Archived Pages from 20th Century!! Archive of ::Matra
Matra (Mechanique Aviation et TRAction) a french company, whose racingsection dominated the endurance races in the late sixties/ beginning seventies. Today Matra is most known for its involvement in aerospace and telecommunications

Why not go straight to the Matra image gallery ?

History of Matra automobile

In the mid 60'ies Matra bought the small racingcar-company of Rene Bonnet to which they had allready been delivering the fiberglass-body of its beautiful midengined D'Jet. Bonnet had been very successfull at Le Mans with very streamlined and small-engined cars.
Matra also participated in racing - with great success in both formula-1 and sportscar world championships.
In 1968, the D'Jet was replaced by the Matra M530 , a midengined fiberglass-body, well balanced car. The engine was a compact Ford V4 mounted right behind the driver. The compactness of the V4 actually allowed for a 2+2 arrangement.

At the same time Matra developed their own 3-litre V-12 engine - which brought the company so much succes; - among other things a hat-trick at Le-Mans. One of the companys successfull cars was the M630 and the M650 - powered by excactely this 3 litre V-12 engine.

In 1973, the Matra entered a sales agreement with Chrysler in order to benefit from the companys dealernetwork. Chrysler felt a bit embarassed to now have a Ford V-4 powered car in their range, and a new car was produced. - The goal was to produce a car much more sleek to bring down air resistance. Matra who always had been keen to accomodate more than 2 seats, now settled for a 3 seater solution, and the Matra-Simca Baghera was born
Initially the Bagheera was powered by the Simca-1100TI engine, and the low air-resistance and relatively low weight made it a reasonably quick car. The handling was exceptional, and the car was very well accepted among the world enthusiasts .

The Bagheera was later joined by the Rancho - an "estate" car - (which looked very much like a Simca 1100 with a revised tail).

In 1979, the Simca brand was changed to Talbot (PSA) - and around this time Matra launched a replacement for the Bagheera - the Talbot-Matra Murena - still a 3-seater - but with an even more aerodynamic body, and a bigger engine - two versions were initially build, a 1.6 and a 2.2 - The increased power and lower air-resistance made the Murena a very fine sportscar indeed.

In the beginning of the 80'ies, Matra developed their project P18 - the concept of a radically styled one-box 7-seater car to replace the Rancho. Since PSA didn't want to spend the money to build the car, Matra went on to Renault, who accepted the idea ..

In 1983, Renault and Matra signed the agreement, and the Matra productionline was converted to produce the P18 - better known as the Renault Espace.

Here is an article about Matra, from the 1970 book "AUTOMOBILE YEAR" - written by Edouard Seidler.

Lennart Sorth - email: [email protected]

In cooperation with the Classic Car Pictures Archive, maintained by Jaap Horst