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Simca and Chrysler Benelux

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Simca and Chrysler Benelux

By way of a construction, Chrysler took over 15% of the shares of Simca, it was the part Ford had since Simca took over Ford S.A.F. (Ford France). Besides that, they agreed that Chrysler would sell Simca's in the USA and that they would co-operate on technological field and that both parties would use the assembly lines. Simultaneously with the negotiations with Simca, Chrysler also negotiated with the Nekaf. Chrysler wasn't prepared to take over the shares of the firm, but chose a different construction; the Nekaf was liquidated.

The consequences of the take-over by Chrysler

With the Dutch army they agreed that they would speed of the delivery of the remaining Jeeps. A next order for the delivery of Jeeps was assembled at Van Twist in Dordrecht. Because Ford had sold its shares, it lost the rights on the distribution and assembly of the Vedette outside France. At last the Simca dealers outside France could deliver more models than just the Aronde. Because of that the Vedettes weren't assembled and distributed by Ford in Amsterdam anymore. With this, they got the opportunity to assemble the Vedette and Ariane in Rotterdam, at the former Nekaf plant. In October 1958, the first Beaulieu left het assembly line. Because the Ariane was also taken into production, they now had all the base models of Simca in their program.

The workshop of garage Smelt in 1960; collection Frans Smelt The workshop of garage Smelt in 1960; collection Frans Smelt The Simca assembly in 1960

Chrysler decided to close their assembly lines in Antwerp and move the production to Rotterdam. From the end of '59, the first Chryslers left the assembly line. For the Distribution of Simca, a new firm was founded, Simca Nederland N.V. It was situated at the "Jan van Riebeeckweg" in Schiedam. (near Rotterdam) The assembly of he Simca models was being raised considerably. When Chrysler took over the factory, 2000 Simca's were built in the past year, the year after that, 7000 carst left the factory. This production could be realised, because Simca delivered the bodies semi-knocked-down. They were transported to Rotterdam on special trailers over the "routes nationales".

The assembly of the Valiant in 1960 Arianes en Arondes on the assembly line Simca Nederland Schiedam

Due to that fact, the assembly of Simca's would end after a few years. Because of the institution of the European Community, import taxes dissappeared, and so did the financial advantage of assembly. At the end of 1961, the assembly of Simca's was stopped. The last ones that were built in Rotterdam were delivered in 1962. The total amount of 1.060 Beaulieus and Chambords, 2.870 Arianes and 31.037 Arondes were built.

The sales of Simca still increased. Especially the Simca 1000, which was introduced with a spectacular stunt in December 1961 (hanging under a helicopter), sold very well. The successor of the Aronde and Ariane, the 1300 and 1500 series were introduces in 1963. The new topmodell, the 1500, would be available hardly at the beginning of 1964. These models contributed to the further success of the brand. In October 1965, Simca Nederland imported the 50.000th Simca, a 1300.

The introduction of the Simca 1000 int the Netherlands Simca 1500 1964 The 50.000th imported Simca,a 1300

At the Sluisjesdijk, the place of the Simca's was taken up by Saab, with had made a deal for the distribution with Chrysler. (Sweden didn't join the European Community at that time), but it was for a short period. In 1963 it stopped, after 570 were produced. From this moment on, they concentrated on the production of Chrysler models. Most of them were American "compacts" like the Plymouth Valiant and the Dodge Dart, but also the bigger "conventionals" and the more sporty Plymouth Barracuda were assembled. Although the 50.000th car, which was built by Chrysler, left the assembly line in 1968, the end of the assembly came in sight. Because of the G.A.T.T. treatment of 1970, taxes on the import of American cars disappeared, so there wasn't a financial advantage on assembling them, therefore it was stopped in 1970. The end of the factory was delayed some time, because of the assembly of.... a Simca.


The last revival of Chrysler Benelux

Because of capacity problems of the Simca plant in Poissy (probably because of the successful 1100), they decided to complete the 1200 S in Rotterdam. Bertone built the bodies of that type, so they had to be transported anyway. In Rotterdam they added a new option, a vinyl roof. They had a lot of experience with that, because a lot of Chryslers had that option. In 1971 the last 1200 S was assembled in Rotterdam. A number of 3114 had been built. In October 1971, the buildings were sold to a shipping company.

Valiant Signet 1964 Plymouth Barracuda The Simca 1200S Bodies at the Waalhaven © Dick Ploeg

A piece of Dutch car-history, in which Simca played an important role, came to an end. Nearly half of the 86.406 cars that had been built were Simca's. (2176 Dodge trucks had also been built) especially the amount of Arondes is very large. More than 1/3rd of the production had been of that type. That is surprising because most people only known the factory because of the production of Jeeps for the Dutch army. Because of the Dutch assembly, Simca became well known relatively early. That could be one ot the reasons why the Netherlands became such a successful export market for Simca. In 1965, for instance 16.563 Simca's were sold, only in Western Germany, countries with a considerably larger population, they sold more (19.665 and 18.938). In the years after that, the success was extended further.

Simca 1200S Coupé the 100000th imported Simca, an 1100 The new building of Simca Nederland situated at the Breevaartstraat in Rotterdam

More success for Simca in the Netherlands

In October 1967, the next successful Simca, the 1100, was introduced in the "Kurhaus" in Scheveningen. The sales went so well, that the 100.000th Simca, an 1100 could be imported in the summer of 1968. With the 10th anniversary of Simca Nederland, they moved to a new building at the Breevaartstraat, again in Rotterdam. There was also the distribution centre, the service school and the spare parts centre.

This was the start of a new successful era, especially the 1100 became very successful. For a short time it was the most sold car in the Netherlands. The next highlight was the introduction of the Chrysler Simca 1307-1308, which was chosen "car of the year 1975- 1976". Though the first problems appeared in those days. Because of the indistinct model-policy, but especially because of the poor quality of the body, they started to loose customers. The cars had a short life. This did no good for the brand, certainly because the Japanese brands became a more serious competitor. The sales in the Netherlands went down strongly.

Instructionroom Instructionroom The Horizon and the Aronde stood side by side, at the jubilee of the Rai in 1979

The end of Simca in the Netherlands

Meanwhile Chrysler had become in big financial trouble, so it was forced to sell its European establishments (including Simca). PSA (Peugeot-Citroen became the new owner, a year after that, the name was changed to Talbot, the exclusive brand that had been taken over by Simca in 1958. When the sales and distribution of Talbot and Peugeot was merged, the import moved to Utrecht. With that, Talbot-Simca left Rotterdam. At last the brand appeared not to be saveable, in 1986 it disappeared from the market.

The car exhibition (RAI) in Amsterdam can be assumed as the last highlight of Simca in the Netherlands. On the 8th of February Chrysler France received the "car of the year award 1978-1979". There also was an exposition in which a recent model was placed near its ancestor of 25 years before. That's why a new Horizon was placed next to the Aronde. For a short time people could fresh up their memories of the time of the Nekaf assembly. It was the last time Simca was present at the RAI.

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