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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !