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Forgotten Rides: Matra Bagheera

Posted in Bizarre, Foreign Cars, History by Dustin Driver | August 1st, 2010 | 2 Responses |

In The Jungle Book, Bagheera was sleek and serious, Mowgli’s mentor in the savage jungle. In the automotive world, the Bagheera was the bastard offspring of Chrysler-owned French car company Simca, French engineering firm Matra, and Greek designer Antonis Volanis. The sporty hatchback sat three across, had a mid-mounted four banger, and was made of polyester (the body panels). The little mongrel was capable of 110 miles per hour and was reportedly fun to drive. In the late ’70s, the mad French engineers developed a U8 for the car. Not a typo. The U engine was made by welding two straight fours together side by side, then linking their two crankshafts with a chain. Unfortunately, the U8 never went into production. The Bagheera was plagued by horrible reliability and atrocious build quality and Chrysler killed the car in 1980. Almost 48,000 Bagheers were made between ’73 and ’80. Few survive today in one piece. The car’s polyester body panels were nearly impervious to the ravages of weather and time, but its steel chassis was completely unprotected and prone to oxidative disintegration.

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2 Responses

  1. Brian Warren says:

    I had never heard of a U8 before… interesting stuff, indeed!
    The car reminds me of a Toyota Celica; same vintage!

  2. guest says:

    The folks that brought us the Murena, another forgotten car.