French Fiberglass: 1966 Matra D’Jet V

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René Bonnet was one busy guy. Not only was he manufacturing automobiles, but he was also racing for Renault. It was his affiliation with Renault that caused Bonnet to leave his first automaking endeavor, a partnership with Charles Deutsche called Deutsche et Bonnet. Deutsche wanted to continue using Panhard motors in the company’s eponymous race cars, but Bonnet preferred a switch to the Renault powerplant. By 1962, Bonnet had an engine contract with Renault and financial backing from Matra, a French industrial conglomerate. These ingredients and a design from Jacques Hubert resulted in the D’Jet, widely considered to be the first production mid-engined car. Settled on Bonnet’s own chassis with an 1108 cc in-line four-cylinder Renault engine and a Renault four-speed transmission, the little car could muster a top speed of 100 mph. The D’Jet was developed over several years with minutely larger engines until Matra pulled the plug on the model in 1967. Here on eBay is a 1966 Matra D’Jet project car, with an asking price of $35,000, located in Dallas, Texas.

Matra took over Bonnet’s company in late 1964 as a result of debts that became unpayable in light of low sales. Subsequently, these cars became known as the Matra D’Jet. This example is the “Luxe” version, with a wood dash and steering wheel, and a sunroof. The seller indicates it is complete except for the bumperettes, which some owners remove anyway. Obviously, the buyer will be signing up for fiberglass work, and likely some parts acquisition headaches. Club support does exist, fortunately.

The interior is spartan, and the D’Jet has virtually no insulation – so be prepared for a noisy ride. This shot shows the rudimentary construction of the shift tunnel and dash. The odometer registers just shy of 45,000 km. Jaeger gauges were standard.

From the factory, D’Jets were equipped with disc brakes all around and fully independent suspension. But the car’s price was comparable to a new Facel Vega Facillia – a much more luxurious car. That, alongside poor fit and finish and a reluctant gearbox, discouraged buyers. Fewer than 1700 D’Jets of all types were sold, making this a rare car. But as we have noted, “rare” does not always translate to “desirable”. Prior sales of these cars generally sit under $40,000 but a few of these sales occurred several years ago. Hagerty claims a top-condition value of over $70k, but I can’t find a single car selling anywhere near that. No doubt, these are pretty cars when properly restored, but this car is a long way from the show ring.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Marco

    Since zee French like to think “outside the box”, I bet this Matra drives backwards.

    Like 3
    • Steve G

      It looks like the horn button is missing. Now it looks like a Pontiac emblem. 😄

      Like 1
      • Martin Horrocks

        Are you surr about the Renault affiliation, Mochelle? Deutsch and Bonnet made DB cars together in the 50s and I thought these were all Panhard based cars.

        Like 2
      • jack p

        you press the right stalk to blow the horn.

        Like 0
  2. Derek

    These featured in the “index of performance” (efficiency?) class at Le Mans, along with the recently-featured Lotus XI. Fast cars with totey engines.

    Like 1
  3. TomP

    Bonnet must have been friends with Gordini because Gordini was working with Renault at the same time.

    Like 1
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      He was, apparently. Sort of the ultimate D’Jet is the Gordini-powered version, called the D’Jet II….

      Like 1
  4. Ken

    The oddest feature of the Djet is the rear hatch.

    The designers quickly realized that if the sunroof panel is off, the wind rushing in would blow the rear window right off the car. Their solution: a set of pins to hold the rear hatch open a few inches to let the air escape!

    Only about a dozen cars were made with the sunroof, and it is believed that eight of them were shipped to the US. That makes this one very rare.

    Watch the video:

    Like 4
    • Howie

      I understand your point of rare, but is it $35k rare in this condition?

      Like 3
      • Howie

        And it looks like the seller is a car person, but no engine photos? If you want to see a very sad condition Pantera click on the sellers other items.

        Like 2
      • Ken

        Nope. I don’t think so. But the seller apparently does.

        I like it, but I don’t $35K like it. I wouldn’t pay $35K for one in tip top condition (well, unless I knew I could flip it for a fat profit). I just appreciate the quirks and oddities of these and thought I would share.

        Like 3
  5. OldCarGuy

    This could be paired with the “Bridal Bliss Rolls Royce Silver Shadow”. You would be the talk of Cars /n Coffee, or anywhere else,for that matter.. :>))

    Like 3
  6. Steve

    Plus: It’s an exotic French car.
    Minus: It’s an exotic French car.

    Like 4
  7. George Birth

    I don’t know where these guys get their asking price from, I guess they pick a high figure throw it at the wall and hope someone bites. Looking at the supplied photos on this one I don’t see $35K , more like $3500. Too little for too much!!!!

    Like 1
  8. Martin Horrocks

    Price is modest compared with an Alpine A110. Neither is going to be a bargain

    Like 3
  9. TheOldRanger

    The rear look reminds me of the Opel.

    Like 2
  10. Mark MitchellMember

    This has been listed on ebay for an extremely long time with no takers. The price obviously does not match the condition as it would have already found a new home. This one needs a full restoration that will leave the buyer “upside down” immediately-

    I may be the only one here that has owned and driven one of these interesting cars. Mine had the desirable Gordini engine (the one offered here will be quite disappointing to drive with the stock Renault engine). I also had 4 different Renault R8 Gordini’s over the years (sedans with the high performance Gordini twin carb motor), and an Alpine A110 Gordini (that I wish I had kept!).

    Like 2
  11. Snafuracer

    An acquaintance of mine has one of these with the dual Weber 1108 Gordini engine and it screams! Really a bare bones sporty car for a real driving enthusiast! Price is out of line for its condition for sure.

    Like 1
  12. Healeymonster

    The seller is waiting for a “young’in” with stupid money. The buyer of the incomplete Ford Cammer engine on a stand for $140k comes to mind..

    Like 0
  13. losgatos_dale

    Unfortunately priced.
    Were they influenced by a scam CL ad that was posted here on BF last year?
    It would be interesting to see how many of the Gordini-powered units survived le 24 heures . My guess is zero.

    Like 0
  14. Jacques Marteville

    Hello Michelle,
    The Rene Bonnet berlitette or, after Bonnet SOLD his company to “Engins MATRA” (there was but a brief partnership), was not called “D’jet” but “Djet” (no apostrophe). Its biggest problem was not its price but its lack of power from its anemic Renault R8 engine. A 4-speed transmission did not help much. Its true competition was the Alpine A110, also Renault powered but more powerful with an R16, all-aluminum engine and with a 5-speed close-ration transmission. On top of that, the rear-engine Alpine handled far better than the mid-engine Djet, all for the same price.
    Another problem is that the Alpine looks muscular and purposeful while the Bonnet, then MATRA Djet looked like a girl’s car, the kind of sporty women shopping at Chanel and Givenchy.
    By the way in case you run across one, the name is “Alpine-Renault” and never “Renault-Alpine”. The founder, Jean Redele, would scream at you from his grave!

    Like 1
    • Martin Horrocks

      I´m not sure your recall is excatly accurate, Jacques. This is a 1966 car, so the Alpine would have been a 1300 at that time, not always offered with the Gordini modifications or a 5 speed box. The 1600 Alpine came later and really the bigger engine´s best years in competition were late 60s until 1975.

      I agree that the Alpine is a better-looking car with more presence and history so is more desirable in general than the Djet, but the Djet is still a significant design..

      Having read a few of Michelle Rand´s pieces here on relatively exotic marques, I am sure she knows the difference between an Alpine Renault and a Renault Alpine when she sees one.

      Like 0
  15. Jacques Marteville

    Martin Horrocks, the Djet (now “Jet” since 1967 and with a slightly less anemic Renault 1300cc engine) was produced until early 1970. The Alpine 1600S was already in production since October 1969, but the Alpine-Renault 1300G and 1300S (the later with Renault “364” 5-speed gearbox), produced since 1966, would eat any Bonnet Djet or MATRA Jet alive in any contest, which they did. Hardly ever did a Djet or a Jet featured in a podium in rally or circuit, while the Alpines accumulated wins, championship and eventually a world title.
    The simple truth is that the Djet may have been the first “mid-engine” production GT (I think the ATS 2500 was, I have to verify), but it never amounted to much, and it is reflected in the real prices of nicely restored cars compared again to… Alpines.
    The seller in the case of the example at hand, is dreaming about his ambitions. In my opinion and considering the condition of the car, 15 grand is all the money in the world.

    Like 0
  16. Gary Teves

    I remember seeing a picture of Yuri Gagarin with one of these. I believe it was a gift from France. He would have fit well into one of these, being a shorter guy.

    Like 0

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