Simca Vedette

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Road transport

Simca Vedette
1961 Simca Vedette Chambord
Also called: Ford Vedette
Manufacturer: Simca
Production: 1954–1961
Class: Large car
Body style: 4-door saloon
5-door estate
2-door convertible
4-door convertible
Layout: FR layout
Engine: 2.4 L Aquillon V8
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Rush-Matic automatic
Related: Ford Vedette
Simca Ariane
Chrysler Esplanada
Similar: Ford Zodiac
Renault Frégate
Vauxhall Cresta
Opel Kapitän

The Simca Vedette was a large car, manufactured from 1954 to 1961 by the French automaker Simca, at their factory in Poissy, France. The Vedette was Simca's largest model at that time and it spawned a more economical version, the Simca Ariane.

Simca acquired the Poissy factory from Ford France (Ford Société Anonyme Française, the French subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company), along with the model line, in 1954. The Vedette was therefore initially still marketed as the Ford Vedette.

The Vedette was manufactured in Poissy until 1961 and the Ariane until 1963. After that, production continued in Brazil, where the Vedette finally evolved into the Chrysler Esplanada, following Simca's takeover by Chrysler.


In the early 1950s, Henri Théodore Pigozzi was looking to expand the manufacturing operations of his Simca company, which was enjoying much success at the time, thanks to the popular Aronde. At the same time, Ford was seeking to divest itself of its French subsidiary, Ford SAF, which had a factory in Poissy, close to Paris, where it had been manufacturing a large car called the Ford Vedette. The Poissy plant was large and there was capacity for further expansion. The Vedette was a larger car than anything that Simca had on offer at that time. These points attracted Pigozzi, who decided to take over the entire factory, along with the rights to the cars manufactured there.

The first Vedettes

Simca Versailles
1956 Simca Vedette
Also called: Simca Trianon
Simca Régence
Simca Marly
Production: 1954–1957
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Length: 4520 mm
Width: 1750 mm
Height: 1480 mm
Curb weight: 1150 kg
Fuel capacity: 60 L

The acquisition by Pigozzi took place in July 1954, just when Ford was poised to launch its new, modern Vedette, with a 4-door saloon body of 'American' style, much like the contemporary British Fords or Vauxhalls. The car was powered by an unusually small 2,351 cc displacement sidevalve V8 unit called Aquillon in France, which stemmed from Ford's Flathead engine family. Equipped with a two-barrel Zenith 32NX carburetor, it produced 80 hp, which slotted the car into the '13 CV' French tax class. Power was transferred to the rear live axle through a 3-speed manual transmission with column shift. The Vedette had independent front suspension (by MacPherson struts) and drum brakes on all four wheels.

As with the Aronde, Simca marketed different trim levels of the Vedette under different model names, this time with references to the grand period of baroque in French history. The basic version was called the Simca Trianon, the mid-level was the Simca Versailles and, atop the range, sat the Simca Régence. An interesting option on all those versions was a large glass moonroof that would slide into the roof, called Vistadome The Vedette range was still marketed under the Ford brand in some markets, including the Netherlands and Germany, until 1956.. As the new model caught on, Simca was able to increase production from the 150 daily achieved during Ford's ownership of the factory to 250 cars a day.

Pigozzi maintained a schedule of year-to-year model revisions, much like American manufacturers. For 1956, an estate version joined the line-up, called the Simca Marly and the whole range was revised. A new license plate holder was added to the front bumper and the rear license plate now concealed the fuel tank filler. A peculiar addition was a pedal-operated windscreen washer, while other more ordinary changes included a second odometer, also known as a 'trip meter', for measuring partial distances. The Versailles and Régence were made even more comfortable, with the addition of central armrests (Versailles in the rear only, Régence in front and rear), while the Trianon was simplified, losing bumper guards and chrome windscreen decor. In 1957, an option of the Gravina automatic clutch was added, along with more effective brakes and more direct steering. The Trianon regained the chrome decor around the windscreen, while the other models acquired slimmer tail lights and the front ornament was replaced with a new design. Fender-mounted V8 badges were introduced but, although the whole range featured the same V8 engine, the new badges appeared on the fenders of only the Régence and Marly.

Production figures

  • 1955 - 42439
  • 1956 - 44836
  • 1957 - 17875

New models

Simca Chambord
1960 Simca Beaulieu
Also called: Simca Beaulieu
Simca Présidence
Simca Marly
Production: 1958–1961
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Length: 4750 mm
Width: 1770 mm
Height: 1480 mm
Curb weight: 1260 kg
Fuel capacity: 60 L

After three years in production, the Vedette was given a new, elongated body, with a more ornate front end and large tailfins, making it even more American-looking than before. This was part of a styling trend shown by most large European cars of that period, which were, to some extent, inspired by American styling, as tailfins appeared on Peugeots, Fiats, BMC models ( Pinin Farina-styled), Fords and even Mercedes-Benz cars of that era. The engine was uprated to 84 hp (now called Aquillon 84) but the fiscal qualification of the car remained unchanged.

The three-year-old body of the previous Vedette found a new use, in April 1957. Fitted with the 1.3-litre Aronde engine, it became a new model in the Simca range — the Simca Ariane. Later, in October 1957, a V8 version with the Aquillon 84, called the Ariane 8, joined the range, replacing the Trianon. The Versailles was replaced by Simca Beaulieu and the Régence by the Chambord, while the estate retained the Marly name.

1959 brought a new option - the Rush-Matic automatic transmission. This transmission featured two modes: Rush (fully automatic) and Road (manual gear selection). The same year, assembly of the Vedette started at Simca do Brasil. Also during 1959, a new top-of-the-line model joined the Vedette range - the Présidence, featuring a luxurious interior, a radiotelephone (a European first) and a continental kit. French coachbuilder Chapron built two 2-door Présidence convertibles for a governor of one of the French colonies. Chapron had another order the next year, to build two four-door convertibles for the French President Charles de Gaulle himself. The Beaulieu was dropped in autumn 1960 but the other models remained unchanged until the 1961 model year, when they received new seats and new chrome decor and the engine was fitted with a new anti-vibration crankshaft.

Production of the Vedette ended in the Summer of 1961, with a total of 173,288 cars having been produced, although the model was continued for longer in Brazil. The Ariane survived until 1963, with 166,363 produced.

Production figures

  • 1958 - 28142
  • 1959 - 15966
  • 1960 - 13914
  • 1961 - 3813
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