1963 Abarth 1300 SIMCA-Abarth
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For 1962, Abarth entered into a partnership with French automaker Simca to produce a new sport coupe. Simca was already closely tied to Abarth’s usual partner, Fiat, so it was a natural move. For the new model, Simca sold unibody chassis from its 1000 sedan to Abarth who then shortened the floorpans and installed their own engine and running gear to produce the new Abarth-Simca 1300.
All Abarth-Simca 1300s were two-door, two-seat, aluminum-bodied fastback coupes. The engine was an Abarth-built 1288 cc twin-cam four with an aluminum head and hemispherical combustion chambers. The engine was rated at 125 hp with dual Weber carburetors and delivered power through a four-speed manual transmission. It was mid-mounted longitudinally and drove the rear wheels. Girling disc brakes were used on all four corners, and magnesium wheels came standard. Suspension, however, was all from Simca with a transverse leaf spring in front, and a trailing arm design in the rear.
While Abarth-Simcas were both gorgeous and quite competitive on track in the small displacement classes, they suffered from reliability and drivability issues as well as their jaw-droppingly high price. Standard production Abarths sold between $7,000 and $8,000 in 1963, which was almost twice the price of a new Corvette. Original prices are not listed for the Abarth-Simca, but they would have been at the top end of that scale, or higher. Thus, the Abarth-Simca never caught on for street use.
When Simca was acquired by Chrysler in 1965, the program was terminated and some partially-built cars were released to various interested parties and these have turned up from time to time with various different engines installed. Production figures are not known, but it’s safe to say that the total number was small. Parts availability today is fairly difficult compared to the Fiat-based Abarths. In its various guises, though, the Abarth-Simca amassed a solid motorsports resume, and race history translates to collectibility.