The massed ranks of visitors to the annual International Autojumble at Beaulieu Motor Museum includes folk from every possible different background, and this point is not lost on the exhibitors. Among the crowds there may well be somebody tentatively looking for their next project, so you’ll find motivated sellers of all kinds of decaying machinery vying to part the next willing optimist with their money. The way I see it, the world is made up of two groups. Those who want to own a Matra Simca Bagheera, and those who already have one. Step this way if you’re a member of Group A. If you’re a regular visitor to The Hooniverse, then GOTO LINE 09. The Matra Simca Bagheera was a French Fancy offered from 1973 through to 1980, and which found takers mainly within the boundaries of its home republic. As wedge-like as they come, the sleek profile of the Bagheera marks it out as a thoroughbred sports-tourer; which it isn’t. The mechanical recipe is close to that for the Simca 1300 and 1500 meaning only “sufficient” power and an unmistakeable tappety soundtrack. Still, its pop-up headlamps and three-abreast accomodation layout further add to the novelty, and the car remains intriguing to those who have never sampled the Bagheeras charms, plus if you drive one people might mistake you for a member of popular beat combo Daft Punk. This can only be a good thing. LINE 9) French Refugee Bagheeras are few and far between and are usually either beautifully preserved, beloved playthings, or desperate wrecks lying dormant and waiting for the love and attention that will inevitably never come. This one is perfectly horrible, but could be a heck of a lot worse. “Engine Starts!” the hand-scrawled “point of sale” material excitedly claims, and thats about as much information as is forthcoming. The car is parked with all doors closed and the pop-up lights firmly down, so there are no clues as to whether they work. The fabulous period graphics are still resplendent, which is good, and the glass and trim appear to be intact. That can only be good news as I imagine that this stuff must be as rare as rocking horse teeth. Could it be as simple as just needing a damn good polish and recomissioning or is there some other reason that the owner lost interest? I mean, the engine starts, after all… Uh oh, what’s this? There’s a leetle diddy rust hole here at the base of the A-Post… that could be all, but I confess to having misgivings about being too hopeful. What else lurks beyond that front fender panel? Could it be that the crisp polyester outer shell we see here is all that’s left and the interior we see within will fall on the ground as soon as somebody lighter than a ghost takes a seat behind the wheel? Feeling brave and adventurous? ‘Course you are. Just £1495 to you, Sir or Madame. (All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2014)
Weekend at Beaulieu – 4 Sale: Matra-Simca Bagheera
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.
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