Home » This May Be The Worst Tachometer Placement I’ve Ever Seen: Cold Start

This May Be The Worst Tachometer Placement I’ve Ever Seen: Cold Start

Cs Simca1000 1
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There’s a whole sub-category of Corvair-inspired little boxy sedans from the ’60s (and into the ’70s) that I tend to really like. Most of these are rear-engined, too, which makes them even better, as far as I’m concerned. One of these is the Simca 1000, a tiny little rear-engined three-box sedan that’s sort of like an NSU Prinz, but French. They don’t get talked about all that much, really, but I think they have a lot of charm. They also have what may be one of the worst places to stick a tachometer that I’ve ever seen.

Before I get into the details of that, I just want to point out again how influential the design of the first-generation Corvair really was, all over the globe. Sure, Darth Nader or whatever his name is may have called it “unsafe at any speed,” but carmakers all over the world seemed to think it was safe enough to really crib its clean, crisp lines.

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I also bring this up because I have already made this graphic that shows what I mean:

Corvaircars

See what I’m getting at? So many!

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Anyway, the Simca 1000 definitely fit this mold, and I think pulled it off in quite an appealing way, even if it had a little bit of a crazed gremlin-face. The boxy design meant the front trunk was pretty roomy for a car of its size, too, as is effectively demonstrated by how this woman can sort of do jumping jacks in there:

Cs Simca1000 3

I said “sort of.” But with boots on, too!

Anyway, I liked these. The faster LS versions made a respectable-for-the-size-and-time 52 horsepower, the same as what my Nissan Pao makes! Plus, they looked pretty tough, with that engine lid open, showing all of that purposeful air ducting:

Cs Simca1000 4

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Simca had some rally versions of the car, and this sportiness definitely played into the car’s character, plucky and fun, as this illustration seeks to convey:

Cs Simca1000 2

Oh yeah! I love some midcentury line-art.

Okay, but let’s get to the strange flaw here. Look where Simca would stick your optional tachometer:

Cs Simca1000 5

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See that? There’s a little whatevers tray just in front of the shifter, a place that I can imagine would get filled with change and maps and cigarettes and berets and baguette chunks (remember, it’s French), and there at the end of it all sits that forelorn little tachometer.

Even if you kept that little cubby free from things, you’d have to look down and under the dash to see the little tachometer at all. And I’m being generous about the if you could keep that cubby free from things part, because it’s not like the interior of a Simca 1000 was this huge space with lots of storage areas.

Cs Simca1000 6

The interior was pretty good for a car of this size and era, with really comfortable-looking seats, but I think if there’s places to put random stuff in there, those places will be filled with random stuff. It’s just how reality works. So I feel like that tachometer is going to spend most of its life obscured by a wallet or folded map or something.

But you know what? Who cares? I bet you could hear what’s going on in that engine well enough to have no problem shifting. You could likely get used to the noise so much that you could hear the RPMs down to the tenths place!

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John McMillin
John McMillin
20 days ago

Reminds me of when I added an oil temp gauge to my NSU 1000TT. The cheap gauge was meant for front-engine cars, so the wires weren’t long enough to reach my dash. So I mounted the gauge at the base of the rear window, facing forward. Easy to see in the rear view mirror, right? I don’t think I ever looked back there again.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
20 days ago

If you had just bought the Mercedes-Benz, you wouldn’t need a tach – as the speedometer has little hash marks where the upshift points are.

D8Mach
D8Mach
20 days ago

When Dad (b. 1927) was teaching me (b. 1958) to drive in a 1967 Mustang he told me to pretty much ignore the tach because it really means nothing. A machine is operated by paying attention to the feedback from the machine.
Much as I would like to pull the Boomer “kids these days”, near 50 years ago my friend had a VDub Super Beetle with Mark’s on the speedometer indicating Max speed per gear. He believed you didn’t shift till the needle was at the mark. Consequently the engine spent most of its life with him spinning in the yellow ???? zone.
So much for shifting by the numbers .
And don’t get me started on Rev limiters. The existence of the safety net is good, using it isn’t good.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
21 days ago

I feel like this is a test. Except for the Type 34, none of the cars in the graphic are in any way inspired by or reminiscent of the Corvair. Is Jason checking if we’re paying attention?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
21 days ago

I learned how to drive in manual transmission cars, decades ago, and learned that the tach can be used to guide when you shift just this past year. That blew my mind because I always thought you shifted by ear and feel. Tachs weren’t common in the cars I learned on, or that my friends’ families drove.

Do people really shift by rpm? How?

Colin Greening
Colin Greening
21 days ago

I’m 22, learned to drive stick when I was 16. Never driven a car without a Tach. I think it’s a helpful tool for driving either more efficiently or more aggressively since you can more accurately gauge your shift timing.

D8Mach
D8Mach
21 days ago

People shift by RPM badly, very badly.
And those who depend on the tach don’t understand this.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
20 days ago
Reply to  D8Mach

How does it work? Are you looking for a given RPM to shift?

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
20 days ago

I had a Triumph TR4 with bad synchros on 2nd gear, if I revved to 3000 rpm in first, then shifted to 2nd when it dropped to 2000 rpm, I wouldn’t get a crunch.

But mostly yeah, you shift by listening to the sound the engine makes.

When I was a young hooligan I would often shift when the car hit redline.

Mark Kress
Mark Kress
20 days ago

A few cars had a shift indicator light that worked off of the RPMs.

George Millwood
George Millwood
21 days ago

In 73, I drove a Simca 1000 from Lyon to Yugoslavia and back. An epic trip across Europe with m wife and two of her Aunts who seemed intent on drinking all the illegal rakia we were smuggling back to France. I will never forget crossing the Col du Mont Cenis in the snow at night.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
21 days ago

It’s past dinnertime and I’m just now starting my Autopian day. What a cluster today was.

Hope yours was better!

Ossipon
Ossipon
21 days ago

I keep looking at the car group photo and clearly do not understand why some are in the picture. e.g. BMW 2002. Why isn’t the 700 used? And the only one which comes close is the Type 34 VW Ghia. If you look at one from the rear, it has an amazing resemblance to a Corvair rear end.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
21 days ago
Reply to  Ossipon

The Corvair’s big influence in automotive design was the use of a high, very defined beltline that wrapped around the car, separating the top half from the bottom, with lower mounted lights. This is the common trait with all the cars pictured. Curbside Classic did a very in depth look into how the Corvair influenced decades of design.
https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-how-the-1960-corvair-started-a-global-design-revolution/

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
20 days ago
Reply to  Marc Fuhrman

I see that and generally agree that the cars listed could be considered Corvair influenced, except for the RO80, which looks to be from another era and has a totally different style–the beltline is not that well defined, nor is it generally uniform height and straight across the flank of the car like the others.

LeftCoastDad
LeftCoastDad
21 days ago

BMW 2002 was the second car I ever owned, but alas, mine was not orange

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
21 days ago

You can’t seriously be suggesting the NSU Ro80 (one of the most acclaimed and influential car designs) was, even remotely, inspired by the Corvair…

CJ J
CJ J
21 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

So a car which, in previous iterations, had zero design cues resembling the corvair but all of a sudden did, was designed by the same guy who went on to design the ro80, and it wasn’t inspired by the corvair? Okay.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
21 days ago
Reply to  CJ J

Not sure I am understanding you, but Claus Luthe never worked in GM…?

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
20 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

Yeah, made a prior comment along the same lines, all the other cars have the the high, straight “reverse bathtub” accent towards the top of the flank, the RO80 doesn’t. Whole different era and design language.

Norek Koss
Norek Koss
21 days ago

I love timers. Cars whit souls.

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