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Lot 379: Matra Djet V

Collectors' Motor Cars, Motorcycles,, Bonhams (23 October 2011)

French aerospace company Matra (Mechanique Aviation TRAction) diversified into automobile manufacture in 1965 when it took over René Bonnet and continued producing the latter's Djet sports car. In partnership with Charles Deutsch, René Bonnet had first tried his hand at motor manufacturing in 1939 with a Citroën-based special, though further serious progress was curtailed until 1945. The duo formed Automobiles DB in 1949, turning to Panhard for engines and suspension components that would form the basis of a highly successful series of Le Mans class-winning sports prototypes from the mid-1950s onwards. In 1961 the partnership split, Deutsch continuing with Panhard-based cars while Bonnet turned to Renault. One of Bonnet's first offerings was the stylish Djet, one of the first ever mid-engined road cars, though most examples ended up on the racetrack. A French motoring milestone, the Djet was powered by an 1,100cc Renault engine producing 70bhp in standard trim or 95bhp with Gordini tune, while beneath the typically slippery glassfibre coachwork there was a tubular spaceframe chassis, all round independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. Featured in an article published in the May 1966 issue of Sports Car World by journalist Rob Luck, who came away suitably impressed. This particular Djet was originally bought by the son of celebrated French downhill skier Jean Luis Allard and first registered in Bescanon on the 7th of April 1966. Allard ran in the 1966 Criterion des Cervennes Rally as a privateer alongside the factory entries. Later in 1966 the Matra passed to Frank Palmos. Palmos was a noted foreign correspondent, posted variously to Indonesia, Vietnam (he was the only surviving journalist to survive a Viet Cong massacre durin the Tet Offensive) and the USA and was the inspiration for Mel Gibson's character in "The Year of Living Dangerously" motion picture. During his thirty year tenure the Matra was stored in Southampton in the UK then in Australia from 1976 to 1992 and was sold to Peter Carmichael of Melbourne in 1996 with 32,000 kms on the clock. Now showing just 37,000 kms, the car has survived in very original, unmodified condition but has undergone considerable mechanical refurbishment in recent years, with a new clutch, new wheel bearings, radiator, exhaust and brakes. The original 1108cc Gordini engine was removed for safekeeping (it comes with the car) and a 1.4-litre Renault Virage unit fitted with a sports camshaft, twin-choke 40mm side draught Dellorto carburettor and Lynx manifold. The body was stripped and repainted in French Blue with new rubbers and sealed and a factory supplied windscreen while the interior was re-upholstered in the early 1980s but keeping the original special order leather seats, along with the leather-bound Berrard sports wheel and racing harnesses. One of three Djets to come into Australia, this example is believe to be the only one left and comes with a host of documentation, including the original delivery books, handbooks (one French, one English), original sales brochure, workshop (in German) and history of the various owners.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars, Motorcycles,
Bonhams, Melbourne, Royal Exhibition Building
TypeCar
Lot Number379
Estimate$40000-$50000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1966
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number10399
Engine number060000355
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2