Not ordinary. Djet 5: Matra’s first car
René Bonnet is the B of the DB (Deutsch-Bonnet) brand. He separated from his sidekick and created, in 1962, the Société des automobiles René Bonnet to design and sell the cars he loved: sports cars for this former driver of great level and excellent mechanic.
In the same year, he launched a Le Mans convertible and a relatively small coupe: the Djet, a prototype road version of the berlinetta for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1,000 km of the Nürburgring. This coupé was designed by engineer Marcel Hubert around an engine-gearbox unit placed in the rear central position.
An expensive Djet coupé to build
The berlinetta loses its tubular trellis reserved for the competition in favor of a chassis-beam that is easier to build. The coupé measures 3.80 m on a wheelbase of 2.40 m.
The first engine was a Renault Gordini 4 cyl 1108 cm³ of 70 hp (the competition version had 996 cm³ of 90 hp). The bodywork, a polyester monocoque, was made in Romorantin at the Matra factory. The mid-engine enters the cabin and almost touches the back of both seats.
This sleek, wedge-shaped coupe was the world’s first mid-engine production car to hit the market, long before the Lamborghini Miura or Lotus Elise.
A Jet patrol
Designed for sport, the Djet I coupe is not made for comfort lovers: despite careful insulation, the engine emits a lot of calories in the passenger compartment and is completely indiscriminate.
Version II of the Djet received a choice of a 1,108 cc 80 hp engine with a hemispherical cylinder head or a 996 cc 82 hp 2-ACT engine on the chassis-beam. The Djet III receives the mechanics of the Djet II but in a multi-tubular chassis while the Djet IV is equipped with a multi-tubular chassis and the 996 cm³ with a double shaft.
Marketing was poor and only 198 copies were sold. René Bonnet’s car company sank into the red.
1964, the arrival of the coachbuilder
Bankrupt due to poor sales of the coupe, the company was bought in 1964 by Matra Sports, which produced the bodywork. Matra continues to design and market versions 5 and 6 under the name Matra-Bonnet.
The body has been modified with a rectangular and enlarged front air intake. The luggage compartment is larger thanks to the extension of the rear overhang by 40 cm. The rear wheel arches are enlarged and the rear hatch opens from the rear to the front.
The Djet V is powered by a Renault block with two power ratings available: 1,108 cc of 70 hp for the Djet V, and 1,108 cc of 94 hp with a hemispherical cylinder head from the R 8 Gordini for the Djet V Sport .
In 1966, the Matra-Bonnet Djet VI received a 1.3 l block from the R8 Gordini of 2e generation and focused directly on Alpine.
1966, Bonnet disappeared
In July 1966, the Matra-Bonnet Djet V and Djet VS were renamed “Matra-Sports Jet 5” and “Matra Sports Jet 6” by abandoning the Bonnet and D names of Djet following the liquidation of the company Automobile Bonnet . The “Matra Sports” logo is attached to the bonnet and the rear face.
The Jet 6 with its 1,255 cc block has 105 hp and reaches 210 km/h. Unlike the Renault, the gearbox retains 4 gears. A Luxury version is distinguished by its front bumper, its dashboard and its steering wheel with wooden rims.
At the 1967 show, the presentation of the Matra 530 would herald the end of the Jet which would run out of 271 copies.
A careful finish
In 1967, the Jet range evolved cautiously with the disappearance of the Jet 5 S. In the competition, the car did not really shine. However, it should be noted the very good results of November 1967 during the 12e Critérium des Cévennes (664 km): Henri Pescarolo leads a Jet with a 1.3 l engine on the second step of the podium, less than 7 seconds behind… an Alpine driven by Gérard Larrousse.
In 1968, before the final closure, only 17 coupes were sold for a total production of 1,491 copies since 1964.