We at the Gippsland Vehicle Collection (GVC) are currently exhibiting a number of pairs – the first and last vehicles of a particular type manufactured or assembled in Australia. And there are some sweet surprises in here.
French automaker Simca manufactured the Aronde model from 1951 to 1963. From 1956, the Simca Aronde 90A was produced by Northern Star Engineering in Australia from complete knock down kits using local content. A stylish 1956 Simca Aronde 90A is a feature of the First and Last exhibition.
The 90A was the second-generation Aronde and debuted in France in October 1955. It came with an upgraded and newly named 1290cc FLASH engine. It has a Solex 32 carburetor, with power output of 48 horsepower at 4,800 revs per minute, and a top speed of 133 kilometers per hour.
The transmission is a four-speed manual, with floor shift. Front suspension is independent coil springs and rear is semi-elliptic leaf springs. Telescopic shocks are used front and rear. The suspension was deliberately firm to give above-average good handling and the vehicles corner exceptionally well on bitumen.
If the black and chrome Simca Aronde on show could be a stylish and respectable woman about to prepare a cocktail for her husband to enjoy with his cigarette, the 1959 Simca Vedette beside her could be her newly debuted teenage sister, ready to show herself off to society.
The Vedette currently gracing the GVC’s exhibition, is a vision splendid in powder blue with white and chrome trim, and adorned with a most magnificent hood ornament, which features blue Swallow wings (Simca’s logo at the time was a stylized Swallow).
The 1959 model Vedette was also second generation, and had a longer body style, more ornate front end and larger tailfins. The base model, the Beaulieu, was produced in Australia from 1959 to 1961 from complete knockdown kits from France and locally sourced components. It was sold by Chrysler Australia.
Owner Vince Parisi bought this striking vehicle and rescued her from a shed where she had been sitting since 1972, languishing as her beauty faded and time passed her by. But she is no longer the wallflower. Mr Parisi has given this debutante another chance to shine with a complete restoration from top to bottom.
The body has been sandblasted and re-painted in its original colour. The small V8, 2.351 litre engine, which features a French version of the famous Ford side-valve, was reconditioned. The drum-brake system was all renewed, including the clutch and pressure plate, which are mated to a three-speed manual transmission.
A lot of work went into the repair of the stainless steel and exterior chrome, but this fine woman was back on the road in February 10, with 52,689 miles on her speedo and ready to play a starring, and fittingly glamorous role at Mr Parisi’s daughter’s wedding. An apt happy ending for this lovely Vedette! Come and see her and more at the fantastic GVC and Maffra Model World, a great day out for all ages. The First and Last exhibition will be on show until the end of June.