René Bonnet Djet History & Specs
The Djet was designed by Jacques Hubert for René Bonnet in 1961 and was a small coupé with a steel backbone chassis and glass fibre bodywork. The body consisted of a number of individual panels, rather than a single moulding and had the advantage of much easier repair. The drag coefficient of 0.27, low even by today's standards, gave the car the potential for high top speeds from a relatively small engine.The power unit was the 1108 cc Renault 8 unit, but turned through 180 degrees to give a mid-engined configuration. The car had independent suspension all round with coil springs and wishbones.
Matra had produced the the bodies for Bonnet from the outset and provided the factory space for their assembly. Over just two years of production René Bonnet produced four different models of the Djet.
René Bonnet Djet I (1108cc Renault engine)
René Bonnet Djet II (Gordini spec engine)
René Bonnet Djet III and IV (designed with tubular aero frames for competition use)
However, in 1964 René Bonnet Automobiles experienced financial difficulties and owed a significant amount of money including a large amount to Matra. Matra seeing this as a good opportunity to expand business in the automobile market took over René Bonnet's debts and the full production of the Djet. Bonnet had produced about 200 Djets
In 1965, Philippe Guédon was recruited from Simca to perfect the development of the Djet with the objective of making it more suited to mass production and he made 90 modifications to the car.
After the 1965 Paris Salon, two face-lift models were produced, the Matra Bonnet Djet V and the VS. The former had the 68 bhp (SAE) Renault engine and the VS the 94 bhp (SAE) unit designed by Amedée Gordini. This unit gave the car a top speed of 188 km/h. Matra subsequently dropped the Roman numerals and the Bonnet name and the car became the Matra Sports Djet 5 and a "Luxe" version with a bigger bumper and a T-shaped wooden dashboard was made available.
At the 1966 Paris Salon, Renault announced their 1255 cc, 105 bhp (SAE) engine and this became available for the Djet, which was designated the Matra Jet 6 and replaced the 5S. The new car had a top speed of 200 km/h.
The Djet was entered in a number of competitions but with limited success as it was heavier than its rivals and also suffered some reliability problems. The narrow track also limited its handling abilities, although later prototypes had a wider rear track. It did have some success, however, in the Chamrousse and the Coupe de Paris where the two cars of Beltoise and Pescarolo won their respective classes.
The Djet gave Matra much useful experience, particularly in the use of glass fibre panels and steel chassis, but they wanted to produce a more refined sports car with a wider public appeal. A new production facility was opened in Romorantin to build the new car, the M530, but the Djet continued to be built alongside it until 1968 when production ceased with 1493 5, 5S and 6 models having been built.
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