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Simca 1300 - 1301 and Simca 1500 - 1501 cars (Chrysler Alpine)

1966 simca 1500

Here a short article to try and give you an impression of this model range, which was also the basis for the Chrysler Alpine. For that reason the emphasis is on the pictures, and not on numbers and data. If I were to mention exact production data, I would have to copy data from other sites, which is something I totally object to. All photographs in this article come from the original Simca catalogues and manuals (sometimes it was quite job to get them in a presentable shape).

The models and their designations are often mixed up, sometimes even by those from whom you expect they would know better. This maybe due to the little interest in these car series.

1964 simca 1500

In this text I sometimes use the terms ’00 and ’01 as a short for 1300/1500 and 1301/1501.

So to make things clearer to you, dear reader and fellow car-lover, here is in a few words how you can tell both series apart at first glance:

1300 – 1500: Sedans are easily identified by the rounded boot and round rear lights. The dashboard always has a big round dial with includes all meters and warning lights.

1964 simca 1500

1301 – 1501:  Easily identified as the models look stretched, with a straight back side and rectangular rear lights, flatter hood and a more forward pointing front. Rear sides of the station cars from first and second series are identical. The dashboard was flat and straight with horizontal speedometer, in later models replaced by a dashboard with four round dials.

simca 1301

Both series are were delivered in 4-door sedans and 4-door station cars, which had either 1300 or 1500 cc four cylinder line engines with 4-speed manual gearboxes or optionally 3-speed Borg Warner automatic gearboxes on some models.

4-door sedans are called “Berline” in French,  the station cars “Break” but may have the type designation “Tourist”

Simca 1300-1500 in detail

The first series. Introduced in 1963, the last model year was 1966.

After the three generations of Aronde it was was time for something really new. When the 1300 – 1500 appeared on the market, the series became a big hit.

1966 1500

These new cars were modern, cleanly shaped, of good quality, and praised for their driving virtues. The interiors were pleasant, light and roomy, offering room for six people. In the back there was ample space to stow the luggage, with a nice flat floor. Lifting the boot’s floor mat, one found the spare wheel, recessed in the fuel tank. In the station car (called “Break” or “Tourist”), there was a rigid metal floor panel to cover the spare wheel area. On the top model, this panel was equipped with folding feet so that it could be used as a picnic table (see picture). But believe me, that was quite heavy and not so easy to handle a picnic table!  

station wagons

Press reviews of those days speak of “sports car-like handling because of a very modern rear axle.” Yes, with the demise of the Aronde, gone were the times of the leaf springs. Leaf spring cars are not known for their exact steering, but with the Aronde, when cornering sharply, one might experience the rear axle to “clap” (or jump).

1500GL

The newly conceived rigid axle had coil springs around the shock absorbers, then there were 4 arms whereby the two lower arms absorbed the acceleration and brake forces whilst the upper short arms were to keep the axle in place. A Panhard rod was to cope with the lateral forces. Regrettably, both the 1300 and 1500 lacked a bit of engine power to really reach the sportscar-regions.

Engines and gear-box

On offer were 1300 and 1500 engines, which were further developments of the venerable Rush:

Model Type Size SAE HP DIN HP Top speed
1300 312T 1290 cc 62 52 132 km/h
1500   1475 cc 81 69 145 km/h
1500 (late 1965)   1475 cc 84 72  

Both series had fully synchronised 4-speed manual gearbox with column shift.

Later, the 1500 could optionally be had with floor shift or introduced late 1965, an automatic Borg Warner 3-speed gearbox (type 35), for which the engine power was increased to 84 SAE HP / 72 DIN HP.

Differences between the 1300 and 1500

The 1300 had a slightly forward pointing front grille with 9 horizontal and 3 vertical bars, whereas the 1500’s grill consisted of 11 fine horizontal bars, slight recessed in the middle part. In comparison to the 1300, the rear bumper of the 1500 was extended to the rear wheel arches. The 1500 had chrome work on the door window frames.

1964 simca

Trim levels

Trim levels and version of cars usually differ from one country to another. Talking about the Dutch market only, the Simca ‘00 had four trim levels, which varied little over the years.

First, there were the 1300 / 1300 GL and 1500 / 1500 GL.

In 1966 this was altered to 1300L / 1300 LS and 1500 GL / 1500 GLS. The Station car could only be had with the 1500-engine  (in 1966 the 1500 Tourist and 1500 Tourist GLS)

simca 1300

To give an impression, in 1966 the base model for the 4-door sedans was the 1300L (choice of 6 body colours, upholstery standard jersey (see picture) or optionally vinyl). Next was the 1300 LS (choice of 9 body colours, upholstery standard cloth or vinyl, optionally aérolon).

The 1500 had the GL and the GLS, which were clearly more luxurious – if that is the right word – with features like more comfortable seats with fully reclining backs. They had more brightwork as well. Again, nine choices of body colours was available. The GLS was clearly a top version, with the imitation wood lacquered dashboard instead of light grey.

simca 1500 GL

The end

Production of the ’00 ended after the introduction of the new ’01-series late 1966. Only one model soldiered on for another year, being the 1300L, which functioned as cheap entry model for the Simca middle class sedans. 

1966 seats

’00 Options

Options were apparently not wanted in those days, as I could not find info on this subject. The catalogues speak of optional upholstery but that’s it. White wall tires and radial tires (I recall my father driving on Michelin X- tyres) were optional, as must have been the roof rack on the station car.

THE NEXT GENERATION: Simca 1301 – 1501

The second series, introduced in late 1966, was built until 1975.

This second series was not the new car you might think it to be but it did certainly look new! That was achieved by a very clever and successful redesigning job, which made the car look longer and sleeker. Apart from trim levels, from the outside one could in fact only distinguish a 1301 from a 1501 by the shorter rear bumper.

1968 Simca 1501 GLS in twilight

From the designer’s point of view: the middle part of the car was unchanged (doors are interchangeable between first and second series). On the C-pillar, vent openings were placed, changing the look of the car. These vent openings however, were not a design gadget but a practical improvement for the passenger environment. 

1301 interior

The sheet metal of front and rear was new, although the front fenders were only slightly altered to house the new indicators. The hood was bigger and flatter with some cleverly drawn profiles, which added much to the grown up look of the car. At the rear, the boot was slightly stretched but as rear fenders were more edgy and the boot lid plain, the car looked bigger than it really was. New rectangular rear lights included back up lights on the more expensive models.

Speaking of back up up lights: maybe you wondered why cars in France had orange lenses where you had clear lenses for back up lights in other countries. This was because of French legislation stipulating that no white lights were allowed at the rear side of a car. This changed in the early Seventies, but headlights remained yellow until the European Union.

poissy plant

Other national legislation resulted in cars on the Italian market to have no orange indicators at the front (ever noticed that Simca 1100 (1204 in the USA) have lose orange inserts in their indicator lenses, like have VW-Busses up to 1972.) On the contrary,  in Western Germany cars were not allowed to have white indicators (that’s why Simca’s Aronde, Ariane, and 1500 were altered to have orange indicator lenses). 

On the interior, an attractive new flat dashboard gave a modern and roomy look. The new dash had a sliding speedometer with other dials next to it. For the rest, nothing sensational happened although the seats got new patterns.

1501 dashboard

On the technical field, nothing really new was to discover. The engines of the previous series were carried over practically unchanged.

Model year 1969 brought the new 1501-version called Spécial. On the outside, it was recognisable by two round fog lights (Cibie) mounted on the front bumper. For this model, the 72 DIN HP engine was upgraded to 81 DIN HP, a real improvement. This engine is known as type 342S. 

1969 simca 1501 spécial and tourist spécial

The dashboard was the same as the GLS: it had the small rectangular clock in the middle of the dashboard and an inox decoration on the lower part of the dashboard, including the cigarette lighter. The difference with the GLS was 3-spoke sports car like steering wheel with aluminium spokes and wooden rim. As the steering wheel had no provision for activating the horn, at the left hand side on the dashboard you found a tip stick to sound the horn.  Another extra was a midconsole with a grille for the optional speaker of the radio. Who in those days thought of car stereo....?

Simca 1501 interior

By the way: until 1970 the there was no provision for the radio: with the 1300/1500 and early 1301/1501, it was mounted under the dash in an accessory casing.

The next model year already saw a real face lift for the 1501 Spécial, as, again by clever designing, simply by reshaping the grille, the car got a new look. In place of the common anodised grille, a rectangular mould housed two rectangular yellow projectors, all mounted on a “invisible” black grill.

All 1970 models received an attractive completely new dashboard whereby the sliding speedometer was replaced by a more contemporary version with four round dials in a mock wood face. It gave a sportive and modern look.

1971 saw introduction of the 1301 Spécial, which did not get the new Spécial-face until model year 1972. 

Model year 1972? The 1301/1501 were originally planned to be replaced around 1971 by the new  Simca 1800.  However, this 1800 never came; instead came the French Chryslers. Because their lack of success, the 1301/1501’s production life had to be extended until in 1976 a real successor appeared: the Simca 1307/1308. Not surprisingly, no real alterations were applied to the 1301/1501 in their last years.

Weight

1301 Sedan approx. 990 kgs, 2,182 pounds
1501 Sedan approx. 1.010 kgs, 2,227 pounds

late Simca ad Simca factory in 1969

 Engines

Model 1301: 1290 cc, 62 SAE HP / 54 DIN HP, top speed 133 km/h;
Model 1501: 1475 cc, 81 SAE HP / 69 DIN HP, top speed 146 km/h.
In the last years, the 1301 had 67 DIN HP and the 1501 73 DIN HP

Trim levels: (Dutch market)

Model 1967: 1301 LS, 1301 GL, 1301 GLS, 1501 LS, 1501 GL, 1501 GLS (No data on the station cars)
Model 1968:  1301 LS, 1301 GL, 1301 GLS, 1301 Tourist LS; 1501 GL, 1501 GLS, 1501 Tourist GLS
Model 1969: 1301 LS, 1301 GL; 1501 GL, 1501 Spécial, 1501 Tourist Spécial
Model 1970 : (no data)
Model 1971: 1301 LS, 1301 Spécial, 1301 Tourist Spécial; 1501 Tourist Spécial
Model 1972 : (no data)
Model 1973 : (no data)
Model 1974 : 1301 Spécial, 1301 Tourist Spécial; 1501 Spécial, 1501 Tourist Spécial
Model 1975 : 1301 Spécial, 1301 Tourist Spécial; 1501 Spécial, 1501 Tourist Spécial

’01 Options

I could not trace back much information on this, apart from the automatic gear box. For 1969 mentioned options were a rev counter and (yes) alloy wheels. Later the pretty vinyl roof appeared. Radio and antenna you had to arrange yourself through the car dealer, as with items like towing hook and safety flashers (until the “panic lights” became standard later).

On the market and the end

The ’01 did well at first but did not match the success of its predecessor. Although the body was fresh, the technique quickly became outdated. The old engines, in fact still updated Rushes, had side-mounted camshafts and were notoriously loud because of the rattling caused by the rocker arms.

The ’01 was scheduled to be replaced by the new Simca 1800 in 1970/1971. The Simca 1800 however never saw the light of day but due to company-internal hasling, in its place came the new Chrysler France models 160 – 180. Due to disastrous marketing, these turned into a total failure. For more information on these models, we point you to the related pages on the Allpar-site.

Apart from all company internal politics, the 160 –180 (although a nice car in its own right) was simply far too big to be a successor to the ’01 one way or another. It did not even have a station car version. The failure of the new 160 –180 led to the decision to rush back in production the 1301!

The successor

Finally, in 1976, a new car that maybe considered the Simca’s 1301/1501 real successor appeared: the promising all new Simca 1307/1308. These indeed were modern and very comfortable cars (again: no station car) but it appeared that two old problems were carried over: rust (as all Simca’s) and bad gearboxes (from the 1100).

To finish it off, came the very unwise company decision to rename Simca into Talbot. Nobody (not even me as a Simca-fan) considered Simca’s anything like the cars of the famous old brand Talbot. Nobody understood what Talbot had to do it – it sounded almost alien. Anyway, the public laughed at the rebranding exercise.

This re-branding was exactly that what Simca could not use: for sure this speeded up the end of Simca that for so long had been a good company and a good brand of cars. But that is a different story.

Weak points and observations

Although my parents and me had six ‘0s and ‘01s between 1963 and 1980, I do not recall real mechanical problems or other design shortcomings. Or it should be the small guiding wheel for the column mounted handbrake. This small wheel in the engine bay at the bottom of the steering column, guides the hand brake cable to corner a sharp angle under the car to the rear wheel brakes. Because of the high forces working on it, the wheel may come off on older cars, leaving it without a handbrake.

Looking in “TÜV-Autoreport 1973”, a yearly on the data from the German Car Inspection Dept., no “sensational” values could be found. Mentioned over-average weaknesses (compared to comparable cars) were in the categories break leads / break hoses and steering leverage and of course the bodywork of checked cars that were 4 – 6 years old.   

One serious problem that I however know about  (by personal experience, I must admit), is one that may cause fatal engine problems on older cars. To explain the construction: the middle cam shaft bearing (remember: those were pre-overhead camshaft days) is lubricated from below through a small lubrication hole. The bearing itself has a keyway and from here a lubrication canal all the way up to the rocker-arm shaft.

When the car gets older, normal wear of the camshaft bearings causes the oil pressure to get lower. A at certain moment, because of the way the lubrication system layout (see above), the will not or insufficiently reach the rocker-arm. The result is that the rocker-arm runs dry by lack of lubrication. This damage is indicated by a nasty clapping sound at the side of the engine. It means a lot of work.

In the same line of trouble, I was told that the camshaft itself could run dry because of oil residues, clogging lubrication canals but if some of the readers know better, please correct me.

The four-speed gear boxes do not cause problems, in sharp contrast to the later Simca 1100 (in US the 1204), which only seemed to have a 3rd gear until the one year warranty was over. A point of  worry however can be the wear of  the guidings of shifting rods that may lead to a failing synchronisation of 2nd gear.

The old but venerable engine was not meant for high revs, mainly because of its rattling,  however reliable and easy to maintain. It has a centrifugal oil filter at the end of the crank shaft. This oil filter also acts as a wheel to drive the V-belt for the water pump and generator

As the cars had 4-speed gear boxes, at 125 km/u, the rev counter would indicate 4.500 RPM. Generally, fuel consumption we experienced was about 1 litre on 10 to 11 km (23.5 mpg).

I recall that my father drove two 1500s and one 1501 Spécial between 1964 and 1971. He bought them new and after two, maybe three years, he traded them in for a new car. By then they had around 120.000 km (74,564 miles) experience, which was considered quite something. My father always made sure his cars were well maintained (“Look well after your car and it will look well after you.”) but they really had to work for their money, so to speak. At the end, they still looked fresh but were a little bit tired.

For those who bought a 1301 Automatic, there was disappointment: the Borg Warner automatic gear box was far too heavy for the 1.290 cc engine. Because of the continuous strain to get the car moving and keep it moving, the engines in these cars had limited lives. The automatic version was considered incredibly slow.

Apart from this, the car handled well and was in fact understeered. Lack of engine power contributed to this of course, it really was no drifter. The steering, the suspension and the brakes made it an easy car to drive, one that you could do not much wrong with.

About handling the car: the handbrake was operated by a telescopic handbrake stick at the lower part of the steering column. This originated from the days of the full front bench and was not such a problem itself. However, if you wanted to make a 180° spin with the car, operating the handbrake was not easy, as you had to lean forward to grab it.

When considering the body work, one word immediately comes to mind: RUST.

Yes, yes, Simcas DO rust, in fact they do rust very well!

Common rust prone areas are the front fenders around the head lamps were mud builds up, around the front indicator housing, lower ends of the front fenders, lower parts of the doors, wheels arches in the rear fenders and the sheet metal below the rear bumper. Other very vulnerable areas are the under sills and jacking mounts. These jacking mounts are rectangular tubes mounted under the sill. In these mounts, dirt, mud and moist find an undisturbed place to linger and do their fatal work. When you want to change a flat tire or inspect a brake, never go and simply use the original jacking mount on a ‘00/’01 because you assume it is there to function: you may experience that halfway jacking up the car a short cracking sound precedes your Simca coming down again without your permission! More often, after managing to place the jack (if the mount is still there), when starting cranking, the jack goes up, not the car. 

Not surprisingly, the front floor pan at the outer sides may provide you with an unwanted glimpse of the asphalt below. 

Like with the later Chrysler France 160 – 2 litres, rust could cause the head lamp back plate to rust away so bad that there would be nothing left to fix the head lamp anymore. Another weak point are the metal clips, especially for the front chrome strips like on the Spécial.

Notorious are the door locks: after a few years, corroding of the metal alloy causes the locks to wear out terribly so that you can open the door with any key – Simca or not.

Is it a classic? The ’00 and ’01 nowadays

In general, it can be said that the 1300 – 1500 were good cars for their time, as was the 1301 – 1501 but the latter became quickly outdated, especially with their bad reputation regarding rust and an engine that had become old fashioned. Unfortunately, no real successor came for the series.

Nowadays, the ’00 and ’01 are undervalued – in my personal opinion. For those who want to own a classic car, a Simca ’00 or ’01 could be a good choice. You have to have a watching eye for rust. But if you are prepared to do that plus treat the car with a bit more love and consideration than one usually does with one's daily diver, you will be surprised by the Simca’s fun to drive, it’s reliability and simplicity in maintenance.

Due to its rustablility and underappreciation, a fine ’00 or ’01 is not easy to find nowadays. Still, prices are generally very reasonable.

Unfortunately, many Simca’s driving around today are not in their original state. To my personal opinion, they are often spoiled: wrong or mixed up interiors,  CD-player, big speakers (remember, you have to make big holes in your classic car to accommodate those), oversized rev counters rudely screwed onto the dashboard, modern fog lights and other extras that are of the wrong style.

A factory original car maybe preferable, but a car does not have to be that original to be a nice car or to be desirable. If items like extra gauges that help you to monitor the condition of your car or a nice set of alloy wheels that are or look like to be period, who could object to that?

On the other hand, a car hobby is expensive enough so one cannot expect any owner to simply spend money to get his or her car in original condition. Also practical reasons may count.

Chassis numbers, production-numbers

On the site of the French Simca Club, I found a really excellent listing of production types, chassis numbers and production numbers by Mr. Bellanger (if I am right). The exact site is: http://membres.lycos.fr/simca1500/ If your French language skills aren’t up–to-date, simply take “page 2”

In this list, you see clearly which types were produced. As usual, marketing dictates different programmes of delivery for different countries. For example, I never saw a 1300 Station car here in the Netherlands. Also, I would have loved to own a station car of the U-series (“U” for “Utility”) like is illustrated on site mentioned above.

Handbooks

I cannot tell you too much on this subject, however I have in my possession two items of ”Revue Technique Automobile”: one on the 1300-1301 of 1963 – to Dec. 1969 and the other one on the 1501 GL & GLS 1970 and the Spécial of 1969 + 1970

Scale models

As the Simca 1300 – 1500 was a very popular car in its days, several scale models were issued. However, its successor the ’01 apparently wasn’t considered to be a real innovation, so no scale models were made, at least (as far as I know) until the early 90s (by Norev, both in 1:87 and 1:43). These modern models I have not listed.

Dinky Toys France No. 523  - Simca 1500 Sedan, 1/43, metal
Produced in metallic grey and light blue, both with red interiors. As a model, the roofline is too high, giving too big windows. (See the picture below, showing the original box the model came in.)

dinky 1500

Dinky Toys France No. 507 – Simca 1500 GLS Station car, scale 1/43, metal
This a heavy and very accurate model. It has not side strips of the later GLS’s. A nice detail is the opening boot with sliding window and the camping table with feet like the original has. (See the picture below, showing the original box the model came in.)

dinky wagon

Polystil (Italy) No. ... – Simca 1500 Sedan, 1/43, metal
Blue metallic with red interior. Opening front doors, opening bonnet. It is not a very good looking accurate model  but a suprising detail are the very accurate wheels

Unknown brand from France -  Simca 1300 Sedan  (1/20?), plastic
Blue. The body is very accurate but with a disappointing quite flat metal interior, as was common in the ‘60s. Maybe there was a version with opening boot and bonnet but with the model I know, these were screwed to bottom plate. Only the front windows could slide open.

Minix (GB) No. 9 -  Simca 1300 Sedan, 1/76, plastic.
Dark blue with grey interior. A pleasing  model, especially when you look at contemporary car models

Norev  (F), No. ... - Simca 1500 Sedan, 1/86, plastic
Light yellow, no interior. Not the greatest of models but that was what the standard was back then.

Links

Well, should my article have been able to deepen or even trigger your interest in the Simca 1300/1500 and 1301/1501 series, why not visit some other websites and discover some more Simca?  There are many people out there who know a lot more about Simcas than I do. May I recommend just a few websites:

From The Netherlands: http://www.simcaclub.com/

From France:

From Great-Britain: http://www.rootes-chrysler.co.uk/

prototype

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