Now then, the Matra Rancho is a very interesting vehicle. It was created by the French company, Matra and was build to be a sort of off-roader like LAV (and no that isn't short for lavatory but instead for Leisure Activity Vehicle). Matra made this in cooperation with the French car maker, Simca in order to capitalise on the off-roader trend set by Range Rover. In fact, the Rancho does look a bit like an early Land Rover Discovery.
The Rancho was built to offer the freedom of a Range Rover but for a cheaper price, when these were new they went for around £5,650 which back then was a considerable amount of money for a car no one had heard of but still around £3,000 less than a new Range Rover at the time.
Launched in 1977, the Rancho quickly became a popular car and they sold a total of 57,792 from 1977 until 1985. Designed by the Greek industrial designer, Antonis Volanis the Rancho was based on the pickup version of the Simca 1100's chassis, which existed before the Rancho. The rest of the car was made out of fibreglass and polyester which meant it was rather light for such a big car and weighed in at around 1,130kg which is just a little heavier than a Ford KA. But, little did many people know that this setup was to be later used on the Renault Espace which was Europe's first MPV.
Despite Matra wanting the Rancho to be an 'off-roader' it was not fitted with 4X4 but instead featured a FWD layout which makes no sense if they wanted it to sort of be an off-roader but then again it was also meant to be a LAV. As well as this, the Rancho was fitted with a useless 80 bhp straight four engine, a bit of a disappointment if i'm honest. Another strange thing you may notice about the Rancho is that it only has a 3 door configuration which is most peculiar for what this car is suppose to represent, especially since it ONLY came with 3 doors, no other option.
Over the years, Matra introduced a few more variants of the Rancho. There was the Grand Raid which was a more off-road friendly option which was fitted with an electric winch, extra spare wheel mounted on the roof (increases cool factor!), a limited slip differential, undercarriage protection, bronze tinted windows, and was only available in a matte green colour which I think looks proper cool.
One could also opt for the Rancho X which was the more 'luxury' option which came with as standard with alloy wheels, metallic paint, well that's it.. as you can see, all the luxuries were included! No expenses spared...
The Découvrable was a more relaxed option which came with an open frame rear cabin with roll-down fabric covers, which could serve as an "open" car during good weather. Lastly there was the Rancho AS which was the commercial version with no rear seat, making it exempt from the French tax on passenger cars.
However, just when I thought all hope was lost, I stumbled across this on the internet. Whoever made this I salute you.