The Truth About Cars » Simca http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:25:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Simca http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1990 Plymouth Horizon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1990-plymouth-horizon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1990-plymouth-horizon/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704962 11 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, that’s not a typo— Chrysler made the Simca-derived Omnirizon all the way until the 1990 model year. I’ve been looking for a final-year example of an Omni or Horizon for quite a while now, and I finally found this one in a Denver self-serve yard over the weekend.
06 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWould you believe an airbag in this cheap little car, as early as 1990? Standard equipment for the ’90 Omnirizons!
05 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin5-speed, factory tach, no rust, only 114,325 miles on the clock.
12 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinVery, very rare, and an interesting bit of history, but not really worth saving from The Crusher.
17 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you want to split hairs, the Omnirizon outlived the original Chrysler K platform by a year (though cars based on the K were built until 1995). By 1987, the Chrysler 2.2— originally developed for the K-cars— was the only engine available in these cars.
Even with the airbag, the last-year-of-production Omnirizon wasn’t much different from the original 1978 version. The new Dodge Omni does it all!

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Plymouth Horizon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1987-plymouth-horizon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1987-plymouth-horizon/#comments Sat, 28 Sep 2013 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=529337 11 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler did pretty well selling Mitsubishi-derived products in North America, but the only platform from their European operations that was a hit over here was the Simca-based Omnirizon. These cars had a lengthy production run and you still see a fair number in wrecking yards these days; in this series so far, we’ve had this ’78 Horizon, this ’83 Dodge Rampage Prospector, this ’84 Turismo, this ’85 Shelby Charger, this ’86 Omni, and this this Shelby-ized ’86 Omni GLH. I’d really like to find a final-year-of-production 1990 model Omnirizon, but so far this ’87 is the newest example I’ve seen in the wrecking yard.
05 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost European and Japanese cars of this era had gone to six-digit odometers, but Detroit stuck with five-digit tradition until the 1990s.
07 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Omnirizon could be had with a Simca 1.6, a Volkswagen 1.7, or the Chrysler 2.2 originally developed for the K-car platform. By 1987, the 2.2 was the only engine available in these cars.
04 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one appears to be pretty well optioned. Automatic transmission, to siphon away some of those 96 Chrysler horses.
03 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir conditioning on a mid-80s econobox is an uncommon sight.
06 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe factory digital AM/FM radio probably pushed the out-the-door price of this car well into Aries-K territory, but how else could the buyer listen to the greatest hits of 1987?
01 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sentra, Civic, and Corolla (not to mention the Excel) were really stomping sales of Detroit subcompacts by 1987, but the Omnirizon (and the newly-acquired-from-AMC Jeep line) helped improve Chrysler’s bottom line a bit.


The pride is back!
JudgesAnimatedAs you’re reading this, three of your beloved TTAC writers are participating in the 24 Hours of LeMons race at MSR Houston. Sajeev and I are judging, Jack is racing. This one runs a straight 24 hours. What could possibly go wrong?

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Dodge Omni http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1986-dodge-omni/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1986-dodge-omni/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2012 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456857 Even after Chrysler debuted the company-saving K Platform in 1981, the older Simca-derived Omnirizon continued to be built in large quantities. Sightings of te Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon, and their many siblings and cousins are very rare today, but I still run across the occasional example in the wrecking yards. We saw this ’78 Horizon not long ago, plus this ’84 Turismo, and today we’ll take a look at an even later Omnirizon.
You could buy the Omni until 1990, just a few years after Chevrolet stopped building the Chevette. By that time, the straight-outta-1978 lines of the Omni were looking embarrassingly dated.
The Chrysler 2.2 engine had replaced the Simca and Volkswagen units used in earlier models by the time this car was built.
This car was about 1/100th as much fun to drive as the Omni GLH, especially with an automatic transmission slowing it down. Still, it functioned just as well as a Colt or Aries in the Point-A-to-Point-B driving world.

14 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Dodge Omni Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1984 Plymouth Turismo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/junkyard-find-1984-plymouth-turismo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/junkyard-find-1984-plymouth-turismo/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2012 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450253 The Simca-derived Omnirizon platform led to some sportier-looking variations as the Malaise Era ground to a close. The hatchback-coupe Dodge 024 and Plymouth TC3 became the Charger and the Turismo, respectively, in 1982. Turismos were never plentiful, and these days they’re nearly extinct. Here’s a rare example I found yesterday at a Denver self-serve wrecking yard.
The Turismo certainly stood out from the crowd in the middle 1980s, though the Omnirizon platform was getting a bit dated by that point.
By 1984, buyers could opt to replace the VW-derived 1.7 engine with Chrysler’s more powerful 2.2 liter engine. 96 horsepower was decent in a 2,300-pound car in 1984.
You can still find evidence of the car’s Franco-Chrysler heritage here and there.
The 1970s had been over for a few years when this car was sold, but the brown-on-brown tape stripes of the prior decade were able to hold on well into the 1980s.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Plymouth Horizon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1978-plymouth-horizon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1978-plymouth-horizon/#comments Sat, 26 May 2012 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=446120 Yesterday’s Junkyard Find was one of the better-known examples of the Simca-based “Omnirizon” platform, and you still see 80s Dodge Chargers here and there. What you won’t see often is today’s Junkyard Find, a first-year Plymouth Horizon. I found this one languishing in a Denver self-serve junkyard.
This car was the first true subcompact car Chrysler ever built in North America, and it (along with its Dodge sibling, the Omni, and the French-market Talbot/Simca Horizon) was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Prior to the Omnirizon, the only subcompacts sold by Chrysler in the United States had been rebadged Mitsubishis, Hillmans, and Simcas, all built overseas.
The Plymouth Horizon was an Americanized version of a Chrysler of Europe design, and it wasn’t any more miserable to drive than other front-drive subcompacts of the late 1970s (e.g., the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Rabbit, Datsun 310). If that sounds like faint praise, remember that expectations were lower during the depths of the Malaise Era.
The ’78 Horizon listed at $3,976, which was actually 200 bucks more than a new Plymouth Volaré two-door (but $250 less than a new Rabbit). With gas prices and inflation soaring year after year, however, the gas-sipping Horizon looked like a good deal next to the much thirstier (and not much roomier) Volaré.
You see some odd little luxury touches in this otherwise minimalist econobox. Look, “wood” on the glovebox door!
The Omni, Horizon, and their L-body variants continued production in the United States until 1990. By that time, the mid-70s-ness of the design had become a bit embarrassing for Chrysler.

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And the Real Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-real-winner-is-18/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-real-winner-is-18/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:35:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406223
40-year-old cars have an edge on the Index of Effluency, LeMons racing’s top prize. Chrysler products also have an edge. And, of course, French cars have a huge edge on the IOE. When you race a car that’s simultaneously 40 years old, a Chrysler, and French… well, just keep it running most of the weekend and the big trophy is likely to go home with you.

The SimcaCUDA, aka Le Mopar, is a 1971 Simca 1204, which could be purchased in Chrysler showrooms back in the day alongside rebadged Hillman Avengers and rebadged Mitsubishi Galants. What kind of madman would dare to race such a terrible car at brutal, hilly Thunderhill Raceway? We’re talking about Unununium Legend of LeMons honoree Spank, of course. This is Spank’s third Index of Effluency trophy, following his 998cc Austin Mini’s win at the ’09 Buttonwillow Histrionics and his 1971 Citroën ID19′s win at the ’10 Sears Pointless race (he went on to drive the Citroën from San Diego to Miami, in order to race it at the ’10 LeMons season-ender, so you know we’re dealing with a serious madman here).

The best part about the SimcaCUDA’s Index of Effluency win today is that second-place Eyesore Racing ran out of gas on the checkered-flag lap and was pushed across the finish line by the Simca (thanks to Dave Coleman for the photo). Congratulations, Le Mopar!

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Down On The Brazilian Street: 1969 Simca Esplanada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/down-on-the-brazilian-street-1969-simca-esplanada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/down-on-the-brazilian-street-1969-simca-esplanada/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2011 15:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=397912
I find it impossible not to get obsessed with the idea of a 1960s Chrysler product with factory-installed Ardun-hemi-headed Ford V8-60, and now TTAC reader Paolo has sent us some photos of his extremely clean Esplanada.

Four-on-the-tree, red upholstery, a snazzy V8 emblem on the horn button, and what appears to be a shortwave-band Chrysler radio in the dash. Imagine having this car and a Monteverdi Hai 450! Dudes with ordinary Chrysler Hemi cars of the era— you know, like a Hemi Road Runner or something— would dissolve like slugs in rock salt, from the overwhelming envy.

Chrysler of Brazil replaced the Esplanada with the Dodge Dart for the 1970 model year. The Dart was a fine car, but it’s unfortunate that Chrysler didn’t offer the Esplanada alongside the Dodge.

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The Other Chrysler Hemi: Simca Esplanada! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/the-other-chrysler-hemi-simca-esplanada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/the-other-chrysler-hemi-simca-esplanada/#comments Tue, 31 May 2011 20:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=396832
I love stories of American cars that take a weird journey to production in South America, preferably with a dash of European influence added during the journey’s many twists and turns. The Argentinean Renault Torino, a Rambler American with Jeep Tornado engine and Pininfarina rebody is a great example, as is the Willys Itamaraty, a limo-ized Willys Aero sold in Brazil by Ford. The list goes on, but perhaps the greatest, most convoluted tale of them all is that of the Simca Esplanada. How about a late-60s Chrysler product, based on a Dearborn-designed French Ford, with an Ardun-ized hemi Ford Flathead V8 under the hood?

If you read Portuguese, head on over to the Simca do Brasil history site; actually, you should head over there even if you don’t read Portuguese, because the gist of the Esplanada story comes through via the photographs. The Old Car Manual Project also has some Esplanada brochure scans.

It all started in the 1940s with the Ford Vedette. Ford France built this flathead-V8-powered postwar-Mercury-esque machine— incidentally, the first production car in history to feature McPherson strut front suspension— from 1948 through 1954. Ford tired of the constant strikes at the Poissy factory and sold the whole operation, including rights to build Vedettes as well as flathead V8s, to Simca. Simca made the Vedette in France into the early 1960s and in Brazil (as the Simca Chambord, main character of Brazil’s favorite highway-patrol-themed TV show) until 1966.

By that time, Chrysler had taken over Simca, which meant that machines sporting 1930s-vintage Ford V8s now sported Pentastar badging. Henry’s design had become a little long of tooth by the mid-1960s, so Simca budgeted the funds necessary to design and mass-produce an overhead-valve cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers, so as to bring the flathead into the (semi-)modern age.

The heads for the new engine (which Simca dubbed the Emi-Sul) were essentially copies of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s famous Ardun head, but with some performance-enhancing upgrades. The end result was a 140-horsepower OHV V8. Some flathead freaks over at the H.A.M.B. are importing these engines for use in their American hopped-up speed buggies, so we’ll probably start seeing Model Ts with Brazilian V8-60 power soon enough. Naturally, the Emi-Sul still has many fans back in Brazil.

Once the Emi-Sul was ready to go, Simca ditched the Chambord’s ’46 Merc-esque body and replaced it with a vaguely Dodge Coronet/Chevy Chevelle-influenced sedan body. A little blocky, but the Esplanada still had a helping of real Detroit style to go with its V8 guts.

Esplanadas were built for the 1966 through 1969 model years. We can assume that Chrysler management wasn’t particularly happy about selling cars equipped with Henry Ford’s V8s under the hood, not to mention the marketing problems associated with the Esplanada’s ancient design, and so Brazilian Dodge Dart production started that year.

Since I’m on a quest to adopt a Zaporozhets into my personal fleet, I won’t be sidetracked a search for a historically fascinating Ford-Simca-Chrysler sedan to drive around Denver… but it’s tempting.

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When You Have More Balls Than Sense: Road Racing a Dead-Stock 1971 Simca 1204 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/when-you-have-more-balls-than-sense-road-racing-a-dead-stock-1971-simca-1204/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/when-you-have-more-balls-than-sense-road-racing-a-dead-stock-1971-simca-1204/#comments Fri, 20 May 2011 02:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395433
When you’ve driven your $500 Citroën ID19 race car from San Diego to Miami and raced a Mini Moke-based Apollo Lunar Rover, where do you go from there? Why, you buy a furiously underpowered, 40-year-old Chrysler of Europe product and race it for 24 straight hours at a high-altitude road course packed with BMW E30s and V8 Detroit bombs. What else could you do?

The Henri ‘Cuda started out life as a 1971 Simca 1204. Chrysler, unable to manufacture a Detroit-designed subcompact that anyone in America would buy, was busy importing rebadged Mitsubishi Colt Galants and Hillman Avengers at the time, but they decided to throw some Simca 1100s onto American showroom floors as well. Simca wasn’t quite a household name in North America at the time, and sales were weak to put it mildly. The ’71 Simca 1204, as the American version was badged, packed 62 horsepower in a 1,204cc front-wheel-drive package (yes, MG fans, that’s the exact same rating as the 1,800cc engine in the ’71 MGB) and sold for $1,693. That was $139 more than the 1971 Fiat 850 sedan, but 222 fewer bucks than the ’71 Plymouth Cricket. Even a Pinto would set you back $1,919 in 1971, so the Simca was quite a deal.

However, the Simca was also a genuinely terrible little car, making even the purgatorially bad Pinto seem solid and luxurious by comparison. That means, of course, that a Simca 1204 starts a LeMons race with a huge advantage in the Index of Effluency trophy race; all a Simca team needs to do to grab LeMons’ top prize is to finish in, say, the top half of the field.

At the Sears Pointless race in March, the Henri Cuda took quite a while to get through the tech inspection and hit the track a bit late in the game. To be honest, it hit the track during the race’s final lap. Spank and his crew had high hopes for the Goin’ For Broken race.

Since it’s not possible to get any replacement parts for a Simca 1204, the Henri Cuda still had its 30-year-old ignition points, factory shocks, and everything else. In fact, other than the addition of a roll cage and a kill switch, the car was painfully, gloriously stock. That meant that the car was going to have a few reliability issues during the course of 24 straight hours of racing. Shift linkage problems and electrical woes required the services of the wrecker on occasion.

Eventually, the Race Director got tired of dropping full-course yellow flags in order to drag the Simca back to the paddock, and issued an ultimatum at about 2:30 AM: One more tow-requiring breakdown and that’s it. Spank and his crew decided to bench the car for a while, but eventually convinced the man in the tower to let the car back out.

It was by far the slowest thing on the track (its quickest lap of 3:44 was nearly a minute slower than the Killer Bees MGB’s best lap, so we’re talking serious slowness), but it also got the most respect from the crowd. Only 35 laps total; not enough for an Index of Effluency this time, but we can count on a strong IOE performance at the next race, now that most of the Henri Cuda’s bugs have been worked out. Well done, Team LeMopar SIMCAcuda!
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Weird Diecast Toy Car Bribes Continue To Flood The LeMons Supreme Court http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/weird-diecast-toy-car-bribes-continue-to-flood-the-lemons-supreme-court/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/weird-diecast-toy-car-bribes-continue-to-flood-the-lemons-supreme-court/#comments Fri, 04 Mar 2011 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=386167
As Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I receive many gifts from racers wishing to establish a foundation of mutual respect and understanding during the period in which I inspect the cars for possible cheating. The traditional judicial bribe tends to be a jug of top-shelf booze, but my drinking hasn’t kept pace with the intake of bottles of Stranahan’s bourbon and Zaya rum, and so I’ve been encouraging teams to bring weird diecast toy cars to lubricate the gears of justice. After the last round of LeMons Supreme Court diecast toy car bribes, I thought it would be hard to top the Leyland P76 and Moskvich 402, but the racers at the ’11 Southern Discomfort and the ’11 Gator-O-Rama have done so with the current crop of diecasts.

The Simca Aronde diorama looks nice on the surface, but it’s really the David Lynch movie of diecast car dioramas. When you look closely, the hitchhiker appears to be a cross between Frieda Kahlo and Sterling Hayden. The internal organs of the hapless Aronde driver will soon be pickling in fermaldihyde-filled jars in a shack off the main highway. Obviously, I love this judicial bribe.

This 1:18 scale ’66 Oldsmobile Toronado isn’t quite awesomely terrible enough for prime desk space in my office, but a 425-cubic-inch engine driving the front wheels via chains means I’ll find a spot for it.

This 1:40 scale Nissan Prairie was a gift from the team that ran a Prairie (badged as a Nissan Stanza Wagon in North America) in the Southern Discomfort race. If not for the performance of the NSF Racing ’62 Plymouth Fury, the Stanza Wagon would have taken the Index of Effluency award at that race.

Sure, it’s got some panel-gap issues, but check out the sliding side doors!

The real prize of this bunch-o-bribes has to be the 1962 Citroën HY van, which was held back as a reserve bribe by a team that waited until I really started sweating them over the dubious bookkeeping behind their car’s tasty aftermarket suspension parts. It’s in oddball 1:21 scale, which seems very French.

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