We were discussing the cars in “Tintin and the Seven Crystal Balls”. In my last post we saw that there was an attack on Marlinspike and the attackers fled in an Opel Olympia. The police placed a check-post and started inquiring cars coming from the opposite direction if a black Opel Olympia had crossed them. The first car they stopped was a Buick Series 90L. The second car was a Simca Cinq.
Simca was a French car manufacturer founded by FIAT which sold cars from 1934 till 1978. The company was founded in 1934 and was directed by Italian gentleman Henri Theodore Pigozzi till 1963. It was affiliated with FIAT but came under the influence of Chrysler after it bought Ford’s French operations. It became a subsidiary of Chrysler in 1970.
During world war II when France came under German occupation, the relationship of Simca with FIAT and Agnelli family’s political influence with Mussolini ensured that the factories of Simca suffered minimal damages and the company continued producing cars during the war, though in smaller numbers. Simca became one of the largest car manufacturers in France for whole of the post world war II period till it was taken over by Chrysler. Their model, the Simca 1100 was the largest selling car in France for a considerable period of time. Simca 1307 and Simca Horizon were awarded the European Car of the Year awards in 1976 and 1978 respectively. In addition to France, Simca manufactured cars in Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.
The brand became defunct in 1978 after Chrysler sold its European operations to PSA Peugeot-Citroen. PSA Peugeot-Citroen re-branded Simca cars as Talbots for a short period. Interestingly, when Tata Motors established their European car operations in the nineties, they had to change the company logo to the present logo as the old logo was near identical to that of Talbot.
Coming to the Simca Cinq or 5CV. It was a sister model of the FIAT Topolino. This car was sold from 1936 to 1948. Though the car was near identical to the Topolino, it was launched in France nearly three months before the Topolino was launched in Italy. Why do I say that the Tintin book depicts a Simca and not a FIAT. Well, it is a minor detail, the picture in the book shows front bumpers, which Simca had but Topolino did not.
It was a small two door two seat car with a wheel base of just 2,000 mm (78.7 inch) and a total length of 3,220 mm (126.8 inch). It was available as either a coupe or a cabriolet with a slide back roof.
It was powered by a puny 570 cc (34.78 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated inline four cylinder petrol engine which produced a modest 13 BHP. 27 N-m (20 ft-lb) of torque was transferred to the rear wheels through a four speed gear box. The car had advanced featured for its time like an independent front suspension and hydraulically operated drum brakes on all four wheels. The rear live axle was suspended on quarter-elliptic leaf springs. It also had a 12 V electric system.
This tiny car weighing just 750 kg (1653 lbs) could attain a maximum speed of 85 km/h (53mph). Interestingly, a two seat sports car, the Gordini Simca 5 was based on this car. It was a racing machine designed by Amedee Gordini in 1937. Amedee Gordini could achieve speeds up to 125 km/h (75 mph) by lightening the car and adding a special cylinder head to extract 23 BHP from the puny engine. This little rocket participated in 8 endurance races, including the mother of all sports car racing, the 24 hours Le Man. Out of these eight races, it won five in its category. Not content with winning races, Gordini went on to break 22 world records in 1937 including a 48 hour run at an average speed of 103 km/h (64 mph) using all but a 570 cc engine.