The Simca 180 and Centura: Orphans of the Road
based on a story
sent to Allpar
The Simca 180
was an automotive orphan. It was to have been Rootes Group's English-made replacement for the big 1960s Humbers; but Rootes was having financial problems with the Imp's reliability.
At the time, Chrysler owned the majority of both Rootes and Simca. It presided over the launch of the Simca 1100, which became France's best selling car in 1971. It created the front wheel drive, transverse engine hatchback segment, later copied by the Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf (some claim that the famed Golf GTI was named after the Simca 1100 Ti - as in, "Golf Ti.") It was an advanced car, with disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and a torsion bar suspension in both front and rear; it had standard reclining bucket seats and radial tires.
The 1970 Simca 180 was technically advanced for the time - 1.6, 1.8 and 2-litre overhead-cam engines (the UK never saw the 1.6, and the 2-litre was always with 3-speed auto), disc brakes all round, and swoopy styling that aped Chrysler's US designs. The Australian Centura version had two rectangular headlights as opposed to four round ones but was otherwise identical.
The 180 (1.8) was released first in the UK, with the 2-Litre released two years later. They were comfortable cars with soft seats in the French tradition, but the UK masses bought cars like the Rover 2000 and Ford
Granada instead. As the British didn't want it, the Simca 180 was passed to France, which also didn't want it, so it ended up in Spain, where it sold well.
By the mid-1970s Chrysler UK was in financial crisis and needed government cash (as British Leyland had) to release the subcompact Sunbeam (spun off the Avenger chassis) and build the Horizon
and Alpine. Chrysler sold off Simca and Rootes Group to Peugeot in 1978.
Ken Westmoreland pointed out that Carrocerias PV did station wagon conversions on the Chrysler 180 in Spain - click here for details (not at allpar).
The Simca N9TE engine
Andrew Minney wrote that the 2156 cc engine found in the Peugeot 505 Turbo dates back to the 160/180 2 litre Simca design. The Citroen BX P, M, Rally, 4TC Serie 200 and 4TC Evo cars used this engine, as did the Matra Le Mans sportscars, Matra Murena, and some of the Matra F2 cars; it was used until 1986. In the Matra Murena, with a turbocharger, it would in its original form produce 155bhp @ 5200rpm.
Simca clubs and organizations • Overview of Chrysler Europe.
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