Matra was owned by the Floirat family. The name Matra became famous in the 1960s when it went into car production by buying Automobiles René Bonnet. Matra Automobiles produced racing cars and sports cars, and was very successful in racing.
In 1992 the Lagardère Group was radically restructured; acquiring more shares in Matra from Floirat, Daimler Benz and GEC, and Hachette from loirat, Crédit Lyonnais and Aberly. Lagardère merged Matra and Hachette to form Matra Hachette, of which Lagardère Group held 37.6%. Following a share swap in 1994 Lagardère held 93.3% of Matra Hachette’s stock. In 1996 Matra Hachette was formally merged into Lagardère.
The Djet was replaced with the Matra 530, which was powered by a Ford Taunus V4 engine. Matra also developed a close partnership with Simca in the 1970s, producing Simca-engined sports cars such as the Bagheera, the Murena and the Rancho, an early type of SUV - albeit that it was two-wheel-drive - which was based on the Simca 1100 pick-up bodyshell. This car remained in production into the '80s, after Simca's takeover by Peugeot.
In 1984 Renault launched the Matra built Espace minivan, a car conceived at Chrysler UK, and designed originally for Chrysler production in partnership with Matra. The car became a big success and, together with Mitsubishi Chariot and Plymouth Voyager, is credited with creating the entire market segment of modern minivans.
After the failure of the Renault Avantime (designed and built by Matra), on February 27, 2003 Matra announced its intention to close its automobile factory in Romorantin. In September 2003, Pininfarina SpA acquired Matra Automobile's engineering, testing and prototype businesses. The company was subsequently named Matra Automobile Engineering
Matra entered Formula One in 1968 when Jackie Stewart was a serious contender, winning several Grands Prix in the Tyrrell-run Matra MS10 which competed alongside the works team. The car's most innovative feature was the use of aviation-inspired structural fuel tanks. These allowed the chassis to be around lighter, while still being stronger than its competitors. The FIA considered the technology to be unsafe and decided to ban it for 1970.
Matra CEO Jean-Luc Lagardère made a radical strategic decision for the 1969 championship: The Matra works team would not compete in Formula One. Matra would instead focus its efforts on the Tyrrell team (renamed Matra International) and build a new DFV powered car with structural fuel tanks, even though it would only be eligible for a single season. The decision was even more radical given that Matra was seeking a partnership with Simca, then a subsidiary of the American company Chrysler, which would preclude using Ford-branded engines for the following year. Stewart won the 1969 title easily with the new Cosworth-powered Matra MS80, which corrected most of the weaknesses of the MS10. Stewart's title was the first won by a French chassis, and the only one won by a chassis built in France. It was a spectacular achievement from a constructor that had only entered Formula One the previous year.
Like Cosworth, Lotus and McLaren, Matra experimented with four wheel drive during the 1969 season. Johnny Servoz-Gavin became the one and only driver to score a point with a 4WD car, finishing sixth with the Matra MS84 at the Canadian Grand Prix. The MS84, along with Brabham's BT26A, was one of the last spaceframe cars to compete in Formula One.
For 1970 following the agreement with Simca, Matra asked Tyrrell to use their V12 rather than the Cosworth. Stewart got to test the Matra V12, but since a large part of the Tyrrell budget was provided by Ford, and another significant sponsor was French state-owned petroleum company Elf, which had an agreement with Renault that precluded supporting a Simca partner, the partnership between Matra and Tyrrell ended.
Matra V12 engines powered the Ligier Formula 1 team from 1976-78, an again from 1981-82.
The firm was also successful in endurance racing with cars powered by the V12 engine. The Matra 670 won Le Mans in 1972, 1973, and 1974. It also delivered the World Championship for Makes to Matra in both 1973 and 1974.
|Matra Sports||Matra MS7||Ford Straight-4||Johnny Servoz-Gavin||Ret|
|Matra Sports|| Matra MS11|
| Matra V12|
|Tyrrell Racing Organization|| Matra MS9|
|Ford Cosworth DFV||Jackie Stewart||Ret||Inj||Inj||4||1||3||6||1||Ret||6||1||7|
|Tyrrell Racing Organization|| Matra MS10|
|Ford Cosworth DFV||Jackie Stewart||1||1||Ret||1||1||1||2||1||Ret||Ret||4|
|Equipe Matra Elf||Matra-Simca MS120||Matra V12||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||4||Ret||Ret||3||5||13||Ret||Ret||6||3||8||Ret||5|
|Equipe Matra Sports|| Matra-Simca MS120B|
|Matra V12||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||6||Ret||9||7||7||Ret||8|
|Equipe Matra|| Matra-Simca MS120C|
|Matra V12||Chris Amon||Ret||15||Ret||6||6||3||4||15||5||Ret||6||15|