After being without it for 4 1/2 months we put a well-known sports two-seater back on the read for the journey to the Daily Express Silverstone Meeting. However, the ride on the secondary roads which we covered in a hurry for the practice session showed up the discomfort of the ride, and the cold, wet weather made a roof and wind-up windows desirable.
Consequently, through the good offices of Gerry Ames, of Downtons, we arranged to swap the sports car on the Friday evening for a French Simca Aronde saloon. This provided entirely adequate performance and every possible comfort over the Silverstone weekend. It was also a very handsome-looking car to return to after long spells of reporting.
Like certain individuals, the Simca is unassuming and for this reason one is apt to overlook, as in the case of modest personalities, its good qualities. Yet these it certainly possesses. For a 1,221-c.c. car it is very roomy, it being possible to seat six if necessary on the deep, comfortable bench seats. It also has performance suggestive of at least a 1 1/2-litre, yet returns over 30 m.p.g. under lead-footed driving. It corners very nicely indeed, roll killed before vicious roll over-steer develops, the steering light, smooth and responsive, and the Dunlops making no protest. These handling qualities can, perhaps, he summed up by remarking that 44 miles were easily disposed of in an hour when I was tired after a 5 a.m, start and a long day “at the rates,” over the winding, hilly by-roads I cover to escape the post-Silverstone traffic.
Under these conditions the sureness of the hydraulic brakes gives complete confidence. Clearly the almost-square 45-b.h.p. o.h.v. engine has plenty of life, the acceleration being decidedly “usable”, in spite of pleasantly high gearing which safeguards the small engine from overworking. The steering-column gear-change is somewhat stiff, but satisfactorily substantial.
The Simca Aronde was fully reported on in Motor Sport last January but it seems that the car tried recently went better than its predecessor, because it would cruise at an effortless speedometer 70 m.p.h. (well over a mile-a-minute) and show 80 very easily, the true maximum being approximately 75 m.p.h. There was some noise transmitted over certain surfaces but the engine is notably quiet. Sixty is usual in third gear. Its performance figures certainly bear comparison with those of other under-1,300-c.c. cars.
The screenwipers failed on a wet night (fuse?), but a tiny crank handle is provided for such a contingency and vastly amused the children if not the driver!
There are certain shortcomings about some of the minor controls, as recounted in the full test report, but for those seeking a small-engined car of modern style and appointments, yet with sports-car gearing and handling qualities, the Aronde is it. It should be a quick rally car. The Simca is handled by Fiat (England) Ltd., Water Road, Wembley, and this attractive little French car with traces of Italian ancestry costs £896 9s. 2d. mit p.t. — W. B.