May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on May 4, 2015

Matra LogoBrief History About Matra

Matra (automobiles) was founded in 1967 in France by Jean-Luc Lagardère. The company had previously been involved in aeronautical/weapons (missiles) manufacturing. Jean-Luc Lagardère joined the Matra company in 1963 and while supplying the struggling ‘Automobiles René Bonnet’ company with fibreglass, decided to buy it in 1965 to start Matras journey into building cars.

The first all Matra car was the aerodynamically styled 530. Matra had much success in motorsport with this car and these early successes helped Matra build a name early on.

In 1970 Chrysler bought a 50% share in Matra. In 1973 the Matra Simca Bagheera was built (Simca was part of the Chrysler group).

Motor racing was still a strong point for Matra and Jackie Stewart driving a Matra-Tyrrell race car won at Le Mans in 1973 and 1974.

In 1979 Chrysler sold its share to Peugeot. Peugeot, who owned Talbot at the time together with Matra then built the Talbot Matra Murena in 1980.

In 1981 Matra became independent again, with Peugeot selling its shares back to Matra.

In 1983 Renault bought Matra and they built the first European minivan, the ever popular Espace until 2001. After this Matra couldn’t stay in business and closed its doors in 2003, along with the death of Jean-Luc Legardere, who fell ill. The remaining assets of the company being bought by Pininfarina.

Matra M530
M530 1967-1973

Matra Bagheera
Bagheera 1973-1980

Talbot Matra Murena
Talbot Matra Murena 1980-1983