The hatchback. Renault was the first one when they presented the R16 in 1965, and then it took a while before other manufacturers followed. Two of them were Volkswagen and Simca, with the Passat and 1307 respectively. Cars which look like each other at first, but in reality don’t have anything in common. We’re going to drive them both to discover the differences. Let’s start with the Passat, because that was the first of these two to be presented.1973 to be exact. This specific Passat was built in 1974, and it’s a 1.3L. That means it’s got a 1300 cc engine producing 55 horsepower. Originally, it’s a German car, because export versions produced 60 horsepower. This Passat was available in all kinds of versions back in the day. They all were hatchback-shaped, or fastback-shaped, whatever you might call it. Anyway, they always had a sloped backside. You could choose between a big bootlid, a real hatch, or a small little bootlid like this one here.That makes this car a saloon car, a two-door to be exact. It only offers two doors on the side. That’s the way things went in the 70’s and 80’s. Back then, there were lots of two-door cars… which later would be sold only as four-door versions. Anyway, I’m in a 1974 1.3L, and it was the most luxurious version back in the day. You can tell by a small clock in the instrumentarium, carpets on the floor, some extra chrome elements… It was quite a luxurious car for the time. Well, when I say luxurious, it’s actually better than new.It’s been fully restored in 2014, and it took over a year to complete it. The result is amazing. Wherever you look, you won’t find any stains, rust, or scratches at all. The owner is incredibly cautious with it, and rightly so. Even the first windscreen is still in it, with the recommended speed-stickers on them. So, it’s actually kind of scary to drive a car which belongs to someone who is incredibly cautious. Anyway, it’s quiet on this road, and I’m being cautious as well… The 1300 cc-engine then. Of course, it’s not a engine with which you can do burnouts, but in this Passat… It doesn’t do a bad job at all. I’m not even doing 50 km/h and I’m already in fourth, but it isn’t a problem at all.It also produces that typical Volkswagen-noise, that kind of metallic sound. If you pop up the hood, you’ll see the engine is incredibly far forward as well. it’s almost against the front bumper. Back then, it was done to improve the
‘straight ahead-stability’. Sure Volkswagen, but when it comes to driving it, it understeers like nothing else. If you even dare to use speed in a corner, it really wants to go straight ahead. But how does the rest of an old Passat like this drive, how does this B1 hold up? Relatively easy, actually. The steering is very light. A very thin steering wheel as well, which was common back then. Shifting gears isn’t too much fun if I’m honest. You really have to search for the gears. Especially the first gear and reverse are incredibly close to each other. Other than that? If you’re used to it, driving it is incredibly easy.Of course, it isn’t a car for everyday use anymore. It’s too old and too beautiful for that. In the meantime, I’ve become very curious about the French answer to the hatchback concept. So let’s compare the Passat with the Simca 1307. It’s time then to get into the French Passat. Right. Getting out of a Passat and into a Simca 1307. It’s like going from German reliability to French comfort, with every single cliché coming around the bend. There’s velours around me everywhere. The seats are soft, the materials are soft, and even though it looks like a Passat, it’s incredibly different.The exterior for example. It first hit markets in 1975, so it came after the Passat. It’s not like Roy Axe, the English designer who did this car, looked at the Passat and thought ‘let me do something similar’, it’s not like that. Development on this car started in the early 70’s, and if you clearly look at the shapes of both cars, you’ll see this Simca had sharper edges. The Passat has sharp edges as well, but they’re a tad rounder, if you get what I’m going at. Also, this is a 5-door car, and the Passat is a 3-door car.Officially, it’s a two-door… And, this is a real hatchback. It’s got a big bootlid, it’s got a rear seat which you can fold forward, to increase the luggage space, something the Passat doesn’t have either. In the time this car was being built, there was quite some consternation at Simca. Or Chrysler. Or Talbot. Or whoever made this car. If you look at the back, it says Simca. If you look at the hood, it says Chrysler. If you look at the mudflaps, it says Talbot. Officially, Chrysler owned Simca when this car was being built, so we also know this car as a Chrysler Alpine, or Dodge Alpine, but this one was called 1307. You also had the 1308, the 1309, the 1508, and it’s all very
confusing. Let’s try to keep it simple. This is a 1307. It’s got a 1.3-litre engine in the front with double Weber-carburetors, and it produces 82 horsepower.That’s quite a lot of power for such a small engine, and that’s something you notice. Right now I’m driving down a main road. With the Passat, I was driving down a back road, so it’s quite hard to compare, but you’ll immediately notice this Simca is more powerful. And just like the Passat, it’s got an incredibly long gear lever, which doesn’t shift very smoothly neither. Back then, gearboxes weren’t their strong points. Other than that? Feisty little engine, a lot of comfort as well… This is the “S”-model, which was the middle trim level. You got a rev limiter, and a funny little button with a brake pedal which was crossed out. If you push that and it lights up, you’ll know you’ve got braking pressure. Back then, that wasn’t a certainty at all, so you could test it out with that little button. Even though this was the Car of the Year in 1976, everything went downhill with Simca and Talbot. Chrysler sold the brands to PSA around 1979/1980, and they kept producing cars under the name of Talbot. This received a facelift in 1980, but it was a certain game over. Not much later, Talbot was finished as car manufacturer.That’s too bad, and it’s also why cars like this… Especially in this state, because even though it’s not as spotless as the Passat, but this Simca looks incredibly good. The owner has put a lot of love into it. You can really tell. Traditionally, I’ll have to choose between these cars in this Classics Comparison. If you’re only looking at concours, the Passat is unbeatable. It’s so incredibly spotless, it’s better than new. I’m sure of it. My personal preference however, goes out to this Simca. It’s a tad feistier, it’s more practical, not that I care that much, but mostly; it’s more comfortable.You’re on the soft, brown pluche, instead of the neutral, German skai. This car just suits me better, but that doesn’t mean the Passat isn’t a fun car, because it is. Choosing between the two then, wouldn’t be fair. If I had to choose though, I’d have the Simca please. .