The Matra Simca Bagheera was a sports car created through a
collusion between the French engineering group Matra and car
manufacturer Simca. The Matra Simca Bagheera was manufactured
from 1973 to 1980, when it was replaced with the Matra Murena
- which used many components and the same layout as the Bagheera.
In total 47,802 Bagheeras were constructed.
The Bagheera name was borrowed from the panther in Rudyard Kipling's
story 'The Jungle Book'. One of the most unusual features of
the Matra Simca Bagheera is its interior layout - three seats
in a row. Behind the seats is the mid-mounted engine. Originally
the Matra Bagheera was offered with a 1.3 litre 4 cylinder,
later this was increased to a more powerful 1.5 litre unit.
The power was sent to the rear wheels via a 4 speed manual gearbox.
Throughout its 7 year life span the Bagheera underwent a few
updates. In 1976 the car underwent a major restyling, with only
the rear carried over. Further changes took place in 1978, when
the dashboard was replaced, and in 1979 the car was given conventional
door handles which replaced the previous hidden ones.
The Matra Simca Bagheera was also one of the very few vehicles
ever created to be fitted with a 'U engine'. Matra engineers
believed the car could use a more powerful engine, so they developed
a unique powerplant 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
engine, 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.
Therefore the U8-powered Bagheera project was shelved and only
three units were ever built.
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