It is 1977. The small Chrysler daughter Matra is showing the world a new concept at the Geneva Motor Show. The Matra Rancho gives substance to a new form of car use. The French Multi Purpose Utility Vehicle is a combination of use of space and application of various elements, giving the impression that the car is also suitable for off-road use, and is recommended as an all-road car. pour all the way or not: a unique concept is born.
In the early 1973s, Matra, a Chrysler subsidiary, which specializes in the construction of sports cars, considered expanding its activities. The new sports car – the Matra Simca Bagheera – has been well received. Matra wants to develop a car that fits well within the European Chrysler range and at the same time appeals to a new audience. The start-up of the project is gaining momentum, partly due to the oil crisis of XNUMX, all the more so as Matra expects a declining demand for sports cars as a result of that crisis.
Range Rover and Simca 1200 Campero sources of inspiration
It is decided to develop a car that is based on Simca technology and at the same time must be accessible to Chrysler Europe customers. The success of the Range Rover is a starting point for putting the ideas for a car with new uses into a more solid form. In the end, the puzzle pieces fall into place – partly due to the success of the Simca 1200 Campero, a Utility Vehicle, which is available in Spain. Project P12 is taking shape.
Chassis of 1100 Pickup is one of the starting points
At Chrysler's intercession, Matra is bringing one copy of the Simca 1200 Campero to France. The basis of this forms the ideal starting point for designer Antonis Volanis to design the Matra Rancho. From a cost point of view, an existing basis is chosen: the successful Simca 1100. The pickup version is used to develop the Matra Rancho. It means that the technical layout and suspension, as well as some sheet metal parts, are carried over from the Simca, while the chassis of the 1100 Pickup is extended. The wheel drive is also taken over from the 1100, which means that the Matra Rancho does not get the four-wheel drive that matches the tough appearance of the car. However, the ground clearance is increased to 21 centimeters. This somewhat compensates for the absence of four-wheel drive.
Combination of Chrysler Simca parts and unique applications
He also gets the 1442 cc engine from the Chrysler Simca 1308 GT. A box with adapted transmission ratios, the brakes from the Simca 1100 TI and the dashboard and seats from the 1100 GLS are also mounted. Meanwhile, Matra has devised a construction of polyester and fiberglass for the rear of the car – including a two-part opening and therefore a practical rear section. That stern can accommodate up to 2200 liters of luggage. Special: the compartment can be equipped with an optional double bed. In appearance, the Matra Rancho catches the eye, thanks in part to the richly applied plastic protective parts and a protective bar at the front. This is how the Rancho makes its debut as Matra Simca in 1977 in Geneva. He was received with admiration and made his market debut not much later.
Adjustments are made sparsely after 1977. For example, in 1979 the Matra Rancho will also be available with a low-compression power source. From the beginning of the eighties – Matra Simca is now called Talbot Matra – more implementation levels followed. Like the Grand Raid, with electric winch at the front, a target light, differential lock, underbody protection and Bab Terre all terrain tires (one on the roof and one under the rear floor) was suitable for the heavier work. The X – with alloy wheels, rev counter and tinted glass – is also a sought-after car today. The Découvrable from 1981 deserves special mention. This is a variant in which the rear roof section and the abundant glass have been replaced by a frame with a linen span. The AS is a two-seater and intended for commercial purposes.
Thank you very much
Special, that is, the Matra Rancho. Because the French “tout chemin” lifestyle car is seen as the first midi SUV. The Matra Rancho is produced 56,457 times, to be replaced in 1984 by ... the Renault Espace. Peugeot – owner of Chrysler France and Matra since 1978 – refuses the design for financial reasons. Renault says “merci beaucoup”, puts an end to the Matra Murena and makes the Espace a great success. And that can be attributed, among other things, to the pioneering work that Matra performed with the Rancho.