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Simca Arond

The Simca Aronde was a family car manufactured by the French automaker Simca from 1951 to 1963. It was Simca's first original design (earlier models were all to a greater or lesser extent based on Fiats), as well as the company's first unibody car. "Aronde" means "swallow" in Old French and it was chosen as the name for the model because Simca's logo at that time was a stylized swallow.

Generations

There were three generations of the model: the 9 Aronde, made from 1951 to 1955, the 90A Aronde, made from 1955 to 1958, and the P60 Aronde, which debuted in 1958 and continued until the model was dropped in 1964. Some 1.4 million Arondes were made in total, and this model alone is largely responsible for Simca becoming the second-biggest French automaker at the end of the 1950s.

9 Aronde

The first Aronde debuted in the Spring of 1951 but was available for sale only from October 1951. It was fitted with a front-mounted 1221 cc 44.5 bhp (33.2 kW) engine from the previous Simca model, the Simca 8, fuel feed being provided by a Solex 32 carburetor. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a traditional four-speed manual gear box incorporating synchromesh on the top three ratios. The car had independent suspension at the front using coil springs, with a live axle at the rear, suspended using using semi-elliptic leaf springs. Hydraulically operated 9.85 in (250 mm) drum brakes were used all round.

Body styles consisted of a four-door saloon and a three-door estate (branded initially as the "Aronde commerciale" and later as the "Châtelaine") with a horizontally split tailgate. There was also a two-door coupé coachbuilt by Facel. The Facel-built coupé was replaced for 1953 by a coupé based on the saloon Aronde body, called Grand Large, featuring a large three piece wrap-around rear window and a "pillarless" side window effect when both side windows were wound down.

A 2-door cabriolet conversion, prepared by the coachbuilder Figoni, was presented to the public for the 1953 model year in a display involving ballerinas, but it proved impossible to confer sufficient structural rigidity on this car without unacceptable cost and weight penalties, and Figoni's Aronde cabriolet was never produced for sale.

The 1952 Motor Show saw several manufacturers attempting to broaden the appeal of mainstream ranges with stripped down versions offered at a reduced price. The trend seems to have been started by Renault with their 4CV Service, and they were quickly followed by other automakers in including Rosengart and Simca. Simca's "Aronde Quotidienne" was offered from January 1953 with an advertised price of 630,000 francs, which was a saving of 45,000 against the previous base model (confusingly branded, even then, as the "Aronde Berline Luxe"). The interior of the Quotidienne was simplified and the heater disappeared, as did most of the exterior trim. Nevertheless, chrome headlight surrounds remained in place: importantly, too, buyers of the "Aronde Quotidienne" could still choose from the full range of body colours offered on the "Aronde Berline Luxe". The company was keen to stress that the stripped down Aronde was not as fully stripped down as the Renault Frégate Affaires (available only in black), the Renault 4CV Service or the Rosengart Artisane (these last two being offered only in grey).

The 9 Aronde was well received, especially in France. It took only until 17 March 1953 before total production of this model at the Nanterre plant passed 100,000.

The company's flamboyant boss. Henri Pigozzi, was keenly aware of the publicity that could be gleaned from the craze for record breaking runs. In May 1952 an Aronde broke five international records by covering a distance of 50,000 km (31,000 mi) at an average speed of 117 km/h (73 mph), and in August 1953 another Aronde, selected at random from the production line, returned to the Montlhéry circuit for a new record attempt whereby during the course of forty days and forty nights the car covered 39,242 laps which represented 100,000 km (62,000 mi) at an average speed of more than 104 km/h (65 mph). This achievement, which involved breaking more than 30 international records, was undertaken under the supervision of the ACF.

A car tested in France by the British Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 73.9 mph (118.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 30.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.1 miles per imperial gallon (8.28 L/100 km; 28.4 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car was reported to cost 970 Francs on the French market. It was not at the time available in the UK but the price was converted to £657.

90A Aronde

The second-generation Aronde debuted in October 1955. Externally it had an updated 9 Aronde body, with restyled front and rear ends. More importantly, the new Aronde was powered by the 1290 cc Flash engine. New trim levels, marketed as Elysée and Montlhéry (named after the Autodrome de Montlhéry) appeared. In October 1957, two new versions joined the Aronde range: the Océane, a two-door convertible, and Plein Ciel, a hardtop coupé, both with bodies by Facel. In January of the same year, the 500,000th Aronde was made, and the cars were now exported even to the USA.

An Aronde Elysee was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 and was recorded as having a top speed of 82.6 mph (132.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 23.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.6 miles per imperial gallon (8.67 L/100 km; 27.1 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £915 including taxes on the UK market. In 1960 they also tested one of the Montlhéry models. This had a slightly higher top speed of 83.6 mph (134.5 km/h), faster acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.6 seconds and a better fuel consumption of 35.0 miles per imperial gallon (8.07 L/100 km; 29.1 mpg-US). The test car cost £896 including taxes on the UK market.

P60 Aronde

The P60 Aronde saloons, presented in September 1958, had an all-new, modern-looking body. The estate was also updated with the new front end(with a resemblance to the 57 Ford Thunderbird), but retained the earlier rear. A new coupé joined the range - the Monaco - while a new, inexpensive version of the Elysee, powered by a 1090 cc engine, was added under the name Etoile. A new engine, the famous Rush 1.3 L unit with a five-bearing crankshaft, was fitted to the Arondes beginning from October 1960. A 70 hp version of the engine, called Rush Super, debuted in September 1961 in two models - the Montlhéry Speciale saloon and Monaco Spéciale coupé.

Australian production

The 90A Aronde was produced in Australia from 1956 by Northern Star Engineering which, along with Continental and General Distributors, had been contracted to assemble the model from CKDkits, using local content. In July 1959, Chrysler Australia announced that future production of the Aronde would be undertaken at its factories in Adelaide. In late 1959 the P60 was introduced, selling alongside the 90A well into 1960, and a five-door P60 station wagon was introduced in late 1961. The wagon, which was unique to Australia, was based on the four-door sedan and featured an extended roof-line and a tail-gate fitted with a wind-down window. Australian production of the Aronde ceased in 1964.

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