The dreams of many manufacturers have been to prevail in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and that dream came true for Matra in 1972 when the first racing car to see the checkered flag was the car you see in these images. Low, sharp, simple, primitive, and powerful, the French model deserved to be in a museum forever, that of Matra herself, but those still responsible for the French firm have been forced to auction it next month for a reason. little ‘decorous’.
The car in question is the Matra MS 670-01, fitted with a No. 52 MS12 engine and a short-tail body so that Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo could make the most of its 416 hp at the La Sarthe circuit. And they did it so well that they didn’t even have a major handicap with the brake problems they experienced, which forced the two drivers to make more pit stops than necessary. Nothing foreshadowed his fate then.
Following its success, the car returned to the factory to prepare for the 1973 season. The big goal was to triumph again at Le Mans, a prize that this car did not get, but at least it participated in four prestigious tests and ended with a victory in the 1,000 km of Zeltweg (in June) as the best result (with Pescarolo and Larrousse ). By then, the car had another engine and the final part of the body had been stylized to be more aerodynamic.
Since then Jean-Luc Lagardere, owner of Matra, decided to use it as a show car. He dressed it aesthetically like the car he had won in 1973 and kept its V12 engine and gearbox signed by Porsche, although both elements were empty. After a period of roaming, finally, in 1976 a permanent location was sought in the Matra Museum in Romorantin (France). It was an old building that lacked even heating, but the mechanics took care to keep it well protected until in 2000 the museum changed to more modern facilities.
In 2002 its restoration began Everything seemed to be wonderful for the Matra and for those who could visit him in the new museum. But this was interrupted when Matra Automobiles disappeared as a car manufacturer (it had been making the Espace and the ‘ill-fated’ Avantime): there was no choice but to return the unfinished car to the museum. Even when? Until 2008, when the EPAF company restarted its tune-up by taking a Matra V12 MS 76 engine and the gearbox of the car that had won Le Mans in 1973, all of which were in the museum itself.
In 2010 the car was completed and in 2012 it returned to the track for the first time in 30 years to participate in the 40th anniversary of Matra. And having the car exposed and restored for so long has indeed been nice, but brief a judge ordered in 2020 that Matra compensate the workers who were fired in 2003 by unfair dismissal. And even if it is late, justice must be done. So Matra has been forced to auction it to pay the four million euros that in total the Lagardere Group (owner of Matra) must pay its former workers.
The auction will take place in Paris this February 5 at 4:00 p.m. local time, and the final price of the car has been estimated between 4 and 7.5 million euros. We know that after the auction what will be exhibited in the museum will be a replica. But we all know that visiting that museum will never be the same.