Most people associate Abarth with Fiat, but a very successful liaison was also formed with Simca. The French company was partly owned by Fiat, and when they wanted to appeal to a younger market with a more sporting image, they turned to the Italian giant for help. Fiat in turn went to Abarth, who received sponsorship from the larger company. A deal was struck whereby Simca shipped floorpans of their 1000 Sabour to Abarth, who then cut 4" out of the chassis and built handsome lightweight aluminum bodies around them. The engine was an all-Abarth 1300cc four-cylinder twin-cam unit which produced up to 140 bhp and was mounted in the rear, while suspension was nearly stock Simca 1000, incorporating a transverse front leaf spring with telescopic dampers and upper wishbones and rear semi-trailing arms a la Porsche. With this car, Abarth won the World Championship for Makes in 1962. The racing version of the Abarth Simca was developed throughout the 1960s, and the winning design was found to be more than a match for its competitors. In two-liter, 202 bhp specification, the Simca Abarth was easily able to beat the Porsche 904 on the track and won the European Mountain Climb Challenge outright. This particular Abarth Simca is in gloriously original condition. As part of the important Grell collection, this car was effectively withdrawn straight from its contemporary racing career into the safe and secure environment of the museum. Finished in the attractive period lime green color scheme, this early car is a rare example of one of the most competitive sports racing cars of the 1960s.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1961 Abarth Simca 1300 S1
Years Produced:1962-1965
Number Produced:300+
Original List Price:$6,500-9,000
SCM Valuation:N/A
Tune Up Cost:unknown
Chassis Number Location:on the right front inner fender, near the windshield
Engine Number Location:on the block below the carburetors
Alternatives:Fiat Abarth 1000GT Bialbero

The car pictured sold for $45,578 at the Barrett-Jackson/Coys of Kensington Auction on May 27, 2000 in Monaco.
Simca got its start in the ’30s, building basic Fiats under license. By the late ’50s, it was doing poorly with its bland (and not too reliable) sedans. It turned to Abarth to boost its image.
In ’61 Abarth took the four-door Simca Mille (944cc), bored the engine to 1150cc and added the usual Abarth stuff to make it go. Unfortunately, visually the car made the Edsel look like a brilliant stylistic success. Undeterred, the new partners pressed on. In 1962 the Abarth Simca 1300 was born. It had a brand new all-Abarth engine (cast-iron block, twin-cam alloy head, three main crank, and twin 45 DCOE9 Webers). The claimed horsepower was 130 at 8,000 rpm. The Simca Sabour chassis (shortened by Abarth), its archaic transverse leaf spring front suspension retained, complemented a four-speed gearbox, four-wheel disc brakes, and an attractive alloy body. A twin-plug, twin-distributor head was offered as an option (although I’ve never seen one), as was a six-speed gearbox.
It was an interesting but grossly overpriced car. In rapid succession, the 1300 second series was introduced (chopped tail, fiberglass nose), then the 1600cc (five main bearings) and in ’64 the two-liter 200 hp (with huge 58 mm Webers) was la piece de resistance. The primitive front suspension made the two-liter treacherous to drive, with the front end lifting at high speed. Chrysler bought Simca in 1965, which ended the noble experiment.
Epitaph: In ’67, the English Abarth distributor bought from the factory about forty engineless and partially finished cars. Finished with 124 Fiat push-rod engines, they languished unsold for years.
Regardless of the powerplant, the cars were lousy sellers from day one. They were very expensive and undriveable on the street. The factory cars won everything in carefully selected events, but there was zero support for the privateers. Spares were hard to get and very expensive.
This car, chassis 130S*0054, was definitely an early car: roundtail, single-plug head and four-speed gearbox. Recent paint (yellow fading to lime at bottom) hid the horrors that lurked below. It was described as “in gloriously original condition”-translation: needs a complete (and expensive) redo. In addition to the work needed, I could not find the chassis number-which does not help. Since I could not get an answer regarding the existence of FIA paperwork, which is crucial for a European car for competition eligibility, I assume that (as with most Grell cars) there was none.
Putting the value on an obscure car is an arcane art, about as accurate as reading tea leaves. These cars are seldom, if ever, on the open market. I know of one 1300 in the US, which is completely apart; the owner would sell it for $80K. (I call his price an exercise in the First Amendment.) I also know of two two-liter cars for sale in Europe: a “nice” French car for $80K, and a fully restored Italian car for $120K. Keep in mind that those are asking prices, and that “cash on the hood” works wonders everywhere, especially in Europe. It should be noted that both European cars have a six-speed gearbox. This is not a plus; the six-speed was the Achilles heel of the two-liter cars. Abarth Simcas are very rare (I prefer to call them obscure), and very difficult to sell at any reasonable price. Is the 1300 S1 worth $45,578 plus VAT (or US duty plus shipping)? Most certainly; but only if you absolutely, positively had to have it on that day. It was the only one on the market, and the two bidders might have been the only ones who cared. All things considered, this was a fair enough price for a car that will always attract some attention, even if it is just being trailered home from the Cento Ore de Modena with a broken gearbox.
(Photo and description courtesy of auction company.)

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