Designing a car isn’t rocket science – or so you would think. When you’ve got actual rocket scientists working on it, you shouldn’t have problems, right? Well, the 1973 Matra Bagheera had plenty of those, since Matra’s main business at the time was rocket launchers, satellites and anti-submarine weapon systems! They probably figured that war was going out of business, and wanted to diversify with sports cars, the result in this case being the Bagheera. It was a pretty good car, considering the pedigree, with good handling, a great ride and excellent brakes. What really set it apart from the competition, well, from anything, actually was the three-abreast seating. The engineers figured, quite rightly, that was better to have an extra seat for a full grown adult than two little “children’s seats” in the back that even actual children flee, never mind anybody else!
The only place the Matra Bagheera didn’t impress, actually, was the engine, which is a touch sad for a sports car. It featured a pathetic – yes, pathetic 1.3-liter engine that developed 84 horsepower. Now, the car itself was pretty good, thanks to its excellent handling and road demeanor, but 84 horsepower on a sports car, even in 1973, that’s pretty bad. Top speed was an underwhelming 100 miles per hour, while 0-60 acceleration was 12 seconds.
The 1973 Matra Bagheera survived relatively unchanged until 1980, was updated, then finally cancelled in 1984 when new parent company Renault decided it would rather make minivans – the Espace.