Barreiros van
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Barreiros 1966, looking for a sports car, he finds a van

In 1966, Barreiros wanted to explore, together with Pininfarina, the design of a sports car based on the SIMCA 1000. However, after several plot twists, that trip to Italy ended with Fissore designing a van.

Undoubtedly, the biography of Eduardo Barreiros could not be more attached to a practical sense of mobility. In this way, industrial vehicles were the backbone of his career. Started in the post-war period with the aim of converting Soviet trucks abandoned in the heat of the war to diesel. One of the many ways to save fuel in Spain at the time, where initiatives such as Autarchy Electric Vehicles were also registered together with the numerous workshops dedicated to gas generators. Among them, the one run by Pere Permanyer before founding the Montesa motorcycle house.

In the midst of that adverse context, Eduardo Barreiros progressed to the point of creating his own factory in Madrid in 1954. Focused on the field of diesel engines, it obtained the long-awaited ministerial license for the production of civil trucks -after the experience accumulated with the TT-90 commissioned by the Portuguese army - at the end of the decade. In this way, Barreiros Diesel could finally compete in the local market with the ENASA Pegasos.

Thus, the synchrony between the Villaverde factory and its auxiliary industry managed to reduce the delivery times of the Saeta, Azor, Puma or Cóndor. All this seasoned with contained prices as well as a growing network of workshops. For this reason, the company grew until make the leap into the field of passenger cars thanks to the agreement with Chrysler in 1964. Step prior to the definitive launch of SIMCA 1000 at the end of the following year, entering the same league in which SEAT or FASA were already playing.

Now, what is not yet so well known is the certain interest of Eduardo Barreiros in having a sports car based on that utility in his range. By the way, an idea very much in line with the times. Not surprisingly, in 1962 SIMCA's own parent company in France had already launched a stylish Coupé version of the 1000 bodied by Bertone. In addition, with an important sales success despite, really, having much more aesthetics than a real improvement in performance.

simca bertone
The SIMCA 1000 Coupé bodied by Bertone was a good example of popular-based sports cars so fashionable in those years. Image: Chrysler.

And it is that, for better or for worse, during the fifties and sixties there were many models that, under a sporty appearance, hid popular and even simply urban mechanics. However, still some preparers decided to take this concept to the last consequences. It's more, Abarth worked in this sense on the SIMCA 1000 coming to present his own version as he had done with the FIAT 600. In fact, at the request of the French company itself, the Italian preparer took all that much further thanks to the 1300 GT.

simca abarth 1300 gt
With SIMCA's approval, Abarth created the 1300 GT using elements from the SIMCA 1000 along with many others of its own making. Image: RM Sotheby's.

With a chassis designed by Mario Colucci and a double overhead camshaft on its redesigned engine, this Abarth-SIMCA was one of the most successful GTs of all those signed by the Italian house in the early sixties. With all this, it is easy to understand why Eduardo Barreiros flirted with the idea of ​​presenting his own sports car after beginning the production of the SIMCA 1000. Thus, in April 1966 he entrusted Mario Gamarra de Artaza -body manager- and José Fernández Quintas -commercial director- to go to meet Battista "pinin” Farina in Turin.


Just like SIMCA had done with Bertone and his 1000 Coupé, Barreiros wanted to make his own sports car. Of course, the person in charge of the lines would be Carrozzeria Pininfarina. Nevertheless, bad fortune wanted Battista "pinin” Farina passed away just when Gamarra and Fernández began their trip to Italy. Quite a mishap. Even more so if we take into account how, according to everything seems to indicate, the contact between the coachbuilder and Eduardo Barreiros had been really direct.

In any case, that trip would not fall on deaf ears as meetings were quickly arranged with Ghia, Vignale, Bertone and Fissore. Curiously, while passing by, Nuccio Bertone was especially hostile to the idea of ​​another SIMCA 1000 sports car. Explaining how, according to him, the era of sports on a popular basis had passed into history. In fact, the truth is that none of the encounters with those bodybuilders materialized in a sports model. What's more, the only product of all that was a van. And it is that, after meeting with Fissore, he presented Barreiros with the project for a delivery vehicle based on a SIMCA 1000 in July 1966.

However, the design was not at all suitable due to the rear position of the engine. Something that gave serious problems in relation to how to introduce the load. Being very difficult to access from the rear area and, therefore, must be done from the sides. In sum, the same problem presented the year before by the SIATA Formichetta. Just the one that, in the end, made them succumb without palliatives to the Citroën AZU with a front engine and completely transparent cargo space.

Barreiros Villaverde
Barreiros Diesel factory in Villaverde, Madrid.

At this point, the draft Fissore It was rejected, thus closing that Italian adventure. Yes indeed, in the mind of Eduardo Barreiros the idea of ​​a sports car still sounded. Because of this, for more than a year the Galician businessman paid attention to the plans of Ibero Italiana de Carrocerías SA Founded in 1966, this Barcelona company was born with the aim of representing Ghia and De Tomaso in Spain.

simca de tomaso
Had Barreiros been convinced, the SIMCA 1000 De Tomaso could have been an excellent sporting addition to the model range.

In addition, thanks to the fact that De Tomaso had an improvement kit for the SIMCA 1000, it tried to sell Eduardo Barreiros the possibility of jointly creating a sports model. What's more, the figure of 50 units per month came to be on the table. However, from Villaverde nothing was just said clearly. For this reason, in 1967 Ibero Italiana de Carrocerías declared the project dead, going on to market the kit in specialized workshops and even some Barreiros dealers.

After all that, Eduardo Barreiros did not show any real interest in creating his own sports car. And that, in 1968, he was presented with an interesting offer by Pedro Serra, who had just presented his Dodge Specter at the Barcelona Salon. Based on the Dart, this two-door with an evident American aftertaste could have reached the range produced by the Villaverde house. In fact, there is even a photograph in which the Galician businessman poses with the model.

However, at that time the complete takeover of his factory by Chrysler was already looming. Moment after which he had to reinvent himself at a business level, managing to modernize wine cellars in La Mancha before start their stage in Cuba with Taíno trucks and engines. The one in which, returning to his origins, he once again put his ingenuity at the service of the economy in industrial vehicles.

Undoubtedly, Eduardo Barreiros was a bold businessman as well as a skilled technician. Of course, from time to time he also felt the irrational but seductive itch of sports cars.

What do you think?

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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