French Econobox: 1970 Simca 1204

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I’ve only seen two Simca 1204s in my life. One of them was driven by our school’s music teacher in the early 70’s, and the other is one of the few cars the Marina is faster than when we race in LeMons. Reader Charles H. sent us this neat French find from Charles Town, West Virginia and up for sale here on eBay.

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Although it doesn’t look like it at first, it’s actually a hatchback, and as the ad states, “…everything works down to the lighter.” I don’t see any rust, even on the floors and spare tire well, although the paint is certainly faded. The seller says it has 103,500 miles, which may well be a record for a US Simca. Chrysler took over Simca in the early 1960’s and was the owner when this car was built. Someone must have really loved it to have preserved it so well for so long.

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Here’s the view looking in from that useful hatchback. Although the front seats show some damage, it’s nothing I’d need to replace right away. The dash pad is covered with carpet, and I’m guessing NOS Simca dash pads might even be tough to find in France. Maybe one of our European readers can chime in with the spares situation on the other side of the Atlantic.

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The little Simca 1204cc engine is mounted transversely and drives the front wheels. The seller says it runs well and “is a true survivor.” Ultimately, this car reminds me a little of the Pinto we recently featured, and it’s not because they are both dark green. They are both small, relatively slow, and not exactly beloved by the classic car community. Both are relatively inexpensive as well, and have plenty of life left. But what do you do with them besides continuing to drive them, and neither have the conveniences or safety features of a modern car. That wouldn’t stop me, but I’ll bet it stops most folks–which are why cars like this have trouble finding buyers. Are you the right buyer for this car? Let us know!

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Comments

  1. Dacosport

    Hi, I’m from Spain we had a lot of these in the 70’s and first 80’s.

    My grandfather had a simca 1000 and simca 1200, and never said anything good about these cars. He worked near the sea and both had rust problems before they had 2 years. He always said they were a big pile of rust with wheels. The only good thing he said about them was that they had more space than his previous seat 600 (same as the fiat 600) and that they didnt overheat as the 600 :)

    These cars were used by the police until the late 80s, i still remember one of them where i live as a local police car

    I go frequently to yunkyards and its been a long time since i saw one, but dryer places of spain there are quite big junkyards with a lot of classic cars in the center of Spain (both Castillas, Madrid…) where you can find parts

  2. David G

    Wow, neat as a pin. (Where the he** did that idiom come from anyway, anyone know?)

    These cars are totally off my radar til now but man if i wanted one this would be the dream candidate. Good color, 4-speed and seemingly a turn-key driver as is for a nearly giveaway price.

    To heck with resale value and profiteering; Drive something different and enjoy the public response as you do, whatever that might be!

  3. Matt C

    Frankly I’m astonished the bidding is as high as it is. In addition to being woefully underpowered, it also lacks the interior comfort and quirky French styling that you get with other French cars of the period. Despite its anonymous (to me) character, it is still heartening to see that it survived and I hope it finds a home where it will continue to be garaged and cared for – with just a little more rubbing compound you’ll have a “new” white one.

  4. That Guy

    Growing up in the Silicon Valley region in the 60’s and 70’s I did see these around from time to time. They weren’t common but they weren’t nonexistent either, as they seem to be today. I can’t recall seeing one in the wild for decades.

    These were really modern and cutting-edge cars when new. They sold very well in France and were in production well into the 1980s. They were also the basis for perhaps the original “soft-roader,” the Matra Rancho, which looked tough and off-roady but was really just a FWD Simca in drag.

    It looks like a really clean, solid car that’s just a paint job away from being superb. It’s probably a good thing it’s on the wrong coast for me, because I’d be putting in a bid or three if it was out west.

  5. Luke Fitzgerald

    None left on the roads in France – someone told me they introduced an any thing running thing got 3000 E on the sale of a new car ’bout 9 years ago – might be the best one left – might go home – they’re not shy in paying money in Europe – I saw about half a dozen old cars in Paris last year – period

    • George Member

      There are old cars in Paris, but the city is a rough environment. Most are probably garaged outside the city. About twenty years ago, I can remember even seeing a forlorn Facel Vega near métro Auteuil.

      There’s a Simca just like this sitting under an awning in an industrial area about a mile from me. I assume it will sit there until the owner “decides to fix it up,” or it returns to the earth as iron-rich potting soil.

  6. brakeservo

    I’ve owned quite a few Simcas – the very early ones were just license built Fiat Topolinos and then Simca was owned in the period after WWII by Ford so that up through the ’50s you could get a new Ford Flathead V8 60 in a Simca Vedette, about the same time period that the Aronde Oceane and Plein Ciel sports models were available with bodies by Facel (and in some aspects look like minature Facel Vegas). As I understand it, the engineering for the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon was based on Simca and in some markets the cars were sold with Simca engines. All-in-all Simca was a pretty remarkable company, and oh, let’s not forget Roger Barlow’s successful Simca Special sports racer! One of my best(?) Simca memories involves rolling a 1000 Sedan onto it’s roof in Burbank’s Olive Recreation Center behind the baseball diamond! I still swear I was going no more than 15 mph when it happened!!

  7. Lionel

    This was the car most sold in France in 1972. This is the 3 door version, quite a rarity, it was called the 1100S in France.

    A July 2015 old french car magazine estimates their value between $1000 for a driver to $5000 for one in excellent condition.

    The steering wheel is incorrect on this one however, ad I’m not convinced the air cleaner is either.

  8. Don Watson

    Hi there Don Watson here I am the proud owner of this Fine Automobile the Simca 1204 Well i can tell you i have lots of paper work on this one I also have the original Simca Service Manual that Chrysler Gave with the car new. Its a peach of a car. Although not perfect its dam close. It has the original tires on it. Also the steering wheel and breather are original and correct. Hell with a little elbow grease and a big smile id say for 3500 someone could have a blast driving this one…. It drives like a VW!!! Only it has a good heater.. Also it has the original Box mounted one speaker radio. and it still works.. 301-536-2751 Wow this thing is causing a ruckus. My phone wont stop ringing, This could be the last UN crushed one in the US..

  9. MikeH

    I had one of these, a ’69 I bought about ’72 for practically nothing. It was so advanced for its time. It was front wheel drive, had a horizontally mounted engine with the gear box on one end. It was tilted to allow for a lower hood. It had a thermostatically operated cooling fan and, I think, 4 wheel discs–not sure about the back. And, you say, what is so exciting about all that. Remember, this was ’69 and none of this was available on American iron and wouldn’t be for many years. Now, it’s all standard. It was a basic, but wonderful car. Had to sell it because when Chrysler stopped importing them, they forgot they ever existed. Even the most basic parts were not available. Chrysler would order parts from France and they would arrive in 3 or 4 weeks. To this day, I won’t touch anything Chrysler.

  10. Raymond

    ..Relatively slow.. then try this..

  11. Bob

    I owned a 1970 Simca 1100. It had front disc brakes and drums in the rear, rack and pinion steering. The bucket seats in the front were very comfortable and when you stowed the rear seat flat, you had lots of room to haul stuff.

    The car was under powered but it got 32 miles per gallon. You couldn’t go up a steep hill on the highway without resorting to 3rd gear, but you did it cheaply. As the 1100 evolved, it got larger engines which would have gone over nice in the US.

    I bought mine used with 62k on the odometer. I sold it with 89k as the trans-axle was going. I still expect Saint Peter to give me penance for that one.

    Technically, the 1100 brought together a lot of the elements that every American car company picked up in the 80’s. It was fun to drive and got along great in the snow. It was rust bucket though. Still, I dream about driving it sometimes. It was fun to drive.

    The hydraulic actuated clutch was crap, after a long hot drive it tended to crap out. You had to pull over and open the hood until it cooled off to get it in gear again. The valves needed adjustment every 3-5k miles too. And It could have used brake boosters and power steering.

    If Chrysler had put a larger engine in it and marketed it as a VW Bug Killer, it would have sold like crazy in the US.

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