In 1965 Matra's CEO Jean-Luc Lagardère decided to develop a successor to the Matra Djet that was more appealing to the non-racing public - a voiture des copains (car for chums). The result was the Matra M530, the first "true" Matra sports car, the Djet having been a René Bonnet design. The car was named after Matra's R.530 missile, and was designed by former Simca designer Philippe Guédon.
Like its predecessor, the M530 was built on a steel frame with polyester body and a mid-engine layout. To accommodate 2+2 seating, a mid-mounted engine and a reasonable boot, various engine options were considered. In the end, the running gear came from Ford in Germany: the "high compression" 1699 cc Ford Taunus V4 engine and gearbox from the Taunus 15M TS were chosen. This combination was compact enough to fit between the rear seats and the boot.
The first 530 (badged Matra Sports M530A) was shown to the public on March 7, 1967 at the Geneva Motor Show. It had a 70 DIN hp Ford 1699 cc V4 engine, which gave the car a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph). It entered production a month later, incorporating modifications that included the addition of a chrome bumper bar to provide much-needed protection from parking shunts for the front grill, a modest reshaping of the dashboard to give the passenger a little more knee room, and the repositioning of the ignition key to facilitate access. In its first two production years, the chassis was built by Carrier in Alençon and assembly was undertaken by French coachbuilder Brissonneau et Lotz at Creil. The engine bay of the early model 530 was accessible by removing the acrylic glass rear window.
French artist Sonia Delaunay painted a 530A at the special request of Matra's CEO Jean-Luc Lagardère in 1968. That same year Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale presented a custom bodied 530 coupé at the Geneva show. The car appeared again in Turin with some modifications and a new paint scheme.
1969 brought many changes to the 530. Firstly, the running gear followed the same evolution as the Ford model it was taken from and power increased to 75 DIN hp by using a different carburetor. Secondly, Matra closed a deal with Chrysler Europe, to sell their cars through the Simca dealer network from 1970 onwards and jointly develop the M530's successor. Finally, the cars were now constructed completely at the Matra Automobiles factory in Romorantin.
The British magazine "Autocar" tested a Matra M530A in March 1969. The car had a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h) and accelerated from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 15.6 seconds. An "overall" fuel consumption of 26.9 miles per imperial gallon (10.5 L/100 km; 22.4 mpg‑US) was recorded. This put it significantly behind the similarly priced Lotus Elan +2 on performance, but the two cars were closely matched on fuel economy. The Ford-powered Matra's £2,160 manufacturer's recommended price was a little lower than the £2,244 price on the Lotus, but both were massively undercut by the £1,217 then being asked for the MG MGB GT which, although based on an older simpler design, sold in greater numbers. Also included in the price comparison was the Porsche 912 then being offered in the UK with a manufacturer's recommended retail price of £2,894. The testers commended the Matra's refinement, handling and steering, soundness of construction and finish, while noting that its performance was 'not outstanding'.
Introduced at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show was the Matra Simca M530LX, which was a minor redesign of the 530A by Michelotti. The most notable changes were the rear hatch (now made of glass and held open with struts like a hatchback) and the front bumper.
A budget version of the 530, the Matra Simca 530SX, was introduced in October 1971. The SX lacks the targa top roof, and instead of pop-up headlights there were four fixed headlights mounted on top of the front. The only available colours were yellow and white, and the SX featured black bumpers instead of the LX's chrome bumpers.
Production of the M530 ceased in 1973 after a total of 9,609 cars (2,062 530A, 4,731 530LX and 1,146 530SX) were built.
No right-hand drive M530s were built.
|Model||M530||M530A||M530 LX||M530 SX|
|Years of production||March 1967 to April 1969||April 1969 to March 1970||March 1970 to February 1973||September 1971 to February 1973|
|Engine||Ford Taunus V4 Type P5S||Ford Taunus V4 Type C3|
|Position and orientation||Rear-mid engine, longitudinal|
|Number and arrangement of cylinders||4 cylinders in 60° "V"|
|Bore x Stroke||90 mm × 66.8 mm (3.5 in × 2.6 in)|
|Displacement||1,699 cc (103.7 cu in)|
|Carburation||One single-barrel Solex 32 PDSIT4 carburetor||One two-barrel Solex 32 TDID carburetor|
|Valvetrain||Single cam-in-block with pushrod actuated overhead valves. 2 valves per cylinder.|
|Maximum horsepower||54.4 kW (73 hp) @ 4800 rpm||58.2 kW (78 hp) @ 5000 rpm|
|Maximum torque||132 N⋅m (97.4 lb⋅ft) @ 2800 rpm|
|Chassis||Platform chassis in sheet steel with perforations for lightness. Bodywork in fibreglass attached to chassis.|
|Front suspension||Independent with upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, telescopic hydraulic shock-absorbers and an anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension||Independent with trailing arms, coil springs, telescopic hydraulic shock-absorbers and an anti-roll bar|
|Braking||Dual hydraulic circuit. Disk brakes on all four wheels|
|Weight||860 kg (1,896.0 lb)|
|Fuel capacity||45 l (11.9 US gal)|
|Maximum speed||170 km/h (105.6 mph)|
|Average fuel consumption||11.1 litres/100 km|
- "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1968 (salon [Paris Oct] 1967). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 29: 42–43. 2004.
- MATRA 530 (1967-1973)
- L'Incroyable Collection; Matra 530 Sonia Delaunay
- "Vignale Matra M530 Sport 1968". www.coachbuild.com.
- "Autotest - Matra M530A". Autocar. Vol. 130 (nbr 3813). 13 March 1969. pp. 6–11.
- "Matra 530 History & Specs". www.matra-club.com. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
- Simca & Matra Sports Club
- The Matra M530