|Also called||Matra-Simca Bagheera|
|Body style(s)||3-door hatchback|
|Engine(s)||1.3 L Type 315 ohv I4|
1.5 L Type 315 ohv I4
|Related||Simca 1100 Ti|
The Matra Bagheera is a sports car created by the French engineering group Matra in cooperation with the automaker Simca and design by Greek designer Antonis Volanis. It was actually even marketed as Matra-Simca Bagheera to highlight the link. Named after the panther from The Jungle Book, the Bagheera was created using stock Simca components, including the engines, gearbox and suspension elements, but unlike the Simca cars it shared them with, it was a mid-engined car (the Simcas in question, Simca 1100 and Simca 1307, were front-wheel drive).
The Bagheera's body was made of polyester, mounted on a steel structure. It was formed in the shape of a sleek hatchback, with a rear hatch that allowed access to the engine mounted behind the passenger compartment. There was only one row of seats, but it featured an unusual combination of three abreast. The Bagheera remains one of the few three-passenger sports cars.
When launched in 1973, the Bagheera was only available with the 1.3 L straight-4 engine, belonging to Simca's Type 315 engine family. In 1975, the range was complemented by a 1.5 L version of the same engine. In 1976, the Bagheera underwent a major restyling, with basically only the rear hatch unchanged. Another change took place in 1978, when the dashboard was replaced again, and in 1979 the Bagheera was given conventional door handles in lieu of the previous "hidden" ones. Production of the Bagheera ended in 1980, when it was replaced by Matra Murena, with 47,802 Bagheeras built in total.
The Bagheera is also notable as one of the few manufacturers in the world to have developed a "U engine" for this vehicle. As Matra engineers believed the Bagheera could use a more powerful unit, they created a unique construction out of two 1.3 L Simca straight-4 engines, joined side-by-side by a common pan unit, the two crankshafts being linked by chain. This resulted in a 2.6 L 8-cylinder unit, producing 168 bhp. However, Chrysler Europe (the parent company of Simca) was unwilling to pursue the project due to the developing fuel crises as well as its own financial problems. Thus, the U8-powered Bagheera remained as a prototype and only three units were ever built.
- "Matra-Simca Bagheera". Simca Talbot Information Centre – Simca Club UK. http://www.simcatalbotclub.org/bagheera.htm. Retrieved on 2006-08-19.
- "The Matra Bagheera U8 Project". Rootes-Chrysler.co.uk – Rootes Group, Chrysler Europe, SIMCA, and Talbot cars. http://www.rootes-chrysler.co.uk/car-development/dev-u8.html. Retrieved on 2006-08-20.