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  Matra MS120C      

  Article Image gallery (21) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1972
Numbers built:3 (Updated MS120Bs)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 10, 2022
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFor corporate reasons, Matra was unable to carry on in 1970 with the successful package that had brought the 1969 Drivers' and Constructors' championships. Team manager Ken Tyrrell and lead driver Jackie Stewart were keen to keep running the dominant Cosworth DFV V8 but Matra's newly signed agreement with Simca precluded the French manufacturer to use a Ford-badged engine. Instated, Matra intended to run their proprietary V12, which prompted Tyrrell and Stewart to step away and run a DFV-engined March instead.

That did not stop Matra from developing a new car for the 1970 season, due to be powered by the latest V12 engine. Dubbed the MS120, it featured a relatively square aluminium monocoque chassis designed by Gérrard Ducarouge and Bernard Boyer. Used as a fully stressed member of the chassis, the MS12 engine was a sophisticated, four-valve engine that according to Matra produced 450 hp at around 11,000 rpm. It was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that was sourced from British specialists Hewland.

Driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise stayed with the team, while Stewart was replaced by another Frenchman, Henri Pescarolo. The MS120 debuted with a fourth-place finish for Beltoise in South Africa, followed by third place finishes for Pescarolo at Monaco and Beltoise at Spa. During the season, the Matra gradually lost ground against the rivals. Using the power of the V12 engine, Beltoise did manage to add one more podium finish to the MS120's tally at Monza. Early in 1971, newly signed driver Chris Amon managed to score a surprise win with the MS120 in the non-Championship Argentine Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, the development of the MS120 continued with a 'B' specification being readied for the 1971 World Championship. Three new chassis were built with subtle changes to the suspension geometry and aerodynamics. Matra also created an evolution of the V12 engine, known as the MS71. Pescarolo had been replaced by Amon, who scored the team's sole podium by finishing third in the Spanish Grand Prix. It was a rare highlight of a difficult season, which saw the team struggle for speed and reliability.

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  Article Image gallery (21) Chassis (2) Specifications