Non-conformist innovation

The lines needed to be something new and out of the ordinary hence the car’s appearance was somewhat controversial and awkward in some ways, mainly because of the long wheelbase compared with other cars its size

Matra entered the world of four wheels in 1963 with the Djet, developed on mechanicals derived from Renault. We would have to wait until 1967 to see what is considered to be the first real Matra to come on to the market, the M530, or simply the 530. The car was conceived as a 2 + 2 sports car with mid-mounted engine and an affordable price, at the behest of then general manager of Matra Sports, Jean-Luc Lagardère and designer Philippe Gédon, whilst the car was actually designed by Jacques Nocher, both designers already connected to Simca. The body was made by Générale Application Plastique, which had previously been purchased by Matra. The lines needed to be something new and out of the ordinary hence the car’s appearance was somewhat controversial and awkward in some ways, mainly because of the long wheelbase compared with other cars its size; the nose was too pronounced and not particularly sporty; and the headlights were retractable.

The engine was a 1600 cc Ford Taunus V4 producing 73 bhp, giving it modest performance despite its weight of just 860 kg. It had Targa style bodywork and the hard-top could be removed and placed in a special compartment above the spare wheel. The rear window could also be taken out to create an open air effect. Although the car’s lines could certainly not be called a masterpiece, it was highly innovative in that it had a steel load-bearing structure to which the glass-fibre panels were simply glued, an innovation which could be adapted to low-production volumes and was simple to perform since it did not require complex production systems such as welding and body-moulding lines.

From the outset the 530 was not very warmly received, despite Matra being crowned with many sporting successes at the time. In 1970 the car’s name was changed to M530LX when it received some minor technical updates; the only stylistic change was to paint the tail black. In 1971 the budget-priced M530SX appeared; it had only two seats, reduced equipment levels and four fixed instead of two retractable headlights. The M530 went out of production in 1973 after 9,609 examples had been built. It was replaced by the Bagheera model.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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