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Matra Sports 530- 1970

Matra Sports 530- 1970

Matra’s 530 was the first all-Matra road car design, carrying over the mid-engine architecture of its predecessor, the Jet (neé D’jet) series. The polarizing design was led by Philippe Guédon (later, best known for the Renault Espace) and styling was by a Simca stylist on loan, Jacques Nocher. While the basic layout echoed the Jet, the use of the very compact Ford “Cologne” V4 engine and transaxle left room for +2 seating in the rear, along with a reasonable trunk.

The earliest A-Series 530s had a simple front grille opening, a two-piece Targa roof, and a removable Perspex rear window, providing the only access to the engine for service. These were contract-built by railcar manufacturer Brissonneau & Lotz. Later A-series and the Michelotti-facelifted mid-series cars such as the LX seen here were built in-house by Matra. The LX was differentiated by more practical bumpers, a hinged rear glass hatch over the engine, and a freshened interior. As prices rose, a de-contented SX variant, known by the public as “The Pirate”, was released, with 2 or 4 headlights mounted on pods and flat black trim being the most notable differences. The now-optional Targa roof was also eliminated, now fixed in place.

Critics of the period were never sure what the 530 was supposed to be. It cost about the same as a Lotus Elan +2, but with nowhere near the performance. (Both were eclipsed by the MGB GT in cost (cheaper) and performance (quicker, better MPG), however.) Matra never intended it to be an all-out sports car, instead marketing it to 20-30 year-olds as a car for friends – "La Voiture de la Joie de Vivre!", (“The Car For the Joy of Living!”) The twenty piece polyester body and dependable Ford engine were both tremendous positives, but the rust-prone non-galvanized frame, made up of 274 welded members, later proved problematic for long-term owners. Production ended in 1973 after six years, replaced by the equally unusual Bagheera.

Specifications
Manufacturer: S.A. Engins Matra
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Ford-sourced 1699cc water-cooled OHV V4, 75hp
Transmission: Ford-sourced 4-speed manual
Top Speed: 108mph
Years Produced: 1967-73
Number Produced: 9609 all models; 4731 LX
Cost: Approximately 20,000 French francs (around $3900 USD)

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