1967 MATRA JET 6

An exquisite example of 60s French engineering. A Le Mans class win underlines serious sporting credentials.

Jacques, what were the main reasons you bought this car? 
First, shared enthusiasm with my dad for restoring the car as a project. (My father has considerable expertise as Gordini engine builder). Secondly, the absolute rarity of the car: it’s number 139 of 222 Jet 6 models built, and 70 are still in existence. And also the motorsport heritage: the car was a Le Mans class winner and it also competed in the Monte Carlo Rally. 

When did you buy it?
2012. 

How do you rate the overall condition, out of 10? 
7/10. My plan is to take it to an 8.5. 

The design feature you like most? 
The thing that stands out for me is that it was the first mid-engined production car in the world. The Gordini engine is superb and redlines at 7800rpm. It delivers a great power-to-weight ratio. 

Anything unusual about your car’s history? 
It was first registered in Germany before heading to South Africa where it spent the best part of 40 years. An uncle located the car from me. I feel as though we rescued it because it was clearly destined for the race track. 

How often do you use it? 
An awful lot, really, but mainly shortish trips. At least once a week. 

Have you made many improvements to it? 
Plenty, to return the car to its original condition. For instance, I took the chassis apart bolt by bolt down to the point where I had it sent in for blasting and three-pack painting. The coating is used for America’s Cup boats, so this chassis will last forever now. The engine has been completely overhauled, the gearbox reconditioned, new steering and suspension part fitted, and it’s been converted back to LHD to restore originality. The perfect symmetry of the car made the conversion straightforward. 

Has the car exceeded your expectations? 
Yes, and I’ve really come to appreciate the sophisticated design in the context of its day. It was generally well ahead of its time for performance. 

Do you have long-term intentions with your car? 
My intention is to continue enjoying it and I’ll always associate the car with the six years I spent restoring the car with my father. I’m also of the mind that you can either have your money sitting in the bank or in the garage, and this is an appreciating asset. 

Do you currently own any other special-interest vehicles? 
2009 Mercedes C63 AMG. When the Matra’s finished, I would consider looking for something else but I would be very cautious about undertaking another full-blown restoration! 

What was the first French car you drove, and where did you drive it? 
A 1963 Renault Caravelle that my father bought for me in South Africa and was driven sideways as often as straight. Mum had a Renault 5, dad a Renault 9 and a Gordini was always kicking about.

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1967 MATRA JET 6

YEARS PRODUCED 1967-68

TOTAL VOLUME 222 units

FIRST REGISTERED Germany

ENGINE 1255cc 4-cyl inline

POWER 100kW (134bhp) estimated

TRANSMISSION 4-spd manual

DRIVETRAIN rear-wheel drive

WEIGHT less than 750kg

LENGTH 4.22m

WHEELS 15-inch steel

COLOUR Silver, blue stripes

UPHOLSTERY Black vinyl

OWNER Jacques, Auckland

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