This is a Matra 530LX, it’s a relatively rare French 2+2 sports car that’s powered by a mid-mounted V4 engine – it’s one of relatively few mid-engined cars ever made with a pair of back seats.
The Matra 530 has been compared to the Lotus Elan 2+2 and it’s not hard to see why, both cars have fiberglass bodies, steel chassis, independent four-wheel suspension, 2+2 seating, and avant-garde styling,.
Fast Facts – The Matra 530 LX
- The Matra 530 was introduced in 1967 as a successor to the Matra Djet, a limited-production French sports car that had debuted in 1962. Matra, primarily an aerospace company, developed the 530 with the aim of producing a sports car that was more practical and accessible to a broader audience than the Djet.
- Designed by Philippe Guédon, the 530 showcased a unique blend of French design and state-of-the-art aerospace technology. It has a lightweight fiberglass body on a stiff steel chassis, a mid-mounted engine, and independent suspension at all four wheels.
- The 530 was powered by a mid-mounted 1.7 liter Ford Taunus V4 engine, delivering approximately 70 bhp. This engine choice was unusual for sports cars of the era, but it worked well in this context as it allowed room for small rear seats, and a trunk. The engine was paired with a 4-speed manual transmission, and no automatic was ever offered.
- The car you see here is one of the later Matra 530 LX models that had its design slightly refined by Giovanni Michelotti. The LX debuted at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show and they’re now one of the most desirable variants of the rare French vehicle.
Matra Automobiles: From Missiles To Sports Cars
Matra was founded in 1945 by Jean-Luc Lagardère and Marcel Chassagny with a single goal in mind – to develop the fastest twin-engine aircraft in the world. The company name was derived from “Mécanique Aviation Traction” and within two decades they would be producing aircraft, missiles, sports cars, satellites, and perhaps a little oddly, bicycles.
In 1951 the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in Europe would be powered by a Matra-built engine, and 10 years later Matra would be a key contractor for the early European space program, producing satellites.
Matra would buy vehicle manufacturer Automobiles René Bonnet in 1964 and embark on creating their own line of motor cars – it would be these cars that Matra is best remembered for today. Matra took over Bonnet due to the company entering financial difficulties but it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue acquisition – Matra had been supplying the bodies for the René Bonnet Djet as well as factory space.
The first Matra cars would essentially be renamed Bonnet Djets, first called the Matra-Bonnet Djet, then later the Matra Sports Djet. Interestingly, the French government gave a Matra-Bonnet Djet V S to Yuri Gagarin when he toured France in 1965.
The Matra 530
The first car that was completely developed in-house by Matra was the Matra 530 released in 1967. The 530 was named after Matra’s R.530 missile and designed by Philippe Guédon – the styling was entirely unique and undeniably French.
Matra realized that for their first car they needed to make it appealing to as many people as possible, this is why the 2+2 seating arrangement was settled on. The ability to have two adults up front and two kids in the back meant that the car could appeal to singles, couples, and couples with young kids.
The Matra 530 had a newly developed steel frame clothed in lightweight fiberglass body panels. Despite looking like a front-engined car, it’s actually rear-mid-engined, with the high-compression version of the 1.7 liter Ford Taunus V4 engine and transaxle located behind the rear set of two seats.
The compact design of this engine, being only two-cylinders long, made it ideal for this use case. It was able to fit snugly between the trunk and rear seats – almost mirroring the location of the V4 engine that had been installed in the Mustang I concept car back in 1962.
The car was developed with a two-piece removable targa top that could be stored in the front trunk on top of the spare wheel. On the earlier models the rear window could also be removed, for a truly open-air driving experience.
The Matra 530 LX was introduced in 1970, it featured some subtle design tweaks by Giovanni Michelotti, however Guédon’s original styling remained largely unchanged though a fixed roof was now offered as an option, the front and rear was given a slight face-lift, and the rear window became fixed in place.
In 1972 a lower cost option was needed, the company introduced the M530SX, which now had fixed headlights instead of pop-ups, a fixed roof, fixed seats, and a shelf in the rear rather than a pair of smaller seats.
The Matra 530 left production in 1973 with 9,609 cars made in total, and it was replaced by the Matra Bagheera, which would be succeeded by the Matra Murena in 1980.
The 1972 Matra 530LX Shown Here
The 1972 Matra 530LX you see here is finished in Golden Bronze Metallic over a black interior; it was originally delivered to its first owner in the Netherlands, and it had just 12,044 kms on the odometer – approximately 7,484 miles.
The listing notes that the paintwork is in good condition throughout as is the chrome trim and patinated interior. The car is left-hand drive, they were all finished in this configuration, and it’s noted that the car starts, brakes, and steers well.
If you’d like to read more about this unusual French classic or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Car & Classic. It’s being offered for sale out of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Images courtesy of Car & Classic
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