1960 Simca Aronde Etoile

Simca in the garage.


July 27, 1997

Purchased from Dan Klatt, Jr. in June, 1997, for the exorbitant price of $300, and billed as a 1954 Simca that had an engine that would turn over but not start and was otherwise not so bad. To get it from the Klatt's (former neighbors in Indian Village), I had to get it rolling first. Three of four wheels were seized, which is a common thing when cars don't move. The brakes were rusted, hence the wheels wouldn't roll. I ended up removing the drums from the right side brakes, and since the front left drum wouldn't come off, I just sprayed WD40 inside it. The back left only rolled because someone else had removed the drum. (This is a part I'll have to buy later. Damn.) I towed it to the house with the Subaru in 4WD mode, then pushed it into the garage, again with the Justy. Since then, I've washed it and tinkered with it a bit. The engine turns over very well, but there's no spark, so I imagine I need to mess with the distributor. From what I can tell, though, once the engine springs back to life, the car will run. It won't stop, but it will run.

The most time I've spent on the car has been at the National Automotive Historical Collection in the Detroit Public Library's main branch on Woodward, where they do, in fact, have everything. This research proved to me that my Simca is actually a 1960 model, specifically the low-end Étoile. The "Flash" 1.3 liter engine (a Fiat engine) has 48 bhp, and the transmission is a 4-speed manual with the shifter on the steering column. It's rear-drive, with a nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution from front to rear. At 2400 pounds, it supposedly gets 30mpg and will go as fast as 78mph. Original price was $1658.

Still no major work done it, though I did get it a battery and tried starting it. No spark, thus no start. After adjusting the points, I entirely forgot to re-tighten them, so I imagine I need to try that again. I did find a Simca owners' group (based in Ohio), which I should join so I can get a few parts I'll need. One brake drum (rear), the collar for the shifter, a few bits of trim, and a rear-view mirror, and it should be pretty well set, assuming no major defects show up. If they do, I'm sure the Simca group would be happy to part it out. I'm not desperately attached to the car or anything. Not yet, anyway.

...and the more time that goes on that I do nothing on the little beast, the more I figure I'll sell it to the club. It's easily justified by the simple fact that as the low-end model, it will never be worth anything. And frankly, I'm just not sure I want to screw around with trying to get the brakes on the thing working.

When we sold the house in Detroit, the car sort of had to go with us. So I contacted the organizer of the Simca club, who lives a few hours from Detroit in Ohio, and he came and got it for free. I'm frightened that he was thinking of restoring it to drivable condition, rather than parting it out to keep his nicer Simcas running, but that's his choice, I reckon.