The Matra/Bonnet Djet

This beautiful little glassfibre-bodied car was one of the first mass-produced roadgoing midengined sportscars, even though most press will tell you that this honour should belong to the much later Lamborghini Miura, but that is simply wrong - even Porsche had the 550 spider but this was far from being a mass produced car.

The Djet was the product of Rene Bonnet, who until the beginning of the 60'ies had been joined up with Charles Deutsch in the Panhard company. (The "B" in "DB" cars stands for Bonnet)

Matra, who at that time had started a profitable business in plastics and glassfibres, delivered the glassfibre-body to Bonnet, who however was far more interested in building cars than working on marketing strategies and doing business. This unfortunately left his company largely in the red figures early on in the sixties - at which time he owed a good deal of money to his subcontractor Matra.

Matra reacted wisely by taking over the company rather that pulling the poor genious to court - and hereby Matra dsaved one of France's perls - the newly developed Djet.
The car was named after the newly invented jet engine, which in those days signified everything "high tech". However, the word "jet" would be pronounced by Frenchmen with a soft 'd', and consequently Rene Bonnet placed an apostrophed "d" in front, to make sure it was pronounced as correct as possible.
When Matra took over in 1963, only 198 Djets had been built. Matra embarked on a project to make the Djet better suitable for larger scale production. This had mainly to do with small details, - tailights, bumpers etc. The groundbreaking underpinnigns were however identical:

That this car was designed in 1962 is actually quite amazing.

The Djet was initially powered by a standard Renault engine, but soon thereafter this was replaced with a Gordini-tuned 1108 ccm Renault unit. The humble power of these small engines nevertheless gave the small and very aerodynamic (Cv ~ 0.25) car a top speed of 165 km/h. Djet II with its slightly higher tuned engine did 190 km/h, and the specially aerodynamic version "aerojet" achieved 225km/t (!) on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans wit a race-trimmed version of that same engine.

The car was produced until 1968 (called "Djet 5" "Djet 5S" and eventually Matra "Jet6" ) , where Matra replaced it with the M530.

A total number of about 1500 cars were built - making it a very rare (but pleasant) sight.

Djet facts sheet

Matra/Bonnet Djet image gallery of (near) originals

Matra/Bonnet Djet image gallery of specials and conversions