Spiritual successor to the very successful Matra Bagheera, the Matra Murena had very little that wasn’t going for it. Nobody could describe it as a fantastic car, or a super-car, but that’s hardly the point: as a mid-engine, affordable sports car, it worked quite well.
One of the remarkable things about it, especially seen from today’s perspective, is the fact that the Matra Murena had three bucket seats side by side, with no backseat. It’s alright, I guess, but seems quite bizarre from a traditional North American point of view.
The 1980 Matra Murena relied on a 1.6 or 2.2 liter engine four-cylinder engine, which at 118 horsepower, gave this little car undoubted spirited performance, with a 121 mph top speed and a 0-60 time of 9.2 seconds (for the bigger engine). This power was delivered to the rear wheels courtesy of a very efficient and smooth Citroen CX five-speed manual transmission. Before production ceased in 1984, Matra managed to squeeze out a few ‘S’ models with 142 horsepower.
The sad story of the Matra Murena is that while this car had everything going for it, it was felled by the unfortunate reality of company politics: shares changed hands, and someone wanted to built minivan more than a 3-seat sports car. Don’t get me wrong, the Matra Murena was never going to have the success of the Ford Mustang, or anything close to it, but it was a reliable, fun car and a consistent seller. Too bad.