Simca (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile; Mechanical and Automotive Body Manufacturing Company) was a French automaker, founded in November 1934 by Fiat S.p.A. and directed from July 1935 to May 1963 by Italian Henri Pigozzi.
Simca was affiliated with Fiat and, after Simca bought Ford’s French subsidiary, became increasingly controlled by Chrysler. In 1970, Simca became a brand of the Chrysler’s European business, 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.
The Simca Coupé 1000 and its successor, the Simca 1200S are small, rear-engined two-door coupés (described by one well informed commentator as “Pseudo-sportives”) which were 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 and an assembly plant in Rotterdam (1200S only) 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.
By 1962 Simca’s midrange cars had been replaced and in 1967 the focus of the manufacturer’s volume cars switched to the new Simca 1100. The Simca brand image was becoming increasingly starchy and the “sheep in wolf’s clothing” image of the Simca Coupe 1000 did little to improve it.
Bertone was commissioned to upgrade the body. This was achieved by adding a pair of grills to the top of the bonnet/hood, shamelessly emulating a design theme of the Lamborghini Miura. It was also necessary to add an opening at the front for a grill, now that the radiator was moved to the front of the car. Otherwise the profile of the car was little changed.
At the back, the engine was now replaced by a four-cylinder in-line water-cooled 1204 cc unit which would later find its way into versions of the Simca 1100.
The car was renamed as the Simca 1200S, and in this form, supported by two carburetors, the engine produced a maximum 80 hp (59 kW) of power, allowing Simca to claim a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph).
In 1968 a further upgrade saw the claimed power increased to 85 hp (63 kW) and the claimed top speed to 179 km/h (111 mph).