Home » The Boys (And A Girl) Are Back In Town: Cold Start

The Boys (And A Girl) Are Back In Town: Cold Start

Topshot 139

Boy, there’s a lot to unpack in this shot. Where do I even start?

First of all, we have a strange looking SUV sort of thing with a front end that looks very familiar to fans of old European cars, surrounded by hunters that appear to have gotten this machine trapped in a ditch after going mere feet from the road itself. Even more odd is that the truck is headed towards this road, not away from it, so it managed to get somewhere overlanding before the last few yards of making it back.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Who are these hunters? One of them looks remarkably like the late Philip Lynot, lead singer and guitarist for the Irish band Thin Lizzy:

Matra Simca Rancho Petrolblog (1)
Chrysler/Talbot, Wikipedia/Helge Øverås

Obviously, I can’t identify the people, but I can certainly tell you that they’re driving a Matra Simca Rancho, and I can offer some reasoning as to why it might be stuck. It sure looks tough in the picture below, right? Looks can be deceiving. This thing could lay claim to being one of the first image-over-capabilities SUVs; it wasn’t even available with four-wheel-drive. If it looks at first like a Simca 1100 driving out of a greenhouse, that’s because it kind of is. The whole front section of this concoction is that old French compact, attached to the spacious, glass covered boxy rear cabin.

Screenshot (1412)
Simca 1100 Luxe Super (139363962

Matra was way ahead of their time in understanding that most people that were getting into things like Jeeps and Range Rovers would never go off road beyond putting a wheel onto the median now and then. It’s the look that matters, and things like hood mounted spotlights (that could only turn on with the car off), a mock push bar and rugged roof rack over the original Simca passenger compartment made this thing look like it was ready to drive the Darian Gap when in fact it was only capable of driving to The Gap, but if the snow wasn’t more than a few inches deep.

1977 Simca Matra Rancho
Wikipedia/Garage De L’Est

The Rancho did offer a lot of versatility in terms of cargo and passenger carrying, just like crossovers of today. You can see some of the different possibilities here:

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Matra Simca Rancho 2

Here’s a final riddle for you. The Rancho has seats for six people, has only four headrests, but it still has head restraints for every occupant. Uh, what? Take a look below.

Matra Rancho Double Seats

The rear facing third row shares the headrests with second row passengers. That’s brilliant! Now, with only 80 horsepower on tap, trying to move those six people at any rate of speed will be impossible. Plus, you’ll almost certainly get stuck like our crew above. Thankfully, with the optional tailgate ladder, Phil could have climbed onto the roof with his guitar and played “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “Jailbreak” until help arrived.

Who says you need all wheel drive to have a good time?

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Carlos Gomez
Carlos Gomez
4 months ago

They look ready for a coup d’estate

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
4 months ago

At that time Matra was part the car industry, and was using chassis from various French manufacturers to design cars. ( but especially Renault ones because government owned companies )

The Rancho was 30 years ahead of it’s time… But they did manage to get some cars out at the right time like the Renault Espace when the market was ready for Monospaces.

Note that at that time Matra was a conglomerate that could have put a Japanese Zaibatsu ( or it’s Korean counterpart ) to shame, as they were in Military stuff ( missiles among other things ), cars, Telecom ( Matracom, Matra Nortel Cellular, Matra Ericsson Telecom ), press & edition ( the Matra Hachette entity ) and more.

George Millwood
George Millwood
4 months ago

I once drove a Simca 1100 from Lyon to Jugoslavia with my wife and two of her aunts. We came back over the Mont Cenis pass, at night in the freezing cold, as we had two demijohns of Rakia in the boot and didn’t want to attract the attemtion of Customs. It was a solid reliable car that worked well despite being 5 yrs and 160,000 kms old. We would have loved a Ranchero.

4 months ago

The best dressed zombie hunters from the 1970s.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
4 months ago

That so looks like the inner cover, from a lost Thin Lizzy record. Doesn’t the one on the left have a vaguely Gary Moore look about him?

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
4 months ago

Phil Lynott played bass.

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