I love discovering ‘new’ cars.
I’ve always known of Matra. I remember seeing a Matra Simca Bagheera back when I was a wee lad in Italy, a low-slung coupe that looked like a spaceship to me.
Then I never saw another single one until I came across something slightly older from the French maker at the Marronnier Run the other weekend.
It was unlike anything I’d ever seen, a very compact yet quite long uniquely styled coupe.
I first had to go up to it, and have a quick look at the badge on its protruding nose. Matra Sports. Hmmm…
What about at the back, any markings or emblems that look or sound familiar? JET 6. Nope, nothing. A quick search, however, on Google revealed all.
It turns out that in 1962 the René Bonnet Djet – as it was initially called – was the world’s first rear mid-engined production road car. A few years later René Bonnet Automobiles went out of business, and Matra bought it out.
In 1965 Matra slightly redesigned the car, made it slightly bigger and fitted it with a larger engine, and that is what you see here.
The thing only weighted 660kgs, a nice reminder of just how simple cars used to be back then.
From some angles the pointy nose with its recessed spaces for the yellow driving lights has an almost Alpine A110 feel about it.
The frunk lid swings open to the side and allows access to the full-size spare.
The car was down on frills; it ran on steel wheels with shiny chrome hubcaps and dummy knockoffs.
The roof is nothing more than a lid, remove it, store it under the hatch and you can enjoy open-air motoring.
The JET6 boasted fully independent suspension & disc brakes at all four corners, quite the advanced set up for the time and the price range of the car.
Then of course there’s the engine. I almost didn’t spotlight the car as when I asked the owner to show me the engine he said it would be too difficult to move the bags from his trunk and open up the covers.
Fast forward 20 minutes and the car had a crowd around it, everyone looking at the little four banger perched right in the middle of the chassis. Maybe I didn’t ask in the right way?
This is the same 1,255 cc Gordini tuned engine that sat at the back of the Renault 8 Gordini that was parked up next to the Chrysler Newport boat…ehm sorry, convertible. The little G-stamped motor is good for 105hp which considering the weight would be enough for considerable amounts of fun.
Venting around the top portion of the hatch and the side of the car allows the engine to shed some heat.
And that’s where you store the roof panel once you pop it off during a nice sunny day.
The little two seater has a nice and simple, symmetrical cabin and dash layout with minimal instrumentation and wood trimmed panels.
So yeah, I love finding out about cars I’ve never heard about.
It’s educational and inspiring and in this particular case it makes you further appreciate Japan’s culture of the motorcar.
Dino Dalle Carbonare