Franco-Italian: 1952 Simca 8 Sport Convertible

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Early European carmakers were children of relationships that paired and separated repeatedly. First, this company owns that one, then the reverse is true! Brands could change hands half a dozen times before finally fading away, only to be reanimated years later by some other company entirely. So it was with Simca, founded by Fiat in 1935 when it purchased a factory in the French town of Nanterre. At first, it produced only Fiat-badged vehicles there, but by 1938, it was using the Simca badge liberally. The 8 Sport was an effort to evolve away from Simca’s family car reputation. Its elegant aluminum body was similar to the Cisitalia 202, both designs flowing from the pen of Battista “Pinin” Farina. Moving the car into production was a challenge at first since Fiat’s Nanterre facility was otherwise engaged; in the end, a deal was struck with Facel Metallon (maker of the Facel-Vega) to manufacture the new sports car. Here on eBay is a 1952 Simca 8 Sport convertible, with an asking price of $21,995. The car is located in Pleasanton, California. We have jonny to thank for this excellent tip!

This car is a project, with the seller claiming it has spent over fifty years in California, and forty-two of those in storage near Sacramento. The car was repainted in the 1970s. Its alloy body has damage from dents where it appears that repair was attempted. Despite the long storage stint, the seller was able to start the car and drive it around his facility, albeit with nearly no brakes. The 8 Sport came with a 1229 cc in-line four-cylinder sipping fuel via a Solex carburetor. A compression ratio of about 7.7:1 helped it generate 50 bhp, making the car “sporty” but not a barnburner. Still, Simca 8 Sports achieved success at Rallye Monte Carlo and the Alpine Rally several years in a row.

The interior needs repair, and the seller is mute regarding the condition of the gauges and electrical items. The top is in tatters, though the tonneau is in tolerable condition. Alas, the front windscreen is missing; I believe this is the two-part version. Those interior door pulls are Fiat, made of aluminum – probably just one example of many Fiat parts hanging on this car.

The underside, apparently aided by decent storage conditions, is quite clean. The seller includes several detailed photos of the greasy side, from front to back, including wheel well shots with the wheels removed. A buyer could fix the brakes; source a windshield or make a perspex copy; repair the interior; hope for the best for the rest of the car, and have a stylish, running, driving project. As to value, a survivor sold here for $44k, but surveying other available examples shows prices can be as high as $70k for very nice examples, making our subject car at least a reasonable gamble.

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  1. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    I remember this car, I rode in one at FunTown when I was a kid,,,I, um, have nothing positive to say, so I’ll keep my big mouth shut,,EXCEPT, got to be living in dreamland,,oh, nice oil pan, if that is the oil pan. I can see THAT getting crunched on a steep driveway approach. I don’t see much in the way of appeal here, I always thought of Simca as the “Rambler” of Europe. Good cars for the masses, but not a lot of glitz. A French Austin, kind of. Did they ever make a fancy Simca?
    Did you know, Simca stands for “Societe Industrialle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile”, and I have no idea what that means,,ah the French,

    Like 1
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Simca and Abarth collaborated, and I guess I would call those “fancy Simcas”.

      Like 5
      • Martin Horrocks

        Although it would seeem to be more logical the other way round, Abarth Simca was a tuned version of the Simca 1000, with Simca engine. Simca Abarth was the gorgeous coupé which was very successful as a race car in 1300, 1600 and 2000 forms.

        The Simca Abarth engine was the first completely in house motor produced by Abarth, repeating his trick of getting improbable performance out of small capacity engines without sacrificing reliabity.

        But if the motor had no Simca origins, the Simca Abarth chassis came directly from the Simca 1000, again repeating an old Abarth trick from his Fiat Abarth coupés. I´ve seen a couple of Simca Abarths up close and personal and they are incrediblle machines.

        Like 1
    • Butch Smith

      Hi Howard. You’re right about Simca’s name origin. It was basically fiat wanting to build cars in France. Much of Simca cars shared designs but didn’t use Fiat components. The Simca Cinq was a copy of fiat Toppolino. There was also the Simca 8 and the venerable Aronde. Simca 1000 was much like the Fiat 850 design. Simca 1300/1500 sedans were similar to Fiat 124 sedans. My French grandfather had a 64 Simca 1500 sedan. Simca did make larger cars with bigger 4cyl engines and even borrowed from Ford of France using the flathead v8 in a long line of up level cars. They were called the Ariane, Trianon, Versailles and Chambord. The Chambord was the nicest one. Then Sîmca was absorbed by Chrysler in the 70-80’s and became Talbot. Then disappeared. It’s funny you mentioned Rambler. Renault struck up a deal with Rambler in early 60’s to build and sell Rambler in France as their big car.

      Like 3
      • Martin Horrocks

        Good summary! Simca 1000 was actually a Fiat design which Fiat did not want to put into production, so sold on to Simca. Other than size and market position, there is no connection between Fiat 124 and Simca 1300/1500, however.

        Like 1
    • Alain Chardon

      Company Industrial of Mechanics and Automobile Bodywork

      Like 1
  2. nlpnt

    The prices are in line with a semi-coachbuilt European car from the early postwar era, but the styling just isn’t. I can see something of a junior Ferrari but a lot more that looks almost homemade.

    Like 0
    • Martin Horrocks

      It does look a bit like some Michelotti Italian designs of the early 50s, but in fact its look is also typical of Facel, who designed and built the body for Smca..

      Like 1
  3. Will Fox

    Looks like one of those ‘generic’ cars co’s. use in their advertising when they can’t illustrate a name brand!

    Like 1
  4. Tom Lange

    I love Italian and Italianate cars of the early 50’s, and think this is pretty nice. Yes, it needs work, but what wonderful lines! The grille and front bumper don’t do much to add to the car’s appeal, but I think with relatively little work this could be one cool ride. The brakes are probably typical Italian or French parts of the time, and can probably be sleeved and brought back easily. The windshield would be a production, though – I can’t imagine there is an active Simca club making parts for these 50’s versions, since most Simca/Matra/Talbot clubs focus on ’60’s cars!
    The 1,100cc racing class was a hot one in the 50’s, and today you probably can’t find an affordable Cisitalia, Siata or Lancia.

    Like 3
    • MikeH

      Looking at the ’51 that sold for 44K, it looks to me as if it has a two piece, flat glass windshield with a divider. If so, the glass won’t be a problem, but the divider certainly might.

      Like 2
      • Martin Horrocks

        Correct, MikeH. All photos I have viewed of the Simca 8 cabriolet have 2 pane glass joined in the centre, which should be easy to reproduce. The coupe version has one piece curved screen, would be a different matter.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        I had the opportunity to test drive a Simca 8 cabriolet like this one back when I was living in Germany in late fall of 1974. It was a running and driving car, with current TUV [vehicle inspection]. The asking price was DM1,200. about $400 at the time. The guy selling it said it had belonged to his late father and it was being sold to settle the estate. I’m pretty sure I could have bought it for about $200 in US cash, but I was limited to 2 cars on the US military base, and I already had a 1956 Chrysler Imperial and a 1962 Ferrari 250 2+2. So I passed. A facel-Metallon Simca 8 cabriolet is quite sought-after in Europe. I feel this will be a car worth buying, and I see their value continuing to rise. This one may well end up heading back to Europe.

        I can confirm the windshield is made up of 2 pieces of flat glass.

        Like 2
  5. TheOldRanger

    Simca sounds a bit like one of those cartoon lions, except this has no bite to it.

    Like 1
  6. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Am I the first to mention “To Catch A Thief” or is this an earlier lesser version of Grace Kelly’s car?

    Like 1
    • RallyeMember

      I think you’re thinking of a Sunbeam.
      An odd coincidence! 35-40 years ago I bought a Simce like this. I can’t remember if it was a closed car or this same one. It did have an alloy body. I knew who was buying it from me before I went to pick it up. In the same field with the Simca that I bought, there were 2 of the early 50s Sunbeams like Grace Kelly drove.

      Like 2
    • Butch smith

      No, in the movie Grace Kelly drove a 55 Sunbeam Alpine. Similar looking though.

      Like 1
      • Lowell Peterson

        Actually Alpine Talbot

        Like 0
  7. Martin Horrocks

    I see a lot of value here. As Tom Lange points out, these had real pedigree in SCCA races of the 50s (US was a major market) and mechanically there should be no difficulty if you know who to ask. I do think you will find club support for these cars, though it may require a bit of Google translate.

    The photos on the ebay listing are very good and show no worries. You have a very complete and desirable handbuilt European car with the Facel provenance for $22000. I wouldn´t argue with that, tbh!

    Like 2
  8. Butch smith

    I just looked à French classic car site I follow, Les There’s a 51 Simca 8 cab listed there for 56k euros, $62k. A second one is a 48 chassis with the barchetta body for 55k euros.

    Like 0

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