1972 Simca 1100 Special 366 from Italy
Main bearing melting at 100000 km: failure due to the daily low mileage; oil was not able to become hot, producing a sludge which locked the oil channel of the 3rd main bearing. Changed all the bearings and purged the entire oil passages of the engine.
Reverse gear failure at 60000 km: failure due to water entered into the gear box; associated with no change of gear oil during 8 years after buying.
My father bought it new to replace his daily car. His work office was about 1 km from home: year after year - even if the oil was changed every 5000 km - the emulsions due to the insufficient lubricant heating became sludge. It finally locked the oil flow to the 3rd bearing, during a trip in 1985 running on the highway at 120 km/h (speedo at 4600 revs). I was at the wheel; as soon as I heard the "hammering" of the rod, I stopped the car and turned off the engine, saving it from a disaster.
Previously, my father indirectly damaged the gear, too: he had never owned a front wheel drive car before the 1100 Special, he was not experienced in how transverse engine cars need a periodical gear oil change especially to deplete water, the gear box being so close to the front wheel, which continuously splashes it with water. In the Simca 1100 the problem is amplified by the poor repair offered by the slim inner fender to the gear box.
Nevertheless, these two specific failures are indirect confirmations of the high reliability level of that car: no further problem was raised, and when I say no problem I really say no trouble or defect in more than 40 years. For example, I substituted the light bulbs not because they were off, but because their ampoule was blackened by the residue of the filament still working! Rust protection is very good for a car of its time and its price, even if our specimen has its shelter in a garage for the night.
Comfort is bad and good. Bad for the engine noise: I believe it is one of the noisiest cars of its time. Good for the suspension capability to absorb any kind of surface without annoying the occupants.
Driving is very good, too. One of the best cars of its time: cornering is firm, without any surprise, high stability and road holding. In combination with the comfort level, this is the best characteristic of this car. Still valid today, apart from the steering wheel heaviness during the parking.
Performance is good, even if - to remedy the 100-150 kg of weight increase in comparison to its competitors - the 4th gear ratio is too short for a 1.3 liter engine; good acceleration and speed, but this increases the noise of the engine, which is naturally noisy already at idle.
Economy is good: an average of 13 km/liter if you avoid running over 110/120 km/h, while holding 130 km/h in highway trips implies a less than 10 km/l mileage. Nevertheless, this is a standard for '60 or '70 cars. Urban fuel need is not so high as you would expect from a car of its time: 9-10 km/liter is the standard.
Roomy inside in the front seats, but poor legroom on the rear bench: this is due to the larger front seats of the Special in comparison to the 1100 standard seats, which are slim. Boot is large and deep, but it is short because the spare tire is external, as the French fashion teaches.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 25th May, 2018