Matra: The Unconventional and Unexpected French Superhero
The French have always had a penchant for doing things a little differently. Take Matra, for example.
The Matra R530 is a medium range air-to-air missile normally fitted to the Dassault Mirage fighter jet.
The Matra M530, on the other hand, is a mid-engine sports car. Of course, that was no coincidence, as the first real Matra sports car was named after the missile built by the same company’s weapon division.
Yet the company’s abnormal conventions didn’t end at naming a mid-engine sports car after an infrared homing missile, making Matra one of the more interesting — albeit obscure — footnotes in French automotive history. The company went from producing front-line weaponry to winning the Formula One title in five years, won Le Mans three times on the trot, and produced some of the first minivans. Yet, at the height of their power, they hung up their automotive jacket and today they produce….bicycles?
Junkyard Find: 1963 Ford Taunus 17M
Last week, I left the Return of the LeMonites 24 Hours of LeMons and went straight to Sweden for a car-freak field trip with Dr. G.D. Yo-Man. Surströmming, runestones, black metal, and, of course, junkyards full of weird (to Americans) European cars. Bloms Bilskrot, located in Söråker, boasts what must be thousands of cars from the 1940s through the 1990s, and the inventory extends well into dense forest where decades-old trees grow through engine compartments and plants grow on mulch on car roofs. Today’s Junkyard Find was located in the less wooded part of Blom’s, so I didn’t have to climb over any fallen trees in order to photograph it.
Vellum Venom: Uwe Bahnsen, Car Designer, RIP
Never forget: people make all the difference. This often overlooked fact in the glamorous world of automotive styling rings true for the life of Mr. Uwe Bahnsen. I froze in my tracks when I heard of his passing on Car Design News. His work at Ford and with the Industrial Design community influenced me, and every American who loved cars in the 1980s.
How ironic that Mr. Bahnsen’s passing was the week TTAC’s own Ford Sierra passed its citizenship test in Texas: so here’s a great Germanic-Texas Beer for you, Mr. Bahnsen.