporty" Special versions of the 1501 and 1301. The range continued to be produced until 1975, when Simca unveiled a replacement, the Simca 1307, which went on to become the 1976 European Car of the Year.
While being quite popular, especially in France and Germany, those Simcas can be remembered for some quirks regarding both series. The 1300/1500 came with column shift for left-hand drive markets, but the right-hand drive versions were converted to floor shift. The conversion for some reason resulted in a "mirror" shift pattern, with the first and second gear being closer to the driver, and the third and fourth farther to the left.
Moreover, the 1500 GLA model, which was initially the sole in the range featuring automatic transmission, was at first available in metallic brown only. A similar situation concerned the interior carpets, which would come deep red regardless of the exterior color. On 1301/1501 models from 1970 onwards a new badging scheme was used, which employed a red paint with a propensity to fade over time, resulting in the badges (and thus the model denomination) becoming unintelligible.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1500 cc
- horsepower: 65 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 135 km/h