Tag Archives: Simca

My Other Car’s a Camper

You may not be familiar with Matra, but they’re probably the most important car company you’ve never heard of. Enormously successful on track, Matra won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1969, and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1972, ’73 and ’74. They designed the first MPV, the first crossover, and – for a while – they made this, the delightfully weird three-seat Bagheera sports car.

Powered by 1.3 or 1.5 litre Simca engines, the lightweight Bagheera was faster than most other European small sports cars of the time, and cheaper too. It was a trend-setter in other ways however, being appalling built to the point of winning the ‘Silver Lemon’ award in 1975 for poorest quality, which when combined with a chassis without any rust protection whatsoever, makes the Bagheera a very rare sight today.

One Bagheera that won’t rust is this excellent Model Team version by previous bloggee monstermatou, who has constructed his entirely from the parts found within the Creator 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper set. Following his stunning Citroen DS19 built for TLCB’s Lock-Down B-Model competition, Monster’s Matra continues his weird-French-cars-built-from-LEGO-sets theme, and his run of incredible B-Model builds that you can find at his photostream.

There’s more to see of monstermatou’s Matra Bagheera on Flickr via the link above, along with a host of other ace alternates including the aforementioned Citroen, a Morgan built from a Mini, and a Fiat 500 constructed from the same Camper set as this classic French oddball.

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Crossover Clown

Lego Mantra Rancho

Despite being more expensive yet not as good as the hatchback or saloon on which they’re based, demand for crossover vehicles is booming. Several cars claim to be the originator of this pointless trend, including Toyota’s RAV4 and Nissan’s Qashqai, and a few more were derided at the time of their launch and failed miserably – yet if they were sold in today’s market they would probably do rather well, such as Rover’s Streetwise and Pontiac’s Aztek – however it was actually a forgotten little French company that came up with the idea of a normal car with off-road looks first.

Matra’s Rancho was based on the little Simca 1100, but with the addition of fibreglass rear bodywork and faux-4×4 styling, and was built from the mid ’70s to the mid ’80s. In a curious twist of fate Matra then invented another new class of car as the Rancho’s replacement, the world’s first MPV; the Renault Espace.

It was the Espace that gained immediate popularity and spawned a whole new market, with every major motor manufacturer copying the formula by the mid ’90s. However, by the 2010s demand for MPVs was plummeting, to be replaced by – you’ve guessed it – the crossover, the car which the MPV had replaced three decades earlier. Weird.

This colourful Lego version of the late ’70s Matra Rancho comes from TLCB favourite Ralph Savelsberg aka Mad Physicist, and it’s apparently the star of a Dutch TV show called ‘Bassie & Adriaan’. You can see more of Ralph’s Rancho, as well as the neat caravan in tow, at his photostream – click the link above to see more.

Lego Bassie & Adriaan Caravan

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