1939 Simca-Gordini Type 8 Pilots: A. Gordini, J. Scaron Team: Automobiles Gordini Race: 10th overall (1st in S 1.1) at Le Mans in 1939 Ixo - LMC 130 (diecast)
In 1934 the Fiat assembly plant in France became Simca, but it continued licensed production of Fiat models. To promote the new brand, upper management contacted Amédée Gordini and funded the development of Gordini sports cars, based on the Simca Type 5 (originally the Fiat 500 Topolino). Gordini had established a reputation as a good pilot and gifted engineer. To the point he even earned the nickname “The Sorcerer”. That came from his ability to extract outstanding power-to-weight ratios from his cars.
For the Le Mans race of 1939 Gordini decided to improve his current Type 8, first created in 1937. This new Type 8 had a wire frame chassis, made out of 12 mm Reynolds steel tubing, covered by aluminum panels. The engine was supplied by Simca, a 1100 cm3 inline-4 that produced 60 hp. Even though the engine wasn’t powerful, since the car was very light (~450 kg) and aerodynamic, it proved to be a winner.
At La Sarthe in 1939, the Gordini works team had a total of five cars in the race. Three Type 8 (the new 1939 version, a 1938 car and also an 1937 car) and two older Type 5. Piloted by Gordini himself, helped by Scaron, Type 8 #39 (chassis #810804) finished in 10th overall and first in class. Interesting to note, all five cars were driven to and from La Sarthe by their respective pilots, followed by a Simca van loaded with parts.
Even though I was only a fan of the big bangers from Porsche, Ford or Ferrari, I think I have acquired a taste (and a lot of respect!) for the mighty mice like the Type 8. It’s a puny little car, and with an anemic engine, but brave enough to run against the best. Besides, look at it: it’s the first constipated car I’ve ever seen 🤣. The thing is so ugly that it looks good, and as a model, it’s a cracker. Ixo certainly did a bang up job on it, and I really warmed up to the brand’s vintage cars.