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  Article Image gallery (31) Chassis (4) Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1965
Numbers built:12 (F3 & F2)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 22, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionTowards the end of 1964, aeronautical engineering sub-contractor Matra acquired a controlling stake in René Bonnet's ailing car company. Matra founder Marcel Chassagny had been a longtime friend of Bonnet's and already had a considerable sum of money invested in the manufacturer before it threatened to go bankrupt in 1964. With a newly launched production road car and a Formula 3 racer under development, Chassagny believed there was life in the company left.

To build, develop and race the F3 car, Chassagny established Matra Sports, which was run by the ambitious young executive Jean-Luc Lagardère. Bonnet's design featured a sophisticated monocoque chassis, which was a new development in car racing but was already common place in the aeronautical world. Accordingly, Matra's engineers perfected the design and made it so the pontoons could hold fuel without the need for separate bags. This in turn allowed for the use of more substantial bulkheads, which increased the rigidity of the chassis.

The rest of what would become the Matra MS1 followed conventional lines with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear-end. In F3 guise, the car was powered by a production-based, one-litre Ford engine. Equipped with a pair of Webers, the four-cylinder unit produced around 100 bhp. What made the car such an interesting prospect for Matra was that the F2 regulations were virtually identical. The only major difference was the rules permitting prototype engines in F2 but with the same displacement limit of 1,000 cc.

Finished in striking French racing blue, the first Matra single seaters were campaigned in the F3 class during the 1965 season. Driven by Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, they were instantly successful. Beltoise won the important F3 race at Reims and he would go on to win the French Championship. For the 1966 season, the design was refined and put into production as the Matra MS5, which was also made available to customers. Among them was Ken Tyrrell, who fielded a F2 specification car for a young Jackie Stewart, which was the start of a very successful partnership between Tyrrell and Matra.

Matra built around a dozen MS5s, which were at times referred to as MS6s when fielded in F2 specification. The 1966 season proved particularly successful with Beltoise scoring nine F3 wins, including at Monaco. Brabhams, powered by Honda engines, dominated the F2 category but Matras impressed at the German Grand Prix where F2 cars were included to make up the numbers. The MS5/6s that finished placed 8th through 10th, beating all other F2 cars entered. The sturdy design of the monocoque allowed the cars to serve into the 1967 season, when larger engines were allowed.

As Matra's first single seater racers, the MS1 through to MS6 laid the foundation for the French company's international success, first in F2 with the MS7 and then F1 with the MS10 and MS80, all with Jackie Stewart behind the wheel and Ken Tyrrell as team manager.

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  Article Image gallery (31) Chassis (4) Specifications