Five times world champion


Simca Gordini 20S - Berlinette


Simca Berlinette


Engine: 4 C with compressor Nro.15C11

Block: wet sleeves in manganese phosphorus casting with aluminum cylinder cover

Compressor: Wade type Roots frontal

Distribution: front to gears with side camshaft.

Power: Solex Carburetor

On: by a distributor

Cooling system: water, radiator and front pump

Displacement: 1490 cc

Diameter x Stroke: 78 x 78

Power: 88 hp at 5250 RPM

Maximum torque: 18.7 Kgm at 4000 RPM

Clutch: Gordini Ferodo double disc of 180 mm

Transmission: Simca box 8 of 5 advance gears with conical couplings and one of recoil, modifying the relations.

Differential: ZF with 4 satellites.

Chassis: No. 15-0020GCS Tubular frame, two main beams

Front suspension: independent wheels Simca 8

Rear suspension: rigid axle (differential) with torsion bars and telescopic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar

Brakes: a280 mm diameter drum forward250 mm diameter back

Distance between axes: 2,240 m

Front track: 1,140 mm




The great endurance races of world motorsport are a test of fire for the rider and his physique, but also for the vehicle, which to survive in a competition is obliged to deliver high performance for long periods, two characteristics that rarely get along well. In this genre, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is perhaps the most important event of all. A true magnet for pilots, for brands and, despite not having all the glamor of Formula 1, for the public, who values ​​its tradition and those condiments that make it unique: a race in which not everything goes through the speed. Towards there was Juan Manuel Fangio, then, who despite not being very fond of running at night, made in 1950 the first of his four appearances at the circuit of La Sarthe.

Fangio alternated with José Froilán González the driving of an experimental car that Amadeo Gordini prepared especially for the occasion, the 20S, a coupe as peculiar as its origin: true to his style, Gordini thought about it and built with previous prototype components, but also of street vehicles, which Simca sold at its dealerships. The result had the hallmark of the Italian nationalized French, a car with a great relationship between weight and power, ready to deal with large machines and displacement.


In his words

This is how Juan Manuel Fangio recalled his first participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans: "Engineer Gordini asked us to run with a car that was in an experimental phase, it was a 1.5-liter model with a compressor. Gonzalez without much hope of winning, although in a very long race like this the alternatives can be many, I had to enter the pits because there were problems with the engine and that delayed us an hour, I went to sleep and Froilán kept driving. Fallas continued and soon after we left ... "


When the clock struck 16, the perfect of Sarthe began to wave the French flag and the pilots ran to their cars, which were waiting for patients on the other side of the main straight, aligned at 45 degrees. Still accommodating themselves in their seats, they started the engines and started the adventure. That June 24, 1950, the traditional ceremony that marks the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was carried out as every year, but with the particularity that 60 vehicles went on the track, a record for that time. One of them was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, who on the day of his 39th birthday debuted in one of the most famous and difficult races on the planet.

The Balcarce arrived at the circuit of La Sarthe invited by Amadeo Gordini, who had prepared for the occasion an experimental prototype of his 20S coupe, equipped with a Simca engine of 4 cylinders, 1.5 liters, and compressor, which delivered a maximum power of 88 hp at 5250 rpm. He shared it with José Froilán González, and the challenge for the duo of drivers undoubtedly presented enormous, not only because it was the first experience in the competition, with all that that meant, but also because they would do it on top of a vehicle practically new and with few tests under his belt. The hope of the Argentines to face heavy, reliable and large-displacement heavyweights such as Talbot and Aston Martin, then, was rather low. The objective was on the other side.

Beyond that moderate enthusiasm of the previous one, the first hours of competition of the Simca Gordini celeste and with the number 33 were good. Fangio managed to overcome mechanical problems that made it difficult from the start when he choked the engine at the start, and after a while, he was practically last to occupy the tenth place, in a second platoon, one lap of the leader. There he stayed until more mishaps with the engine forced him to go through the pits. That detention took longer than expected, and mechanics just gave him the green light after an hour of intensive work

With the Chueco down the car, resting, and relieved by Froilán González, the difficulties continued to make a dent in the performance of the pair and in the standings. Finally, what started uphill ended in the worst way: after 12 hours and 25 minutes from the start and 95 laps to the circuit, the engine said enough and the Argentine tandem had to abandon the competition. As the table is organized according to the number of turns made in those 24 hours of racing, the official statistic placed them at number 41. None of the ten vehicles with Simca engine saw the checkered flag in this edition, included in that list the six of the Gordini team.

As expected from early in the race, the triumph went to the Frenchman Louis Rosier and his son, Louis Jr., also known as Jean-Louis to avoid confusion. On board a Talbot 4500 they completed 256 laps and 3474 kilometers traveled at an average of 144.7 km / h, with an average record of 165.4 km / h on turn 40. They were escorted by another French pairing, Pierre Meyrat, and France Guy Mairesse, also with a Talbot and two laps away. The third place went to the British Sydney Allard and the American Tom Cole Jr., who ran with an Allard J2 with Cadillac engine and completed five laps less than the winners.

"I have never seen, even in the United States, such sumptuous facilities for an automobile race, I would have regretted not participating in such a large-scale competition." The words of Fangio explain many of the reasons why Le Mans was installed since its inception as the most important endurance races, which all brands want to win.

What began in 1923 as a testbed open to the public also became a source of prestige and publicity for the winning cars, which become part of the automotive Olympus, encased in the same epic that attracts the public as any another date on the calendar.


However, in its almost one hundred years of life, this competition has had black spots in its history. The most important, which is already known as "the disaster of Le Mans". In the 1955 edition, the Mercedes 300 SLR of Pierre Lavegh caught fire and fell on the rostrum, killing more than 80 spectators. This led to the suspension of competitions in several European countries and the adoption of new security measures.



Many cars in one


Some call it Berlinette, others list it as 8, such as T15S, T15S Coupe, T18 ... The technical sheets and information sources available on the Simca Gordini 20S always baptize it with different names.

In first measurement, the chassis was the one of a monoposto of competition on which Amadeo Gordini, its creator, based almost all its cars at that time. But the Italian nationalized French used a lot of the pieces that Simca manufactured as standard for their street cars. Without going any further, the bodywork, for example, was a derivative of the coupe version of a Simca 8, a vehicle that any Frenchman could buy at a dealership. And the same origin had the front train.

 "From a workshop on the outskirts of Paris, he had partnered with Simca to build Formula and Sports cars. He had a lot of economic problems and on one occasion, in order to continue working, he sold his own car, "Fangio recalled about" the engineer "Gordini, as he called it. In the words of Fangio is one of the keys to understanding how Gordini worked: he was not exactly a developer with enormous resources, and although he had the support of an important company like Simca, it was not a multinational either.

With this in mind, it is not difficult to deduce that the car that ran Fangio and Froilan was the result of a series of tests that did not have Le Mans as objective, but that race was one more stage of an endless job on the horizon. In fact, the records indicate that the car was barely used again in July of that year in the 12 Hours of Paris and with the son of Gordini, Aldo, as a pilot. Therefore, the most logical thing is that the parties that made up the 20S have been reincorporated to new prototypes (which also explains that there are so many models listed in the history books of motorsports and so little tangible evidence of them to date), not only because he already knew what worked and what did not, but also because, simply, Gordini had the need to make do with what was available.

All that obsessive passion for advancing his knowledge allowed Gordini to understand the relationship between weight and power like no other: that is why in the first instances of a race as long and strenuous as Le Mans, when the mechanical state of all cars is even and all run more or less in the same conditions, a car that barely exceeded 450 kilos and 1.5-liter engine and 88 hp power as the one handled by Fangio and González could be placed in the top 10 positions, fighting with heavyweights of large size and displacement, such as Talbot or Cadillac. Not in vain Gordini was nicknamed "El Brujo".

For the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1950, Gordini prepared another car similar to Fangio and Froilán González: the locals ran Maurice Trintignant and Robert Manzon, both brand new drivers of the Formula 1 team of the brand. In total, he put six cars on the track (the rest were all T15 monoposto), more than any other team.

However, luck was the same for everyone: abandonment. To make a table of positions of the Simca Gordini, those who came further were Georges Blondel and Raoul Martin, who left after completing 157 laps; then, Fangio and Froilán (95), José Scaron and Robert Pascal (77), Roger Loyer and Jean Behra (50), the aforementioned Trintignant and Manzon (34) and, finally, André Simon and the son of Amadeo, Aldo Gordini (14)


El Brujo, worried

Beyond that, his plans were experimental, that the six cars of his team have left was a bitter drink for Amadeo Gordini. And it worried him, above all, because he knew that in Simca they were excited about the competition. Not being up to the task mortified him, and he feared that this would have consequences for the future of the relationship. However, already back, was surprised: although the weather was not a hubbub, the press had talked so much about the brand, that the balance, despite everything, was positive. To make matters worse, the winners were not Simca's direct competitors in the automotive market, so there was nothing to worry about at the sales level.


Simca: Its initials in French respond to the Industrial Society of Mechanics and Automotive Bodywork. It was born in 1934, founded by the Italian Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi as a factory that assembled and distributed FIAT cars in France, to avoid the heavy tariffs on the importation of vehicles that ruled on Gallic soil. From the 50's he began to manufacture his own models and lived a period of expansion. Chrysler Corporation bought shares in the company in 1958, and five years later it was already a majority shareholder. In 1970 he merged with Matra, and in the sporting field, they won the Le Mans triumph in 1972. But the oil crisis was more and the brand experienced dark years that led to the sale to Peugeot, which changed the name to Talbot. It stopped producing in 1986.


Number: 33
Date: June 24-25, 1950
Pilot: Juan Manuel Fangio
Copilot: José Froilán González
Action: Abandonment in the 95th turn

Amadeo Gordini, who has shown affection for Fangio, invites him to drive one of his Sports cars in the traditional 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is a model of 2932 cc displacement, with compressor. The engine that was still in experimentation.

Fangio participates for the first time in Le Mans, a circuit of Le Sharte measuring 13,492 meters, in a race that starts at 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 24, day of his 39th birthday and ended the next day at the same time. He will share the driving of the Simca-Gordini Sport, with José Froilán González and his aspirations were relative, due to the low displacement of his engine and the scarce tests performed on it, as opposed to the highly experienced and resistant Talbot, Aston Martin, and Delage. In the competition will also intervene two Cadillac, leaving due to problems with the fuel used, not appropriate for its powerful engines.

A total of 60 machines are aligned at 45 degrees on one side of the main straight. From the opposite side, the pilots run to the cars, start the engines and start the race.

During several hours, the Argentine binomial with the number 33, is located well in the Classification. Louis Rosier, alternating with his son Jean, is at the forefront aboard a Talbot 4500, marking the Record of Vuelta at number 40, at an average of 165.4 km / h.

Fangio drives the Gordini integrating a second platoon when they begin to appear faults in the engine, and in the pits, the mechanics work an hour, to put the car back in conditions.

Froilán González replaces Fangio, who retires to rest when again problems appear in the car and at 12h 25 'of march they leave the race.
Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans Rosier binomial, traveling 256 laps at an average of 144.7 km / h, totaling 3474 kilometers. After two laps Pierre Meyrat is classified with another Talbot and then Granfferied with Allard, 5 laps.
AVERAGE: 144.7 Km / h - RECORD OF RETURN: Rosier at 165.4 Km / h.

For the 24 Hours of Le Mans engineer, Amadeo Gordini worked on the preparation of a new version of his Sports car that offered to Fangio to lead him in the grueling French competition.

It was the model called "8", with Simca engine of 4 cylinders and 2932 cc and forced feeding. The valves were arranged in the cylinder head, producing a Solex carburetor and a compressor located in the front of the block-motor.

"... Engineer Gordini asked us to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a car that was in the experimental phase, it was a model of almost 3 liters with a compressor.
We alternate with Froilán González without much hope of winning, although in a very long race like this the alternatives can be many.
I had to enter the pits because there were problems with the engine and that delayed us an hour. I went to sleep and Froilán kept driving. The failures continued and soon after we left ... "


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