Launched in 1961, the Simca 1000 was a small, rear engined saloon of 944cc which proved to be even more successful than the Simca Aronde. No doubt inspired by the popularity of the Renault Dauphine, Simca's engineers created a car which was to become a common sight on French roads for over 20 years. Unlike many small cars of the time such as the Mini and Hillman Imp, the 1000's four doors ensured it would appeal to families as much as individuals. It boasted a folding rear seat, which greatly increased luggage capacity, a feature sadly dropped after 1967, and only introduced again near the end of production in 1977.
Not even its greatest fans would say that early 1000's had good handling, although the ride was excellent for the time. In 1968 the rear suspension was redesigned, and from that point it was both safer and more fun to drive. An 1118cc version was introduced called the 1000 Special, and ran alongside the 944cc model. At the same time a smaller engined model of 777cc was launched, called the Sim'4. 1970 saw the debut of the Simca 1000 Rallye which looked very sporty, with a matt black bonnet, twin black stripes round the engine compartment, and matt black rally seats for driver and front passenger. Both it and the 1000 Special shared the 1118 cc engine, but with power boosted to 53bhp.
Further work on the engine saw it bored out to 1294cc, and the 1000 Rallye 1 appeared with this power unit producing 60bhp in 1972. At the same time the 1000 Special was fitted with the 1294cc engine, and all models were given improved front suspension. The Sim'4 was discontinued in 1973, but an even more powerful Rallye version was unveiled. The 1000 Rallye 2 had a modified 1294cc engine with two twin choke carburettors boosting the power to 82bhp. To ensure adequate cooling, the radiator was moved to the front of the car, and disc brakes were fitted all round. This car proved very popular in France with the racing fraternity, but unfortunately the importers decided not to sell it in the UK. Nevertheless, two of these cars are owned by Simca Club UK members.
October 1975 saw the introduction of the 1000 SR, another 1294cc model and this replaced the 1000 Special in the range. The following year saw the biggest visual change to the 1000 since its launch. The round headlamp front as shown in the photo were replaced by a new front panel featuring rectangular headlamps and a dummy radiator grille, together with a new, flatter bonnet. The objective was clearly to make the car look more like the contemporary facelift of the Avenger and the new Chrysler Alpine, but in practice it did not entirely work. The car did survive in production for another two years in this form, with one further power boost. This was the 1000 Rallye 3, which appeared in December 1977. Limited to just 1,000 examples, the Rallye 3 boasted 103bhp from a highly tuned 1294cc engine, with alloy wheels as standard.
Production of the 1000 stopped in June 1978 with 1,963,610 sold since 1961, making it the most successful Simca bar one, the front wheel drive 1100. In its native France the 1000 is well regarded by classic car enthusiasts, with the Rallye versions having a very strong following. There are over 30 on the books of the UK Club, but many of these are awaiting restoration. Mechanical spares are generally in reasonable supply, but body panels are becoming difficult to source. Such is the following for the cars in France, that it seems possible that replacement wings will be manufactured in the future.