1966 Matra Djet 5
4-cyl. 1108cc/70hp 2bbl Zenith
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The Djet (or Jet) is the premier sports car made by the idiosyncratic Matra corporation. Primarily a racing marque focused on Formula Two and Three in this era and later on Formula One and Le Mans prototypes, the Matra Sports company was a division of French armaments manufacturer Mécanique Aviation Traction. Matra Sports had been founded as Deutsch-Bonnet, named after its founders, but was sold to Matra in 1964. Matra was later sold to Simca, which was part of Chrysler Europe, and ultimately ended up as part of Peugeot.
The Djet had started life under Deutsch-Bonnet in 1962. The tiny two-seat fastback sports coupe was known for its sleek and graceful appearance, and for being the world’s first mid-engine production car. The body was made of molded plastic, hung on a tubular backbone chassis similar to the Lotus Elan, which was its closest competitor. The Djet used a dual-wishbone suspension with coil springs at all four wheels, with disc brakes and rack and pinion steering as standard features. This was all fairly exotic stuff for 1962. Options available at times included a wood dashboard and larger bumpers.
The engine offered with the Djet was either an 1100cc Renault (Djet 5) or 1255cc Renault modified by Gordini (Djet 6). The 1100cc engine was far more common and offered 70 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque. The 1255cc engine was introduced in 1966 and featured dual Weber carburetors and offered 103 SAE horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque. In all years, power was delivered to the rear wheels through a Renault-sourced 4-speed manual transmission. No major changes were made to the Djet throughout its production run.
Just 1,495 Djets of all types were made my Matra, with a small but uncertain number made by Deutsch-Bonnet. Any of these cars will be collectible, but smart investors will look carefully at condition and completeness. Clearly, the 1255cc Djet 6 is more desirable, but not at the expense of poor condition. As with any orphan brand, parts availability and expertise can be a challenge, and the plastic body panels are prone to breaking and difficult to restore to original condition. A small but enthusiastic community of owners exists, however, so mutual support is available for these frankly gorgeous little sports cars. The most notable Djet was a 1965 model presented to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, and obviously that one would have substantial collectible value.