Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Little Pick(me)up.

After taking two trips to the dump the other day in my tiny hatchback, I got thinking about how useful a pickup would be for me. I am renovating my house and whether it's carting garbage to the dump, or picking up building materials at the hardware store, I am constantly reminded that a sub-compact 3-door hatchback is not the vehicle best suited to the job.

In general pickups trucks are not popular in Europe, and especially not in France. Where a North America would use a pickup truck with an open bed behind the cab, a French person will prefer to use a closed van ('utilitaire'). While both get the job done, sometimes a traditional pickup is very handy, especially if you want to toss large and cumbersome objects over the side into the bed. They are also easy to clean out, and dust and dirt doesn't get into the cabin the way it can in a van.

A few pickup options do exist in France, noteably from Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, but they really are not all that popular. Dacia came out with a small pickup version of their low-cost Logan range a few years ago, but it seems that it has been discontinued.
This got me thinking about a vehicle I went to look at back in May. The Simca 1100 was a very popular vehicle all through the 1970s, selling over 2,000,000 copies. Simca, which started out as the French arm of the Italian group Fiat in the 1930s was eventually purchased by Chrysler in the early 1970s to be later sold to PSA (Peugeot and Citroen) at the end of the decade before disappearing completely at the start of the 1980s.
The 1100 was their most popular model, and existed in popular 5-door hatch and wagon models, and also in a sportier 3-door hatch version. The rarest of all was the pickup version, which only existed for a few years near the end of the 1100 run. The pickup was identical to the other 1100 models from the front doors forwards, with a rather crude rear wall tacked on and a simple, low bed attached to the rear part of the chassis. It was basic but worked well as an affordable and rugged pickup.

This red one I went to try really interested me, but it was far too rusty to purchase. The frame had been welded and rewelded, and there were holes not only in the body and the floor, but also in the frame rails, which is a big problem, especially for someone like myself without the tools or know-how to do a full restoration.
I took it for a test drive anyways, and the owner was glad to tell me all about his funny little Simca pickup. In the end he understood why I couldn't buy it, and was just happy to meet someone who appreciated his special little vehicle.

At some point I would like to try and find another Simca 1100 pickup, but one in better condition. I'm not sure where I'm going to put all of these vehicles I plan to buy, but a tiny pickup would make a nice addition to the collection.

EDIT: Came across some extra pictures I had taken, so I added them to the original blog post. Some aren't pretty... check out that rust!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any comments?