Le Mans-winning Matra heading to Retromobile auction

Artcurial Motorcars announces consignment on Le Mans race weekend

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The Matra MS 670 on its way to victory at Le Mans in 1972 | Matra Automobiles photo

Timing might not be everything, but it certainly appears to be working for Artcurial Motorcars. The French auction house used the postponed 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend to announce that the Matra MS 670 that won the iconic race in 1972 has been consigned to Artcurial’s Retromobile auction in Paris, scheduled for February 5, 2021.

“With engines warming up for the Le Mans 24 Hour race taking place this weekend, the Lagardère Group and Artcurial Motorcars are pleased to announce that one of the most exceptional prototypes in the history of the world-famous Le Mans race will be offered at auction early next year,” the auction house said. 

Drivers Graham Hill (left) and Henri Pescarolo celebrate their victory for Matra at Le Mans in 1972 | Paris March photo

Artcurial added that the Matra’s pre-sale estimated value is €4 million to €7.5 million ($4.74 million to $8.3 million).

The car, driven to victory at Le Mans in 1972 by Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo, is owned by the Lagardère Group and has been housed at the Musée Matra in Romorantin since its last race in 1973. 

The Lagardère Group (formerly Matra, Hachette & Lagardère) was involved in various industries, including publishing, and now focuses on magazine and book publishing, and it operates duty-free stores at airports.

It is selling the Le Mans-winning Matra as part of a court order.

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“Our wonderful memories of Matra’s part in motor racing history are no compensation for the Lagardère Group’s obligation to honor the consequences of an unfavorable court ruling in January 2020 in a social law case involving Matra Automobile, 18 years after it closed,” Thierry Funck-Brentano, co-managing partner of the Lagardère Group, is quoted in Artcurial’s announcement. “Hence the decision to offer at auction, in total transparency, the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hour-winning Matra.”

“This Matra MS670 represents the Holy Grail for all collectors of competition cars,” Artcurial added. “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.”

Ala Ford v Ferrari, Matra cars finish 1-2 in 1972 at Le Mans | Matra Automobiles photo

Matra is short for Mécanique Aviation Traction and was founded in post-war France. A pair of its engines powered the first aircraft to break the sound barrier over Europe and the company produced satellites for the European space program. 

Jean-Luc Lagardère became chief executive in 1963 and vowed that Matra would be world champion in motorsports, leading an effort that won at Le Mans three times and took the Formula 1 constructors title in 1969 with Jackie Stewart driving.

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For more information, visit the Artcurial Motorcars website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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