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speedyK
The car I have bought is very cheap because hardly anyone wants one biggrin.gif

The company who built it also built the world's first production mid-engined road car which was aimed at amateur racers. This was not their original area – they expanded into automobiles from their core technology of aeronautics and weaponry.

Next they built a car aimed more at non-racing customers. It was nevertheless mid-engined, a 2+2 and a targa!

In this period, entered racing and had almost unparalleled success within a very short time. After going into F2 racing, they won their national championship 5 times in succession. In the last three of these years, they also won the european F2 championship each time.

This success led to a decision to enter Formula 1 – and the very next year their car won both the driver's championship and the constructors championship. A special feature was the aviation construction inspired structural fuel tanks which made the car lighter and stronger. The FIA banned these for the following year.

They then decided to concentrate on the World Championship of Makes, winning Le Mans three times in succession and the World Championship on both the last two occasions.

They then withdrew from racing their own cars, but continued to supply their V12 engine to an F1 racing team. It is considered to be the loudest, most awe-inspiring sound ever heard from an F1 car.

They then concentrated on increasing production of road cars. A radical new design was introduced: again mid-engined – but no longer a 2+2 – the new car was a 3-seater with a 3-abreast design.

Unfortunately, despite the great balance and roadholding the configuration allowed, the straight line performance did not do the striking low, supercar looks justice. Worse still, it became apparent within a few years that the steel frame clad in fibreglass panels was a terrible rust-trap. A lot of people did not enjoy the results of this and the firm's name was pretty much terminally damaged. The only structural part of the car not vulnerable to rust were the alloy rear trailing arms!

Concurrent to the 3-seater production, as a new project, the company built the first SUV or leisure activity vehicle as it was then known – a sort of mini RangeRover, but with a simple – but adequate for most purposes – fwd layout with a stepped roofline like a Discovery and the option of extra rear-facing seats

In an attempt to show that they had learned from their error with the 3-seater, the company released a new model – again mid-engined, 3-abreast, steel-framed and fibreglass panelled. But this time they took rust prevention very seriously. The new car became the world's first to have its entire structural frame zinc-dipped in a bath.

The resulting protection was so good that later Volvo would buy a 6-year old one to scrutinise and learn from). Ironically, in view of the previous model's characteristics, the only part of the new car that was susceptible to rust were the all-steel rear trailing arms rolleyes.gif

Additionally, this new model addressed the performance issue, beating class competitors in group tests with an 9.2s 0–100km/h time and a Vmax of 200 km/h. The engine was not particularly refined, but had plenty of torque low down the rev range. They would have liked to offer more – and the chassis could certainly handle it – but the company were affiliated with a larger car company who limited the choice of available engines for their cars. They really wanted an alloy V6 for the 3-seater, but nothing was available "on the shelf".

Again the little company was not resting and now their designer (who was responsible for both the 3-seaters and the SUV) proposed a radical replacement for their SUV – this time in a monospace (single box) design with very versatile seating arrangements – and also complete with zinc-dipped frame and fibreglass panels. They had now invented the first modern MPV (the earlier VW T2 and Fiat 600 Multipla not being quite as versatile in their basic configuration).

With the MPV, the company felt that they were onto a winner. The 3-seater sales had not been large despite good press, mainly because the predecessor has caused so much anguish and effectively destroyed their credibility, so prospective customers were very reticent.

They took the design to their affiliates who considered it too expensive and risky to put into production. "Who would want it?", they asked.

But the designers were so convinced that they decided to look elsewhere for support and mechanicals, resulting in a cooperation with another large car company – and obviously ending that with the previous one.

The catch was that the new company wanted their own name on the car – and wanted it built on the production line currently being used for the 3-seater. One of the reasons for this was that ending production of the 3-seater was desirable for the large company, as they themselves had a competing vehicle in that segment.

With teeth gritted, the company gave over the production line from the 3-seater to the SUV – and sales were almost non-existent at first: a grand total of 9 sold in the first month. But slowly people began to "get" the car – and they couldn't make enough.

Ironically, the previous partner added a "who will want one?" MPV to their own range 11 years later.

As a side note, to celebrate 10 years of production, the little company did a "mental" version of the MPV with a carbon chassis and 800bhp V10 F1 engine that did 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds and had a Vmax of 194 mph (not km/h)

A second version of the car was built . A third followed – along with another radical design – a one-box, two-door, no B pillar "coupι-van". The 19 year MPV production run ended when the big partner announced that the 4th series would be all-metal construction – and built by themselves in-house.

There was some talk with MG-Rover about a co-operation to continue production of the third series, but it came to nothing.

The little car company had become entirely dependent on the big partner and the decision by the latter to end production of the two models led to the former having little alternative but pulling out of car manufacture.

Interestingly, the go it alone 4th version built by the large company came third from the bottom in a Top Gear owners satisfaction survey despite offering good accident protection.

My car is one of the second 3-seater models. Only 4,560 were built with the larger engine (and 5,640 of a smaller engined, less well-equipped one).

It is the second one I've owned … and even has the same colour and interior. The first was just over a year old and had done 29k km when I bought it. I took it to 93k km all over Europe without problems before I to lay it up. I sold it 5 years later.

This one is a year newer and has a mere 51k on the clock. It is like a time-warp to sit in it. I was instantly at home and, once it was warmed-up, chucking it down the road with familiar abandon.

Not as light as a Lotus Elise/Exige, Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster, not as grippy, not as fast – but far more practical and still lots of fun at a fraction of the cost.

How can it be that you can buy a zinc-dipped, fibreglass panelled (almost indestructible without external forces applied) special-looking, full of character, small yet quite practical coupι for the same price as a set of rims with tyres for my 997? Incredible!

Like I say, almost no one knows about Matra's meteoric F1 career, their dominance at Le Mans and their World Championships. No-one realises all the innovations they've brought to motoring. No-one knows what the car is. The name has no status – or at best negative connotations due its rust-prone predecessor. It's good that way.

Only trouble is that now my wife says I don‘t need the Porsche...

Any way...

I drove it home today, gently at not more than 80mph or so because the Michelin tyres, although they have almost full tread depth, are actually 21 years old(!) It‘s a typical Swiss car that has has been driven sparingly and has only now, after nearly years, reached 30k miles.

My previous Matra bought in '83 had covered over 93k km all over Europe by the time I laid it up in 1988,

Scotland, 1985


Yet this one has hardly half the mileage now – and I've got the documents that show this.

In fact, the old guy I bought it from bought it himself in 2004 but never drove it. He had to pay 7.4k to have it sorted for the Swiss MOT test last October – and a few hundred more to sort the issue it just had with the pop-up lamps and for a new exhaust emissions test. I paid 8.4k – in fact that's slightly less than a set of rims and tyres for the 997 – without fitting! Amazing.

The car ran smooth and true and the guages showed all to be in order. The non-servo'd steering with the mid-engined lay-out is a sensory delight. The 2.2 litre is torquey and moves with the flow without effort.


Switzerland, 2011






Only 4 cm wider than a Lotus Elise(Exige, Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster, but a real 3-seater.




Or a very generous 2-seater






The boot is quite generous




Mid-ships 2.2 litre 4cyl with 118 bhp



Neat detail




Pop-up lights




I'm really pleased to have a Matra in my garage again – especially one in exactly the same colours as my previous one.. amazingly under-rated car.



My rare cars in a row

MGC roadster 4,544 built, Lancia Beta Spider 9,390, Matra Murena 2.2 4,560 built, Smart Roadster 43,091 built – but my Brabus Xclusive is the rare top of the range model.





What next?!!! tongue.gif
Altostratus
Badass. Just badass.
UserDrew
I don't like the upholstery fabric, its all plushy. This is the first time I've heard of this car, it looks badass.
shandyman5
...And your wife wants you to get rid of your 911 for this..... head.gif
speedyK
^^^ biggrin.gif

I told you - hardly anyone wants one.

A popluar addition is a 4-pipe sports exhaust
moe
I would totally take that over your 911...this was going to be my guess, but didn't say anything since you already owned on before.
green73ta
Ultra cool! I've never heard of those before.
speedyK
QUOTE(moe @ May 9 2011, 01:19 PM) *
I would totally take that over your 911...this was going to be my guess, but didn't say anything since you already owned on before.

The fact that it was in the same colour as my old one left me without any hope of resisting. And driving one again after so long was amazing. It was instantly familiar – and fun!
Altostratus
pretty sure an exhaust system is necessary, that sounded great for an old 4cyl
speedyK
My daughter is insured to drive the Matra...

I'm interested to hear what she thinks. She loves the 106 GTI and enjoyed both the 300ZX Twin Turbo and Durango when I let her try them.

Doesn't like the Smart Roadster-Coupι.

Wasn't allowed to drive the Exige Cup or the Aston DB7 Vantage – and isn't allowed to drive the 997 4S biggrin.gif

(Both my MGC and Lancia Beta Spider are currently off the road – but I'm about to awaken the Lancia, so she will be able to make some interesting comparisons cool.gif
Altostratus
i still find it funny that you own a durango, they are generally looked down on in north america.
speedyK
biggrin.gif

Had it since new. Over 10 years and over 100k km. Never ever let me down. Never dropped any fluids. So versatile. Surprisingly fun in rwd mode. Far better steering, brakes, air con, ICE, and everything else than any of the 4 RangeRovers that preceded it – and every single one of them dropped fluids and failed to keep going when they were needed. Do I care that the "wood veneer" is plastic in an SUV? No! The Durango is probably my best buy – ever! And I would have to have had a serious bump to the head to buy a LandRover product again having seen how other SUVs actually do keep working.

I talked about replacing it, but my wife says it still does the job perfectly and we would get nothing for it, so why not run it into the ground. The most attractive replacement would be a Durango III – but it would probably be less fun with permanent 4wd and all the nannying electronics...



When you want to go up an alpine pass in the snow, or transport a daughter's stuff to her new flat or take 6 people along, there are better choices than a mid-engined sportscar. It's a question of horses for courses wink.gif

RallyCat909
Frozen.
speedyK
I don't know how it is where the rest of you are but, here in Switzerland, half of the car mags now seem to be about older cars – and not just classic MGs or super-expensive exotics but more the "Youngtimers" – cars from around the eighties.

I'd hardly got the Matra home when I bought a general car mag which also picked up on the "Youngtimers" of the eighties and how they were fun to drive (smaller, lighter and more simple) and they are being increasingly seen as more desirable. They are presently cheap – though prices are starting to rise as people realise what a bargain they are.

In this article, they looked more closely at the subject and gave examples of ideal cars of this era that are a sure-fire bet for fun and to rise further in value. Of the ten cars they highlighted, one was the Matra Murena – and they even had a big pic of one in metallic gold identical to mine thumbs_up.gif biggrin.gif
clarkma5
Story of the year! Two thumbs up!

I never knew much about the Matra 3-seater, and I'm sold on the concept. Wish it had more motor though!
moe
If I was to form the ultimate nerds collection of cars, I'd put the Matra in my garage alongside the DeLorean and the Mazda AZ-1
speedyK
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Jun 4 2011, 04:22 AM) *
Story of the year! Two thumbs up!

I never knew much about the Matra 3-seater, and I'm sold on the concept. Wish it had more motor though!

First time around when I had my Matra, I wished that it had a sweet V6 – and a targa would have been nice – I missed that feature of the X1/9.

Matra actually planned to use a V6, but Renault made them kill off the car as it was unwelcome competition to their own Alpine.


In other news, I was out in my Brabus Smart Roadster-Coupι Xclusive at the weekend to visit an amazing place (more of which in another story).
On the way back we just had to stop at this zany Hundertwasser restaurant to take some pics of our zany car biggrin.gif







Took some with the 50mm at f1.4 to get a toy-like effect with the low depth of focus cool.gif




speedyK
Arranged to meet up with a fellow previous Speedster owner (he's also a fellow previous Smart roadster-coupι owner) and go for a 2-hour drive around some of the alps.

I took the Matra, he took his replacement for his Smart R-C.

I was at our meeting point first and took a couple of pics while I waited.




Don't ask me why the woman with the estate had to park right next to me in a half-empty car park!


The weather forecast was uncertain. Slight chance of rain on part of the route. I hoped not, as my car still has its ancient Michelin MVX2 tyres which I suspected would be as grippy as a teflon coating if they got wet.


Then I saw him arriving. 1968 Fiat 124 1600 coupι (rear wheel drive).


Took a few shots of the two parked up.






We then headed off for our first little pass.

Inevitably (it seems nowadays) there were several motorists underway who felt that less than 30 mph was more than enough on a country road with a 50 mph limit (used to be 62 mph, but was reduced to "save the trees" – don't get me started on that though! mad.gif ).

I did not agree – and dispatched huddles of them on straight sections biggrin.gif The Fiat had a little more difficulty keeping that pace, but I slowed to let him catch me and we stopped at the halfway point of our journey.



We swapped cars for the descent down the other side.

The Fiat has an airy cabin – shiny plastic, chrome and wood – and the seat was comfortable despite the lack of headrests. I had no problem to find a comfortable driving position.

The wooden-rimmed steering wheel, although very thin, still allows good grip due to the recesses on the rear of it for your fingers.

The engine is the 1600 cc version of the 2000 cc twin cam in my Lancia, but this Fiat was SO quiet – and had almost no exhaust sound, whereas my Lancia has a typical italian rasp.

Again, I led. I put it into first gear. The box has an amazingly slick, well-oiled metal over metal action and a really small throw. Fantastic!
Released the clutch and moved off. WHAT?! First gear is all done at 10 mph – really, really low. The rest of the 5-speed box is fine though and that gear lever action is great.

Was soon trying it out through the curves. It does not have heavy steering – far from it. But it also shows little interest in responding to steering input . Turn-in? What turn-in? biggrin.gif

Once it has responded, it is all light and fairly benign – unless you push it. Very soon found the limits of the 40 year old suspension – it does what you want – up to a point, then it makes it clear that it won't take the corner tighter, so back off! Pushing it too hard results in the fronts losing grip in protest.

But, if you treat it more kindly, it rewards with wonderful, light, neatly-balanced, smooth and quiet progress down the road. Very elegant and sophisticated. Certainly worlds better than the sixties stuff from GM, Ford, etc. that I have previously driven.

The feared rain started to announce its arrival with a few drops on the screen, so I thought it best to stop and swap back.






Climbing back into the Matra, I'm struck by the low seating position, with my hair kissing the low roof – and the boudoir-like velour interior is quite a contrast to the Fiat too!
Driving off, the solid feel of the wheel with reaction to the slightest input reassures and, despite the damp surfaces, I can feel exactly what is going on. The car feels taut and ready to obey my every command – far removed from the older, relaxed but detached, sweet and neat but not so precise Fiat.

It was great to drive the Fiat – it was not how I expected it to be. I thought it would be far more like my Lancia.

Next time, we're taking my Lancia with the Fiat to check these differences out a little more thumbs_up.gif
Altostratus
uuuughhh.


i hate/love your life SOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH.

so i say again kind sir, adoption?
speedyK
biggrin.gif
Bjorn
Altostratus, you may want to abandon the adoption route and try to get a job as his PA.
Altostratus
good point leif, im too old for adoption.

i can clean cars and cook. "can do other stuff good too."
Bjorn
"I'll accept payment in the form of Porsche rides"
speedyK
I awoke the Lancia today.


But only to move it and take the Matra for another little ride – by myself this time.








The 185/60 14" fronts of the Matra make quite a contrast alongside the 305/30 19" rears of the 997




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