The sensational Matra MS670 that won the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hour race has been controversially sold for a staggering €5,000,000 in Paris on 5 February 2021.
The amazing French automotive icon cemented its place in international motor racing history and is owned by the Lagardère Group who preserved the classic racing machine at the Musée Matra in Romorantin since its last race in 1973, but has now sold the Le Mans-winning classic as part of a court order.
The racing classic was retired to the Matra museum in Romorantin in 1976 where it was exhibited to the public. It then followed the relocation of the museum in 2002 with restoration beginning two years later.
The demise of Matra Automobiles in 2003 meant the restoration program being terminated and the car returning to the museum where it was exhibited partially finished.
In 2008, it was decided the restoration would resume allowing the historic Matra to perform demonstrations at events dedicated to vintage cars. Work is finally completed in 2010 with the car taking to the track for the first time in 30 years and participated in the anniversary of Matra’s 40th birthday, at Le Mans, and in 2015 at the Classic Days, at Magny-Cours, where she completed several laps between the hands of Henri Pescarolo.
Following an eight-year legal battle, on 31 January 2020, Matra was ordered to cough up €4.2m in a compensation deal to its employees after the forced closure of its Romorantin plant in 2003 – hence the sale is required to fulfil this financial obligation.
1972 Le Mans 24 Hour Matra MS670
Dressed and presented in its 1973 Le Mans 24 Hours configuration, chassis 001 is ‘the‘ car that won the legendary and most famous 1972 Le Mans 24 Hour displaying the No.15. The two distinguished drivers on that particular day were Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo, who crossed the finish line to rapturous applause and jubilant crowd.
Our wonderful memories of MATRA’s part in motor racing history are no compensation for the Lagardère Group’s obligation to honour the consequences of an unfavourable court ruling in January 2020 in a social law case involving MATRA AUTOMOBILE, 18 years after it closed. Hence the decision to offer at auction, in total transparency, the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hour-winning MATRA.
The Matra legend
A confident Jean-Luc Lagardère stated that within 10 years, the Matra would win the Formula 1 World Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours, the two most prestigious titles in motor racing. Not only would his prediction prove to be correct, but he went further by also winning the Constructors’ World Championship.
Recognised as a brilliant leader, Jean-Luc Lagardère knew how to galvanise his team and surrounded himself with a group of drivers who were adored by the public. With Beltoise, Jaussaud, Pescarolo, Larrousse, Servoz-Gavin and Cevert, French colours were once again flying high at the highest level of motorsport.
This Matra MS670 represents the Holy Grail for all collectors of competition cars. It has the ultimate race history with a victory in the most famous race in the world, the best provenance, having never left the hands of its creators, the Lagardère Group, superb styling and one of the best engines ever built: the Matra V12.
It didn’t take long for people to start talking about Matra single-seaters. The constructor’s rise through the ranks was relentless and the first victory in Formula 3 was in July 1965, the first victory in Formula 1 in 1968 and the following year, the highest accolade: Jackie Stewart was crowned World Champion.
All that remained was Le Mans. During the second half of the 1960s, this event was dominated by Ford, Porsche and Ferrari. The Matra-BRMs made their appearance in 1966 and by 1972, the MS 670 had reached maturity. Superbly streamlined, it was powered by the celebrated and symphonic-sounding V12 Matra engine.
The Matra Foursome
The marque entered four cars, and the Matra piloted by Hill and Pescarolo, chassis 001, having lapped with the regularity of a metronome, crossed the finish line victorious, to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd. The excitement increased as the second place went to another Matra, driven by François Cevert and Howden Ganley.
This was the first 100% French victory since Louis Rosier had won in his Talbot in 1951. In addition, it was a fantastic achievement for Graham Hill who won the triple crown (Monaco, Indianapolis, Le Mans 24 Hours). He remains the only driver to this day to have done this.
The MS 670 was an outstanding car and Matra went on to win the famous 24-Hour race twice more, in 1973 and 1974, before Jean-Luc Lagardère decided to give up motor racing.
The Matra story « represents one of the most glorious chapters in the annals of French Motorsport.
Highly regarded as one of the most exceptional prototypes in the history of the world-famous Le Mans race, the Matra was sold at the Paris Sale.