Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!

Matra Murena- 1983


By 1980, the Bagheera had been replaced by Project M551, or the Murena. It was designed by Greek stylist Antonis Volanis, who also worked on both the M530 and the Bagheera. He took the best elements from the Bagheera and built upon them. The Murena had the familiar hatchback style and mid-engine as the Bagheera, which made for easy access. Most notably, the Murena carried over the distinct feature of three-across seating. The main differences were that the Murena had a higher build quality and more power.

Unlike Matra’s earlier cars whose frames were prone to rust, the Murena utilized an industry-first hot-dipped galvanized frame that was backed by an unprecedented six year rust-through warranty. The galvanizing process added protection and increased the torsional stiffness of the chassis by a measurable amount. After the process was completed, the body was riveted and bonded to it, producing a strong and long-lasting vehicle. The Murena’s body consisted of even fewer panels than the Bagheera, only 12 compared with 19, comprising its sleek 70’s wedge profile. This resulted it a drag coefficient better than the Bagheera, down to 0.32.

The Murena’s engine came in two versions; the 1.6-liter SIMCA 1100 engine from the Talbot Solara, and soon after, a more robust 2.2-liter SIMCA Type 180 engine, developed for the Talbot Tagora. The Murena seen here is the 2.2 version. Another substantial change between the Bagheera and the Murena was the addition of a 5-speed manual transmission.
The Murena was the last in the line of the three-across-seat, mid-engine, two-door coupes from Matra. Sales were lackluster, due in part to the rise of the hot hatch. This newer class of car could seat four, go faster, and cost less than a traditional sports coupe.

The Murena was never sold in the US. Just 10,613 examples were made before Matra was bought by Renault in 1983, which led to the marque being discontinued. Its production line at the Romorantin-Lanthenay Plant was converted to produce the Matra-designed Espace MPV, also part of the Museum’s collection.

Manufacturer: Talbot-Matra
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Traverse, mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Water-cooled, 2.2-liter, inline, 4 cylinder 2155cc OHC engine, 118bhp
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Top Speed: 113 mph
Years of Production: 1980 – 1983
Number Produced: 10,613 total
Original Cost: £7,205 ($10,462 USD in 1983)