UPDATE: Stored Since 1991! 1969 Simca 1204

UPDATE – After featuring this Simca a little over a year ago, it’s for sale again here on Craigslist in Armada, Michigan with an asking price of $700 or best offer. Thanks to Roger for sending in this tip!

FROM 1/3/18 – This listing is doubly unusual, with all vertical photos they had to be mish-mashed into a horizontal format, and it’s showing a pretty unusual car, too: a 1969 Simca 1204 GLS. It’s on Craigslist, or on the CL archive, and it can be found in Ray, Michigan, about 45 minutes north of the Motor City. The seller is asking $2,000. The 1204 was the name of US-market cars due to its 1,204cc engine size. It was known as the Simca 1100 in most other markets. 1969 was the first year for the 1204 in the US and they lasted until 1972 here. Thanks to Chuck F. for sending in this submission!

Hey, it’s a two-door hatchback model! It’s looking good so far, although it’s pretty dusty from being in a barn since 1991 after the seller’s dad quit driving it. It was the seller’s dad’s daily driver and although it looks like it’s just hunkered down there sitting on top of a woodpile, I’m sure that at least some care was taken with it over the last 2.5 decades. The Simca 1100 was the company’s first front-drive car, coming shortly after the 1000-series rear-drive, and it was also one of the first to have a hatchback with a fold-down rear seat for extra storage. We don’t see the passenger side at all, which is unfortunate. That’s where a Chrysler Pentastar should be on the bottom of the RF fender.

It looks like it’s been used as a storage unit inside of a storage unit (garage), but hopefully it’s all there and then some. I see a ding on the RR quarter but it looks like the tail lights aren’t smashed in by a runaway lawn tractor or by someone throwing firewood at it. I always wondered why people didn’t put car covers on vehicle when they stored them, until I read a lot about it the last few years in having a few of my own cars in storage. Rodents love to not be seen, and a car cover just helps them to hide out and chew away. Propping the hood/bonnet open is another good idea, from what I’ve read, to keep those little devils from taking up residence in the engine compartment and chewing things away. Here is a review in 1971 by David Ash: “1204 can bring nothing but praise…highly sophisticated set of specifications. Independent suspension by torsion bars at all four corners, front wheel disc brakes and radial ply tires are just part of a bill of fare that might be tempting to people who know about cars. Long orphaned here, the Simca 1204 is a genuine, solid machine.”

It looks pretty good inside. Dirty, but good. The dash almost looks like a Subaru 360 segmented-type dash which always causes problems with puffy seams splitting, but maybe it’s just cracked in perfect segments. Development on the 1100 started in 1962 and, to complicate matters, Chrysler took over Simca in 1963. The team was able to sell Chrysler on the value of the 1100 and it was given a green light. They were produced between 1967 and 1985 with over 2-million of them being sold worldwide. Back to the interior on this little dusty gem. The back seat is the only other photo given in this listing, and it also looks like it’s in nice condition back there, other than some splitting on the top of the fold-down back section.

This dirty but decent-looking engine is a 1.2L (1,204cc) inline-four which would have had 62 hp when new. The seller says that they put a “battery in and put gas in in carb. and started right up.” They also have “lots of extra parts to go with car. Maybe 1 or 2 extra engines and trans. Both rear quarters, heater box.” I think that this would be a fantastic little project, especially being a two-door 4-speed car. Have any of you owned a front-drive Simca 1100 or 1204?

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Comments

  1. Rich Truesdell

    I’ve always wondered why, when the first gas crisis hit in the Fall of 1973, that Chrysler didn’t find a way to increase Simca imports into the US. It would have seemed (except for notorious French assembly quality) that this would have been an ideal competitor to that era’s Honda Civic. Chrysler waited until the 1978 model year to introduce the VW Rabbit inspired Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omnii.

    What does anyone else think? (Ad above isfrom 1971, so Chrysler was already importing them into North America.)

    3
    • JYC

      Hey Rich, what do you mean with “notorious french assembly quality” ? Be carefull ! Thanks to internet, foreign eyes are watching you !
      Quality of French cars in this era wasn’t worse than any other country, including the US ! Maybe you are mistaking with Italian cars, from where was originally Simca ? Anyway, 70’s and 80’s truly were the worst years in terms of car quality.
      BTW, if I’m watching this website, this is because I love US cars. I own a stock 68 Corvette.

    • Ralph

      Exchange rate? NIH issues? Mitisubishi relationship?

      By 1971 Chrysler was already importing Colts too. RWD was still the norm in compacts in this era too.

    • Sam61

      While the Rabbit may have inspired the Horizon/Omni Chrysler actually ripped off a Simca platform. That being said I always thought the Horizon/Omni were ahead of their GM/Ford contempories. Chrysler has a great engineering heritage but reliability continues to be a stumbling block.

  2. LD71
    • Kornmanone

      That looked like a good deal

  3. SAM61

    Very informative write up. This would be an unusual fair weather/around town daily driver.

    One of our neighbors had a “79 Omni/Horizon which I didn’t know was an “Americanized” Simca.

  4. chad

    had several of the ‘sq boxes’ (the1000) I think in a mixture of frnt and rear wheel drive?
    AFTER several Renault Daulphens. I think our 1st “Renu” had semaphore turn signals (early 60s?)?

  5. Andrew not amember

    The other Mopar on Mannix .

  6. Derek

    My parents had one of these in the 70s; Dad rather liked it as it was the twin-carb 1300. My main memory (as a small child) is of how hot the black plastic seats became in the summer.

    1
    • MvM

      Here here, we had a goldisch one

      1
  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    Wow, that car has been sitting on that pile of wood since 1991? I wondered how they got it up there, and do you have to play Jenga to get it down if it sells?

    3
  8. Geoffrey Stein

    IN 1971 I traded a Jeep Commando, which regularly snapped clutch cables and blew out mufflers, for a 1204 from a Jeep dealer who was also a Simca seller. A few months later Chrysler stopped selling Simca in the USA, and I was mailed a $100 voucher for another Chrysler car. I liked the Simca a lot. It handled well and was French-suspension comfortable (fine). The hatch arrangement was handy. The front seat was extremely well designed, perhaps the car’s best part as I think back. Unfortunately the Simca was built with 1970’s steel, and since I lived in New York, the car rusted away. I traded for a used Vega. Oh well.

    1
  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    Interesting story Geoff. So, from Simca to Vega…is that “out of the frying pan, into the fire”, or vice versa?

    2
    • Geoffrey Stein

      Yes, Vegas had rust problems and engine problems, too. I traded for a new Toyota pick up. That lasted seven years until rust got it.

      1
  10. pat gill

    showing my age here, I used to PDI these as a 17 year old, nice enough to drive but weak gearboxes, easy to overhaul, once rebuilt one at home on my mum’s kitchen table, one car you never see from that era is the (French) Chrysler 180, very nice to drive but they fell apart whilst still under warranty, I am sure they never made over the pond, too far away, would have fallen apart on the boat!

  11. David Dietz

    The Dodge Omni was a Simca product. Simca didn’t want to invest the money into having their engine approved for import into the US market, plus in Europe I believe the engine was a 1.6. VW had already gotten approved for the US market with their 2.2 Golf, so it was easier for Chrysler to just purchase the VW engines. Omni and Horizon built in France by Simca

    • Ralph

      Though the design originated in France, the Omni and Horizon were built in the US, not France.

  12. Wayne

    You talk about rodent issues. We use mothballs in the trunk and under the hood. And dryer sheets in the interior. The little buggers don’t like the smell. If not equipped they can move in and cause havoc in two days. A neighbor who happens to one of the local county constables. Received his new patrol car the evening that started his two day weekend. One the third day the patrol unit would not even turn over with a jump. The dealership had to replace the chewed up harness.
    Mothballs evaporate. So make sure to replace them when they get real small.

    1
  13. Alexander

    I have to say the French do know how to build comfy seats and suspensions. I have never sat in a Peugeot, Citroen or Renault I didn’t like.

    Thumbs up on the dryer sheets and mothballs.

    2
  14. mikeH

    In addition to independent suspension, the 1204 had a horizontally mounted engine, fwd, disc brakes, and a thermostatically operated fan. All pretty much standard stuff today, but radical in the American market in 1069. The handling was great, especially when compared to 60s American cars. When Chrysler quit selling them, [there was almost no marketing] they forgot they existed. To get parts, you had to wait until they came from somewhere a week away. To this day, I won’t touch anything Chrysler.

  15. Ed

    I had a 1969 Simca 1204. Super comfortable seats, smooth ride, excellent handling. With front wheel drive, I remember pushing big American cars in the snow. But the negatives. Where do I start? The electrical system was absurd. The rear brakes froze in cold weather. At 40,000 miles, the engine had to come out, the rings were shot. The universals in every 1204 in America had to have the universals replaced, no boots, so the bearings in the universals rusted out. Finally, the body completely rusted out at about 45,000 miles. Sold it for $100.
    Man, if it had been built with Honda quality, I would still own it today.

    1
  16. David Wick

    I paid $2000 for a NEW Simca 1204 GLS 2 dr. wagon in 1969. The transmission bearings went at about 10,000 miles – had them replaced with Timkin bearings. The u-joints went at 18,000; Chrysler replaced them although the warranty had expired at 12,000 mi. Then they went again at 36,000 miles (consistent quality in evidence there)– the left one actually broke apart — and there were no replacement parts to be had. Calls to Chrysler were fruitless. I made car payments for about 10 months on a car that had to be towed to a junkyard.
    Never bought another Chrysler product, never will.
    Comfortable seats; good handling, sturdy little 1.2 liter four banger that was alas seriously underpowered. Shift linkage made of bubble gum and rubber bands, frequently impossible to get into reverse. Starter solenoid failed repeatedly, which I remedied by always parking facing downhill. If I couldn’t find a hill (the slightest downgrade sufficed for a rolling start) I wouldn’t park, I’d drive on. Would misfire and damp weather, and stall in wet weather. Yes, quite the gem of a little car.

    1
  17. Wayne

    Sam, yes on the Chrysler quality. Chrysler electronics is the new Lucas. (sorry to dis Lucas that way) Computer issues causing only one headlamp to come on? Automatic dimming rear view mirror failure causing a “no start” condition? Come on, they have no clue.

    1
  18. Wayne

    Ok, I have learned something that I was totally oblivious to or I am so old that my memory has gone “round the bend”. So someone please correct any inconsistencies/lies that I have listed below.
    “My” memory tells me that Omnis and Horizons were Rabbit copies designed and produced here in the US. Initially they were powered by a VW water cooled (Basic Rabbit engine) that had carburetors and stroked to 1,700 CCs instead of the 1,500 then 1,600 that came in the Rabbit. Later it came equipped with a Chrysler corporate 2.2 engine. (I have no idea of it’s origin)
    Did I just dream this old stuff?

    • Rex Kahrs Member

      Yes Wayne, I remember that the Omni/Horizon used the VW Rabbit engine.

  19. John

    This 1204 is a twin, including color, to the first new car I ever bought. I loved it & still have the front seats, although I later traded the rest of the car for a Peugeot 204 cabriolet (all this in Kentucky!). Kept the seats for a future ‘street rod’ project. Half a century later, the still-in-storage seats are still waiting for a new application. Not only were they comfortable, they were also “infinitely adjustable”, not requiring you to choose a setting from among a limited number of positions. I’m sure this feature would not comply with today’s ‘safety ‘ requirements, but back then we lived dangerously. lol In 1969, I felt that the disc brakes and standard Michelin tires made up for any shortcomings — and all for under two grand !

    I was profoundly disappointed when Chrysler soon gave up these interesting imports in favor of British Rootes-derived cars that were comparative antiques.

    Parting shot: When the dealer wiped the cosmoline from my NEW Simca, it was obvious that the left front fender had been damaged in transit. So they repainted the fender – at no cost to me – in a slightly different shade of blue !
    When I complained of the mismatch, the salesman assured me; “Well, they can’t stay new forever.”

  20. Wayne

    i still don’t understand the Omni/Horizon using the Simca platform. The Omnirizons do not use torsion bar suspension. And the rear suspension is a somewhat copy in style (not application) of the Rabbit set up also. I see Omnirizons as just a bold copy of a Rabbit. To claim heritage to the Simca is an insult to the Simca.

  21. Geoff

    Wayne, The Omni/Horizon was a descendant of this car. The Simca 1100/1204 was actually quite a progressive car, coming almost a decade before the VW copy of it. The Omni/Horizon was a Chrysler France (Simca) development to take the place of the 1100/1204. About the time the car was ready Chryslers financial problems forced the issue. The Omni Horizon was brought to the states to be made here as Chryslers financial savoir, by Lee Iacocca’s master plan to save the company. Chrysler’s French operations were sold to PSA. PSA renamed the car the Talbot Horizon and sold them in Europe for years with a smaller engine. They looked almost exactly the same as our Horizons. Chrysler started building there own engine for the car after a short run with the VW engine. There began the age of the Chrysler FWD cars that has lasted to this day “sort of” as the minivans.

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