Matra P72 - so close to being the production-name m72

Matra continued its quest for producing cars in un-exploited niche's - and in 2000 they came up with this radically styled buggy. The idea was to create a car under 350kh with less than 20HP, as this is the requirement in the French law for 16-year olds to be allowed to drive it. I couldn't agree more on this concept - I would much prefer having my kids driving around in something with a body and ABS, than on a scooter/moped which all too often gets crushed in trafic. Just having a small accident on a moped would be much worse than in any car.

The m72 was a radical and hugely political correct vehicle, in a very flexible and fun package.

This openwheeled was designed in a very modular fasion, - with lots of "optional" items, which can be fitted to the car when needed, thereby letting the m72 adapt to different drivers, passengers and seasons. Some of the more curious options were:

Without any options installed, the car was more like a buggy, - but with all options, it transmogriffed into a cute car, that somehow reminds me of the old Ford that Donald Ducks grandmother drives :-) (must be the duck-tail boot)

The midmounted engine was a 750cc of motorcycle origin, and frankly getting only 20HP from such an engine must leave the game open for a lot of interesting tuning :-). Initially Matra even announced that the car would possibly only be sold over the Internet (now thats a novelty, yet another Matra trailblazing idea). Later announcements indicated that it would also be sold in places normally engaged in watersports, motorcycles and other recreational markets.

Matra also planned versions for 'grown-ups' as well - with about 50 HP from that same 750cc engine, which will make that 400kg buggy quite fast. With 350-400kg to the 50 HP, it would have more power/kg than the Murena 2.2 (!) - this could have become the reinvented M25. The small version was furthermore claimed to run 25-30km/l which seems to be the game of the day, and which also could qualify it for a tax-discount in Denmark (and possibly other countries?)

The M72 was planned to hit the market from mid 2003 in France ,- prices were expected to start around 8000 EUR for the small version, and up to about 8500EUR for the larger model. (including French taxes). For export, the net-price would have been around 6800 EUR. This would have made it very interesting indeed. I, for one, would certainly have loved to get one for my commuting - saving my Murena for more recreational driving.

However, unless the M72 project is bought by some company, I fear it will never materialize - which is a shame, as it came so close, when Groupe Legardere chose to shut down Matra Automobile in February 2003.

My M72 image gallery

Matra's own website about the M72 (in english)
Matra's own website about the M72 (in French)