Thursday, December 3, 2009

1977 Matra Simca Bagheera 1.4

Uh-oh. This could be trouble... This car is weird, French ("Weird" and "French"... that may be redundant), virtually unknown in the US, named after a cartoon character (the panther in Jungle Book) and uses parts from a long out-of-business car company... This is my type of car!

The Bagheera is a mid engined sports car built by Matra from 1973 - 1979 It was designed by Antoine Volanis, who would later, arguably, create the first minivan, the Renault Espace (which was originally a Matra vehicle). The engine, transmission and suspension came from Simca. This is a three seat car. The occupants sit 3 abreast, which I assume is pretty cozy. (Matra initially considering a central diving position for this car, which would explain the 3 seats. Or not.) The body is fiberglass and mounted on a steel frame.

This car appears to be a Series II. It has a Simca 1442cc engine, which produced 90 HP and took the car to 60 MPH in around 11 seconds (Remember, this is a 1977 car. 11 seconds was respectable for a 4 cylinder car back then) It is being sold as a "fixer upper". The seller, a used car dealer in Rhode Island, does not say what type of work it needs. The frames on these cars rusted horribly, so that would be the first thing to check.

According to a Matra website, there were over 47,000 Bagheeras built between 1973 and 1979. That's a huge number of cars for a small manufacturer. It was never officially exported to the US.

This is the type of car I'd really like to own. It's good looking and unusual. It's not overly complex and fairly easy to work on. While parts are not readily available in the US, many can be still be found in Europe. In all my years of attending car shows, I've seen 2. Instead of being a spectator at the shows, I could be an exhibitor again.

Yeah, this car could be trouble... It's located about a 90 minute drive from where I live. I could look at it before going to work one day. Someone needs to talk me out of doing that... (I used to have a deal with my friend Jeff... If I saw a car I wanted, but logically shouldn't buy, I was to call him and he was supposed to talk me out of it. If he saw a car he wanted, but shouldn't buy, he was to call me and I'd was supposed to talk him out of it. That worked, oh, maybe twice. Usually, after one of us would describe our "find", the other would say, "Wow, that sounds cool. Go for it." Best laid plans...)

Located in Foster, RI, find the Craigslist listing here.

There are some really good websites dedicated to Matra and the Bagheera...

Matra Sport is very well done and has some great photos. After you enter the site, click on "History" for information on the Bagheera and all Matra vehicles. Find it here.

Matra-Bagheera.com hasn't been updated since 2004, but still has some good info and pictures.

Rootes-Chrysler.co.uk has a nice piece on the Bagheera. Find it here. (This is a pretty cool website if you're into Chrysler UK, Rootes and Simca cars, or just like reading about older, obscure in the US, cars. I've spent a lot of time checking it out. Find the homepage here.

Matra is still in business. It was owned by Pinninfarina from 2003 until January of this year, when they sold it to Segula Technologies. You can find a brief Wiki article about Matra and its history here.

1 comment:

m4ff3w said...

The Bagheera is one of my dream cars. Few cars do I lust after as much as a Bagheera; except of course a Murena.