|Also called||Matra-Simca Rancho (1977-1979)|
Talbot Matra Rancho (1980-1984)
Matra-Simca and Talbot-Matra Ranch for italian market
|Class||Leisure activity vehicle|
|Body style(s)||3-door estate|
|Engine(s)||1.4 L Type 315 ohv I4|
The Matra Rancho is a leisure activity vehicle created by the French engineering group Matra in cooperation with the automaker Simca to capitalize on the off-road trend started by the Range Rover, but provide the "off-road look" at a lower price. The Rancho was presented in 1977 and became a popular model, but this did not alleviate more general problems Chrysler (Simca's parent company) was having at that time. Chrysler finally sold its European arm to PSA in 1978, which decided to rebrand all former Chrysler models to Talbots starting 1979. Thus, the former "Matra-Simca Rancho" became the "Talbot Matra Rancho". Production of the Rancho continued until 1984 (although it remained on sale up to January 1985) and totalled 57,792 cars.
Designed by Antonis Volanis, the Rancho was based on the pick-up version of Simca's popular supermini, the Simca 1100, using its front body part and stretched chassis. The rest of the body was made by Matra from fibreglass and polyester, including the mouldings adorning the body, which made it look more "sturdy". The ground clearance was also increased. Unlike most off-roaders, however, it was not fitted with all-wheel drive, retaining the 1100s front-wheel drive layout. Other elements retained from the 1100 included the dashboard and front seats (identical with the ones found in the Simca 1100 GLS). The Rancho was powered by the 1442 cc, 80 bhp version of the Simca Type 315 straight-4 engine.
During its market career, the Rancho was offered in several versions. Apart from the basic Rancho, there was the Grand Raid, fitted with such "off-road" extras as an electric winch on the front bumper and the spare wheel mounted on the roof. The Rancho X was the upscale model, with such standard extras as alloy wheels or metallic paint. The Découvrable, whose rear cabin consisted of an open frame with roll-down fabric covers, could serve as an "open" car during good weather. Finally, the Rancho AS was the commercial version, with no rear seats (and therefore exempt from the French tax on passenger cars).
The vehicle that Matra proposed to PSA as a replacement for the Rancho (which had been available with two extra, rear-facing seats) was a "monospace" (single box shape) concept, with flexible seating, which was ultimately rejected by Talbot's parent company. However, Matra managed to sell it to Renault — it became the Renault Espace, the first clearly-defined MPV.