Matra Simca Bagheera
The Matra Simca Bagheera was produced between1973 to 1980. However, it didn’t live up to the exceptional performance of its predecessors. It’s believed that Matra sold the Simca Bagheera using its long-standing reputation in motor racing. These include 1 formula one driver’s championship, 5 french formula two championships, and 3 victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans, etc. In this regard, the Matra Simca Bagheera was lacking behind. In fact, this hatched-back sports car won the ADAC award for the poorest quality car in 1975.
The car had several issues but one thing it had going for it is its design. Matra had veered from the tubular chassis design that was common with racing vehicles at the time. Instead, they opted for a more rugged, unitary configuration that made the Matra Simca Bagheera adorable. A total of about 48,000 units were made and sold between 1973 to 1980.
The Lancia D24 won the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio road races in 1954. However, it was abandoned due in part to the ambitious nature of Gianni Lancia. Gianni was even more ambitious than his father, Vincenzo and after his demise, Gianni and his mother took control of the firm. The young Lancia had several victories with the Aurelia B20 GT, which was the first racing car from the company.
Aurelia B20 participated in the Le Mans among many other races, with class wins. After Aurelia B20 proved to be a success, Gianni pushed further, his determination oiled by the victory of the B20. In no time, the company released the Lancia D20 that made major waves competing against the likes of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo to secure third place in the 1953 Mille Miglia race. It was a dream come true for Gianni when the D24, a successor of the D20, took first place in two major races.
Design and Specifications
This car has a hatched-back design with retractable headlamps. The back opens to reveal the engine which is placed behind the back passenger seat. Midway through its 7 years of production, the chassis was redesigned by Jacques Nochet. While the French designer bestowed upon it the beautiful curvy exterior, Antonia Volanis, a Greek designer was in charge of the interior.
The chassis is made with pressed steel in a somewhat unitary design. However, the panels which are a total of 19 are made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester. This was a new technology at the time and one that made it possible to produce a large volume at a low cost.
In 1976, the type 1 Matra Simca Bagheera received an overhaul with new bumpers, rear glass, and tail lamps. The engine remained the same. The changes improved the aerodynamics of the Matra Simca Bagheera and so the model number was changed to type II.
This super was a mean racer with a multi-tubular steel frame and aluminum body. If its sleek rounded shape easily brings to mind a boat, it is because this 750kg mass of steel looks like a boat on wheels. Originally, the Lancia D24 came in a bright red color. However, its most prominent feature is the vents in the Burnet that houses the 245 bhp twin-spark engine.
Form Factor – 3-door hatchback
Length – 3974 mm (156.5 in)
Width – 1734 mm (68.3 in)
Height – 1175 mm (46.3 in)
The entire frame has a dry weight of about 750 kg with the following dimensions;
Length – 3790 mm (149.2 in)
Width – 1440 mm (57.6 in)
Height – 970 mm (38.2 in) and;
Wheelbase – 2400 mm (94.5 in)
The Matra Simca Bagheera has a curb weight of 965 kg (2127 lbs)
750 kg (1,653.5 lb)
At first, the prototype was fitted with the upper and lower A-arms having telescopic hydraulic dampers with longitudinal torsion bars. It also had anti-roll bars that gave it extra stability when cornering. This type of suspension was used in both the front and back. However, due to its unsatisfactory performance, the design was discontinued when production began in favor of trailing arms with transverse torsion bars and telescopic shock-absorbers. Similar to the prototype, the final design also had an anti-roll bar at the rear.
It uses lower trailing arms, transverse type suspensions with a semi-elliptic leaf spring and telescopic shock absorbers in the front. On the rear, it has a DeDion axle type suspension with quarter-elliptic leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers.
The Matra Simca Bagheera was released as two models. The major difference being the engine size. The first model (tagged type 1) had a 1294 cc Simca Poissy engine. This is a 4-cylinder engine with 2 two-barrel Weber carburetors and an overhead valve capable of producing 62.6 kW (84 hp) at 6000 rpm.
In 1975, the Matra Simca Bagheera received an upgrade. This model tagged ‘S’ came with a larger 1442 cc engine with 2-two carburetors. The power output of this engine is 67.1 kW (90 hp). Both the type I and Model S engines were transversely mounted and attached to a 4-speed manual transmission.
The Lancia D24 comes fitted with a massive 3284 cc V6 longitudinal engine. It is capable of delivering between 240 – 270 hp @ 6200 to 6800 rpm and a top speed of 265 km/h. The engine also uses 3 Weber Carburettors, 2 valves per cylinder, and a compression ratio of 9.0:1. Attached to it is a 4-speed manual transmission with a limited-slip differential.
Performance and Problems
The Matra Simca Bagheera put up an impressive performance. It could achieve a top speed of 185 km/h to 190 km/h. This was sufficiently fast and considering its lightweight, driving this car feels like a breeze. Also, the Mid-Rear (MR) layout distributes the weight of the engine throughout the body, giving it good balance.
However, one of the major problems with the Matra Simca Bagheera is the fiberglass polyester panels used on the body and the steel chassis underneath. The panels failed to give a perfect finish making it prone to water leakages. Also, the steel chassis was not protected and this made it rust easily. The weak panel finishing and unprotected steel chassis were a matching disaster.
Another issue was with the small engine. The 1294 cc engine produces a loud noise as it accelerates beyond a certain speed level. It becomes obvious that the engine is struggling to catch up with what’s expected of it.
This isn’t an issue with the larger engine in the S models.
The Lancia D24 is a beast on paper and on the tracks. Its massive 3284 cc engine is capable of delivering speeds of 265 km/h. It has good stability with excellent weight distribution, a combined effect of its width, and low CG. Overall, this is one sports car any racing enthusiasts will appreciate.
Simca Poisy 1100 OHV
V6 (60 degrees) front longitudinal
1294 cc and 1442 cc
Bore and Stroke
76.7 mm x 70 mm and 76.7 mm x 78 mm
88 mm x 90 mm
A-arms longitudinal torsion bars with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars.
Double wishbone transverse leaf spring with hydraulic dampers
Trailing arms with transverse torsion bars with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars.
De Dion suspension with hydraulic dampers
84 hp @ 6200 rpm
265 hp @ 6200 rpm
108 Nm – 122 Nm
4 Disk brakes with 238 mm fixed caliper front and 234 mm floating caliper rear
Front – 380 mm diamter drum brakes
Rear – 320 mm diameter drum brakes.
3974 mm (156.5 in)
3790 mm (149.2 in)
1734 mm (68.3 in)
1440 mm (57.6 in)
1175 mm (46.3 in)
970 mm (38.2 in)
2400 mm (94.5 in)
We have fully reviewed the Matra Simca Bagheera and the Lancia D24. Two exotic supercars from the 1950s and ’70s. Our comparison of each car revealed their strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the review, we are convinced that each gives a great performance, however, the Lancia D24 is more preferred in terms of maintenance, all-around performance, and speed. But if you are on a budget, the Matra Simca Bagheera may be well within your reach.