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Matra Reviews

MATRA – Mécanique-Aviation-Traction – was a French aerospace group that had ambitions in car manufacture. It took over René Bonnet and continued making its sports car. It penned its own glass fibre design – the 530 – in 1967 as a V4 mid-engined coupé and targa model. It then jumped into bed with Simca to build the exciting Bagheera. Ironically the marque is better known for the ‘lifestyle’ Rancho that effectively invented the idea of rugged-looking faux off-roaders.

The Renault Espace and Avantime were also built by the company, although they never carried the Matra name. The former was a runaway success, the latter a brave but total failure, which caused Matra to retreat from car-building in 2003.

Good: A mid-engined pioneer for the road
Bad: A bit unrefined and extreme for a road car
Good: Practical and usable sorts car with agile handling and plenty of room
Bad: Rough engine, adequate performance, quirky styling
Good: Mid-engined sports car with three-abreast seating, baby-supercar looks
Bad: Structural corrosion, it's crying out for more power
Good: Three-abreast seating, willing performance in 2.2-litre form, fine dynamics, striking styling
Bad: Left-hand drive only, 1.6-litre cars a bit gutless
Good: Funky to look at, useful and huge inside
Bad: Rattly engines, corrosion of anything that isn't glass fibre