Tag Archives: Matra

Christmas Window Shopping – Hall & Hall

Last week I got a phone call from Ted “Ferret Fotographics” Walker asking if I’d like to accompany him on a 300 mile round trip to Bourne, Lincs and back to visit Hall & Hall where he had some cars to inspect. I accepted on the basis that this might be an interesting window shopping trip, and as you shall see below it was close to the ultimate Christmas window shopping trip for petrol heads and race fans.

Mercedes 300SL, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

Among the cars I was kindly allowed to photograph was the Donington Collection’s 1952 Gullwing Mercedes 300 SL complete with experimental roof mounted wing that was around 15 years ahead of it’s time, this car was tried in practice, but not raced, for the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Delhaye 235 Chapron Coupé, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

Moving chronologically on this 1953 Delahaye 235 Coupé with a standardised Chapron body at a price when new of FF3,800,000 cost twice as much as the much faster contemporary Jaguar XK120.

Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

Pierre Dumay and Jo Schlesser drove this Ferrari 250 GT SWB, chassis #2127, to a second place finish overall in the 1960 Tour de France, it’s last known in period race was in the 1964 6h Dakar race in which “Cicoira” drove it to a 3rd place finish.

Lotus 48, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

Unknown to all but a select few at Ford, Cosworth and Lotus the Lotus 48 was powered by a sign of things to come. The 48 was campaigned successfully in Formula Two and Jackie Oliver drove one to a fifth place finish in the 1967 German Grand Prix against cars with engines nearly twice the size and around a third more horsepower. The Cosworth FVA motor, which dominated Formula 2 from 1966 to 1972, has a four valve head, that was developed as part of Ford’s contract with Cosworth that would give birth to the Ford Cosworth DFV. The DFV in turn dominated the top tier of motor sport from 1969 until 1983 during which time the DFV motors powered 11 Drivers championship winners interrupted on three occasions only by Ferrari. This is one of several cars currently for sale on the Hall & Hall website linked here.

Alfa Romeo T33, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

The 1967 270 hp V8 powered Alfa Romeo T33 ‘Periscope’ was first used in competition by Belgian Teodro Zeccolini in his home country for a hill climb event at Fleron which he promptly won. By 1975 a flat 12 version of the T33 had been developed that won the Sports Car World Championships in 1975 and 1977.

Porsche 911T, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

German born Kenyan Edgar Hermann bought this Porsche 911T early in 1967 in preparation for an attempt on the 1968 East African Safari rally but when the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon was announced he returned it to the factory to be prepared for the longer event in which he finished 15th. Hermann sold the car to Australian Porsche importer Alan Hamilton who converted it to RHD and drove in Australian Rally events until 1970. In 1987 this 911 had a second wind and was driven to a Class C championship win in the Australian Porsche Cup.

Matra Ford MS80, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

From 1969 was one of Jackie Stewarts World Drivers and World Constructors Championship winning Matra MS 80s, powered by a Ford Cosworth DFV as heralded by the Cosworth FVA. Team owner Ken Tyrrell managed to do deals with Matra to use their chassis, and at Stewarts insistence Ford to use the Ford Cosworth DFV for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. These deals were remarkable because Matra were trying to develop their own V12 for Formula One at the time.

BRM P153, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

While I was window shopping two V12 powered cars from 1970 took my fancy the first was this BRM P153 chassis #3 according to the Hall & Hall website, these cars were the first of three race winning designs by Tony Southgate, Pedro Rodriguez drove a car like this to victory at the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa at an average speed of 149.9 mph. Chassis #03 was driven by George Eaton in 1970 who’s best performance was a 9th place finish in the Canadian Grand Prix, Howden Ganley drove the car in 1971, his seasons best result 4th in the non Championship Spring Trophy at Oulton Park . Sweden’s Reine Wisell and Spains Alex Soler-Roig both qualified the car for a race each in 1972 but neither finished which left Austria’s Dr Helmut Marko to drive for the last time in the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix where he finished 8th.

Matra MS650, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

According to the best sources I have the 1970 V12 Matra MS650 chassis #02 above has been used in just 6 events, unsurprisingly most of those who drove the car are French the three exceptions being Dan Gurney, who shared the it with Francois Cevert to record a 12th place finish in the 1970 Sebring 12 hours, Jack Brabham who shared the car with Cevert and retired from the 1970 Le Mans 24 hours and Algerian Bernard Fiorentino who shared the car with Maurice Grélin when it failed to finish the 1971 Tour de France. Chassis #02 was shared by Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Johnny Rives for the cars career best 2nd place finish, behind the sister car driven by Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Patrick Depailler and Jean Todt, on the 1970 Tour de France carrying the registration 197WS75 as seen above.

Ligier JS17, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

Finally there were two 1981 cars which grabbed my attention, first this Ligier JS17, powered by a fabulous sounding Matra V12, not sure which of the 5 JS 17’s built this is but Jacques Laffite drove the type to victory in the 1981 Austrian and Canadian Grand Prix which gave Laffite an outside chance of wining the title going into the final race of the season held in the car park at Caesers Palace. A 6th place finish meant Jacques secured his third consecutive career best 4th place in the championship.

Lotus Ford 81, Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs

I’ll be publishing a full blog about the Cosworth DFV powered Lotus 87 on 29th of December, the car seen here is chassis #87/R4, also currently offered for sale, was driven in 1981 by Nigel Mansell. Like many cars of this era it is probably more reliable now than it was in period .

I’ll save the best car in the building as a surprise, it was a prototype Friday car and it was a dream come true to see it in person. Don’t forget to tune in this Friday to find out what it was.

My thanks to Ted Walker for inviting me to join him on his trip to Hall & Hall and to Rick Hall for letting me take photographs of some of the vehicles in his care.

Wishing Abba Kogan, whom I believe owns some of the vehicles seen in these photographs, a swift recovery from his injuries, sustained in the Baku City Challenge, Azerbaijan recently.

Thanks for joining me on this “Christmas Window Shopping” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Minivan Pillarless Coupé – Renault Avantime

They say fortune favours the brave, unfortunately the brave fall over every once in a while before they find success if they survive long enough at all.

Renault Avantime_6277sc

Just as Matra had gone out on a limb in 1977 to bring the public the Minivan sized SUV Simca / Talbot Ranchero I looked at last week a concept which Matra later evolved into the Renault Espace minivan in the 1980’s, in 1999 Matra showed a car for a new post minivan market segment which envisaged former minivan customers who’s kids had fled the coop who wanted something minivan sized for the superior view, but with only two doors and 140mph GT performance.

Renault Avantime_6278sc

Patrick le Quément was responsible for the styling, which was loosely based on the upmarket Renault Vel Satis, that featured lots of heat reflecting glass to afford a panoramic view, the complete absence of any B-pillar and double hinged doors that take up less road space than smaller conventional doors when open for ease of entry and egress.

Renault Avantime_6279sc

Initially the Avantime was to be powered by the 3 litre / 183 cui 24 valve 207hp Renault V6, later options included a 2 litre / 122 cui turbo and diesel variants.

Renault Avantime_6280sc

Children were not expected to be carried but the rear features two separate full size seats, instead of the regular bench seat, that are mounted higher than the front seats offering what Renault called “theater seating”.

Renault Avantime_6283sc

The Avantime certainly broke the coupé mold with it’s minivan size, fantastic all round vision and futuristic styling but….

Renault Avantime_6281sc

… it had no competition except from genuine coupés that were smaller, more agile and less quirky to look at, meaning only 8,557 examples were built from 2001 to 2003 and of those only 450 were imported into the UK, much to the disappointment of Matra who called time on their car manufacturing aspirations.

Renault Avantime_6282sc

In light of the vast fleets of highly polished sports minivan sized Chelsea tractors with only one or two occupants one sees flying up and down Britain’s motorways Renault might perhaps have been better aiming the Avantime as an alternative to sports utility vehicle segment.

The Avantime seen in these photographs earlier this year in Ware, Herts is a 3 litre / 183 cui V6 powered model with the 5 speed automatic transmission, it was first registered in the UK on the 2nd of September 2002.

Thanks for joining me on this “Minivan Pillarless Coupé” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Wagon Wednesday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Minivan SUV – Talbot Matra Rancho

Having established it’s sports car credentials with Simca on the collaborative Bagheera, Matra’s next joint effort with Simca was to build a front wheel drive off road version of the little 5 door Simca 1100 hatchback which became known as the Rancho.

Talbot Matra Rancho, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham,

The design used the front end of the front wheel drive Simca 1100 fourgonette van with an extended chassis on to which Matra’s fibreglass and polyester body, designed by Antonis Volanis, was grafted.

Talbot Matra Rancho, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham,

Unusually the vehicle had three rows of seats not unlike later popular minivans, the interior was largely taken directly from the Simca 1100 parts bins including seats and instrumentation.

Talbot Matra Rancho, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham,

The car’s ground clearance was raised for off road use and an 80 hp 1.4 litre / 87.9 cui version of the Poissey engine shared with the Simca 1307 and Matra Bagheera models was fitted.

Talbot Matra Rancho, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham,

The Matra Simca was launched in 1977 and was rebranded Talbot Matra Rancho in 1979 after Peugeot merged Chrysler Europe’s brands into it’s portfolio, in all 57,792 Rancho’s were built with Minivan SUV, as seen here, detachable canvas and commercial van bodie styles until 1985 when the model was discontinued.

Talbot Matra Rancho, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham,

Matra went on to develop a Minivan with three row’s of seats for it’s next concept which Peugeot turned down but Renault accepted with open arms leading Matra to becoming part of the Renault industrial complex and the launch of the Renault Espace in 1984.

Thanks for joining me on this “Minivan SUV” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Galvanised Chassis Frame – Talbot Matra Murena

Arguably the most attractive of the sports cars to emerge from Matra’s Romorantin plant was the Murena which replaced the Bagheera, both designed by Antonis Volanis, in 1980.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The Murena used the same chassis as the Bagheera but it differed crucially in now being made from galvanized steel so that it did not rot as the chassis of the Bagheera was renowned for.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Inside the new fibreglass-polyester body there was a row of three seats for the driver and two passengers and the engine was mid mounted both features as per Bagheera.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Two engine sizes were available 70hp 1.6 litre / 97 cui from the Talbot Solara saloon and 115 hp 2.2 litre / 134 cui with a heavy cast iron block from the Talbot Togara saloon the later being available with single or twin carburetors which boosted the power to 142hp.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Production of the Murena only lasted from 1980 to 1983 by which time Renault, to whom Matra were about switch allegiance from Talbot part of the Peugeot Société Anonyme group, asked Matra to desist from building any more Murena’s.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

In all 10,680 Murena’s were built before Matra’s Romorantin plant switched to building Renault Espace mini vans.

Thanks for joining me on this “Galvanised Chassis Frame” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Baby Urraco – Matra Simca Bagheera

After Matra entered an agreement with Chrysler Europe to distribute it’s Ford V4 powered 530 through the Simca dealer network in 1969 the two companies agreed to work on a new Chrysler Simca powered replacement which became the Matra Simca Bagheera which was launched in 1973.

Matra Simca Bagheera,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Designed by Antonis Volanis the Bagheera, named after Rudyard Kiplings panther character in The Jungle Book, retained the mid engine layout of it’s 530 and Djet antecedents, but unusually featured three seats abreast in the cockpit.

Matra Simca Bagheera,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Originally the Bagheera was powered by an 84 hp 1294 cc / 78.9 cui 4 cylinder engine, sourced from the Simca 1100 TI 5 door hatchback, which gave the car a top speed of 101 mph, in 1975 a Bagheera S with a 90 bhp version of the Simca 1308 1442cc / 87.9 cui engine raised the top speed up to 109 mph. Three prototype Bagheera’s were built with two transverse engines driving a common prop shaft to make a U configuration, as seen on the Bugatti T45, but never got beyond the evaluation stage

Matra Simca Bagheera,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

British motoring LJK Streight was so impressed with the Bagheera when he tested it that he likened it to a “baby Lamborghini Urraco”, the only downside to the model was that the steel chassis beneath the fibre glass body had no rust protection and was prone to rot.

Matra Simca Bagheera,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

The Bagheera’s body was updated in 1976 and the interior in 1978, the model seen here at the Classic Motor Show was built in 1979, in July 1979 the model was rebranded as a Talbot Matra Bagheera, and was first registered in the UK in April 1984.

In all 47,802 Bagheeras were built between 1973 and 1980 when the model was replaced by the Talbot Matra Murena a model I shall be looking at next Tuesday.

Thanks for joining me on this “Baby Urraco” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be visiting the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham. Don’t forget to come back now !


Voiture Des Copains – Matra Simca 530LX

In 1967 Matra replaced it’s René Bonnet inspired Djet model with the 530 an all new mid engined 2+2 deigned by Philippe Guédon who had previously worked for Simca.

Conceived as the car for buddies, Voiture Des Copains, the 2+2 with pop up lights and a targa top was powered by a German sourced 70hp V4 Ford accessed by through the rear window.

While the engines and drive train were built in Germany the steel back bone chassis were built by Carrier in Alençon, Normandy and assembly was completed 150 miles away by French coach builder Brissonneau et Lotz at Creil in Picardy.

Matra Simca 530LX

In 1969 the 530 was upgraded with the engine now producing 75hp and a deal was done with Chrysler Europe to distribute the Ford powered cars through their Simca network from 1970 and to work on a joint replacement.

Production of all but the motor and drive train for the 530 was also brought together under the single roof of the Matra Automobiles facility at Romorantin in the Loire Valley around this time.

Giovanni Michelotti was responsible for minor styling upgrades to the 530 which became the 530LX in 1970 these included replacing the acrylic glass removable rear window with a glass hatch held open with gas struts and the removal of a nudge bar from the front bumper.

Matra Simca 530LX

These 530LX ads found in the French journal “Connaissance des arts” date from March and May 1971 respectively five months before the introduction of the budget black bumper, orange or white only 530SX which had the targa top and pop up headlights deleted.

The under powered 530’s competitors included the Lotus Elan +2 and Porsche 912 which were both more expensive and the cheaper MG B GT.

9,609 530s, 2,062 530As, 4,731 530LXs and 1,146 530SX’s were built by the time production ceased in 1973.

Thanks for joining me on this “Voiture Des Copains” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Pole Sitter & Sister – Shadow Cosworth DN5 #DN5/1A #DN5/2A

Things were looking up for reigning Can Am Champions Don Nichols Shadow team in 1975, the Can Am series folded, but the team kept a strong US presence with a Dodge powered DN6 Formula 5000 team which used a similar Tony Southgate designed chassis to today’s featured DN5 design.

Following the dominant trend in F1 design the DN5 was built around a slimmer lower monocoque, than the previous years DN3, but with a longer and wider wheel base and track than many.

Shadow DN5, Silverstone Classic,

Jean Pierre Jarier put the DN5 #DN5/1A, seen here in the first third and sixth photographs at Silverstone Classic 2013, on pole on the cars debut in Argentina, but the car never started having stripped the crown wheel and pinion in the gearbox on the warm up lap.

Jumper was on pole again at the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix, but retired seven laps short of the finish after the fuel metering unit failed.

Shadow DN5, Donington Park Museum,

The non championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch saw the DN5’s run with a new TV test card like colour scheme and Tom qualified the sister #DN5/2A, seen in the close ups at Donington Park Museum, on pole and then ran away with the race while Jean Pierre finished 4 laps down from 3rd on the grid classified 8th with a fuel pump issue.

Further highlights of the season came in Spain where JPJ finished a season high 4th from 10th on the grid and at Monaco where still driving the two original chassis Tom and JPJ qualified 2nd and 3rd respectively, but both retired with accident damage which would be the final appearance of JPJ’s #DN5 1A.

At the British Grand Prix run at Silverstone Tom won his only career championship pole but retired after an opening lap accident, by now having scored two 6th place finishes in Belgium and Holland.

Shadow DN5, Silverstone Classic,

In Germany Tom still driving #DN5/2A converted 16th on the grid to a fourth place finish.

Meanwhile keen to find another engine supplier the similar Shadow DN7 with a V12 Matra engine, which I looked at a couple of weeks ago, had been built up for JPJ to drive in Austria and Italy.

Shadow DN5, Donington Park Museum,

While the Matra proved not to be quite the fillip to the team’s fortunes that were anticipated Tom drove #DN5/2A to the teams season high 3rd place finish in Austria from 15th on the grid.

At the non championship Swiss Grand Prix run at Dijon in France JPJ was once again on pole with the Cosworth powered #DN5/4A, Jumper looked like he was going to break his F1 duck, until the 34th lap from 60 when the transmission broke and he retired from the lead.

Shadow DN5, Donington Park Museum,

At the Italian Grand Prix Tom once again drove through the field coming home 6th from 14th on the grid.

#DN5/2A’s final appearance came at the 1975 US Grand Prix where Tom qualified 7th but finished unclassified 7 laps down.

Shadow DN5, Silverstone Classic,

Having failed to convince Matra of their suitability as a partner for the 1976 season Shadow also lost their sponsor UOP meaning Tony Southgates new Shadow DN8 was put on hold while the team continued running the DN5’s in B spec, which I shall look at next year, that was introduced to meet new regulations from the Spanish Grand Prix.

Thanks for joining me on this “Pole Sitter & Sister” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Maserati Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !