Car Show Classics: Simcas For Road And Race

Last year at the Historic Winton races there was a sight that I think won’t have taken place in Australia for probably 50 years: a pair of Simcas on a race track at the same time!  Things are already started, as the cars were near the back of the touring car field, but let’s go and have a closer look.

Here are the two cars in the pits; a 1957 Aronde 90A (1290cc) and a 1958 Vedette (2351cc).  The Aronde is from NSW and has been around for years, although I am not sure I’d seen it before, while the Vedette is a local car (from Victoria) that was restored a couple of years ago.

I’m sure everyone is itching to see the Vedette’s throbbing V8, so here it is!  It is of course a French evolution of the small Ford V8-60 flathead.  The class that these cars run in, Group Na for cars before 1958 (but encompassing models that continued unchanged beyond this date), is quite restrictive as to modifications.

The interior is not quite as period-correct, due to safety considerations – for example when these cars originally raced there wouldn’t have been any form of rollover protection.  It is a requirement to retain interior trim with the exception of carpet or other floor covering.

Here is the Aronde 90A engine.  Lots of development no doubt, but tightly controlled.  The foreword to the regulations for the class contains a statement to the effect that it is about getting old cars out on track in period style, and if you are all about going fast, look elsewhere!  The intention is that the cars should still be capable of being driven on the road because in period a dedicated racing sedan was very unusual.

The Aronde is indeed the slower of the two, but I doubt the owner is bothered.  This is done for fun, after all.  Historic Winton is a pretty unique event, and last year was the 40th running.  As well as cars it also features motorcycles and sidecars, making for an incredible variety of vehicles from 30 to over 100 years old.

Here is a shot of the Vedette on track.  Well ahead of the Austin A90 Westminster at least!  There are usually an early Holden or two running in this class too, but not today.

There was another Aronde parked in the display area.  Paul is familiar with these cars.

An a fourth Simca, this time a Chambord, which has been featured on CC before from Brazil.  I am not familiar enough with Australian Simca history to know how they fit in here.  The Vedette was built in South Australia by Chrysler, but I suspect this car may have been privately imported.

It is a pretty stylish machine.

It looks like a smaller version of a US car – for good reason, if you read the link above.

I’ll come back to this event in the future as it has some great stories for CC, even outside of the cars on track.