Matra-Simca MS670 #15 – Spark

ms670
1972 Matra-Simca MS670 #15
Pilots: H. Pescarolo, G.Hill
Team: Equipe Matra-Simca Shell
Race: 1st overall (S 3.0) at Le Mans in 1972
Spark - 43LM723 (resin)

Published 01/22/21

Matra began producing race cars in the early 60s, for Formula 2 and 3. Their first sport prototype, the MS610, came out in 1965, and the following year they released the MS620. Despite being only their second sport prototype, the brand was confident, and the car’s first race was at Le Mans. The factory team consisted of three cars, but unfortunately, none lasted to the end. From then on, the brand kept evolving the project, with new models every year: MS630, MS650 and MS660. In 1967, Matra issued a bold claim: they wanted to win the 24 Heures du Mans. Frenchmen were ecstatic, because the last French car to win at La Sarthe was a Talbot-Lago in 1950. With FIA limiting engines for sport cars at 3 liters for 1968, Matra had a chance. Nonetheless, up to 1971 their best result was a fourth place in 1969, with the MS650.

ms670
Curious fact: the only time the MS670 raced was at Le Mans in 1972.

Shortly after Le Mans in 1971, the manufacturer dived into a new project: the MS670. The engine for the new car was the same (but refined) one used since 1968. This refined new power plant was the MS72, a 2999 cm³ V12 with 48 valves and DOHC. Fed by a Matra/Lucas fuel injection system, it delivered over 450 hp through a ZF gearbox. The chassis was an aluminum monocoque, with everything covered by a fiberglass body. Despite being technically a new car, Matra made only four specimens and their first race was exactly Le Mans. A pretty bold move by Matra, however the FIA gave them a hand. For 1972 the sanctioning body outlawed the big 5-liter engines of both the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512. With those heavy hitters out of the fray, the MS670 had a good chance.

Of the three MS670 in the 1972 race, only #15 was a short tail version.

Carrying France’s national pride, Matra came to La Sarthe in 1972 loaded for bear. The team consisted of four cars (three MS670 and one MS660C) and a technical crew of 60. Yet, despite all the investment, things started to go wrong very early. With just one lap the MS670 #12 was out with an expired engine. On lap 278 the MS660C #16 ran out of fuel. Fortunately after those mishaps things settled down, and cars #14 and #15 swapped the lead quite a few times. But at 4:00 pm on Sunday, MS670 #15 finished in first place, with MS670 #14 in second. That was the first time both Henry Pescarolo and Graham Hill won at La Sarthe. Furthermore, the victory gave Hill the so-called “Triple Crown”. To this day he is the only man to win Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One World Championship.

And now I have all the Matra cars ever to win at Le Mans…

I’m not sure why, but this particular Matra model is hard to find. At least for me, I’ve been after it ever since I got the MS670C, but with no success until now. While both the 73 and 74 cars are easy to source, this one is scarce, even the Ixo version. In fact, last year I tried, but the eBay seller, after a month, left me hanging – “his supplier couldn’t find one”. Why the heck doesn’t eBay make it mandatory that sellers divulge up front that they don’t have the product in hands? In big and bold capital letters 😒? Thankfully it wasn’t a hassle to get my money back.

My favorite? The 1974 #7. That huge scoop over the cockpit screams 1970s.

However, I digress. I finally managed to find one, and Spark did a beautiful job on it. Just look at the engine detail! With that, compared to my other two from Ixo, this one truly shines. Not that the Ixo are bad, they’re truly pretty good, but this one is great. For me this one became a grail model, both because it’s the first winning MS670 and because of the hard time I had to get one. In fact, I would have even settled for the Ixo version. Like the 73 and 74 models, it’s also pretty nice. Fortunately though I scored the Spark version, and if you can find one, I highly recommend it.

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