Matra Simca Bagheera vs. Lancia D24: Which one is more comfortable for your race?

Do you think a racing car made in 1973 is better than another race car made in 1953?

The answer may surprise you. The Lancia D24 is a sports racing car that was launched in 1953. This car went to win several competitions, earning worldwide critical acclaim and recognition. It was able to produce 265 bhp at 6,200 rpm and achieved a top speed of 162 mph.
The Matra Simca Bagheera, on the other hand, was produced in 1973. It is also a race car that was manufactured in 1973. Having been made 20 years later, you would think it would boast above-average features to beat the Lancia D24. The truth is the Bagheera could only produce 84 hp at 6,000 rpm and reached a lesser maximum speed of 115 mph.
This article will dive deeper into the comparison between the Matra Simca Bagheera and Lancia D24. We will focus on the key differences to showcase why the Lancia D24 is superior and more efficient than the Bagheera.

Matra Simca Bagheera Lancia D24
Production year1973-19801953-1954
Estimated cost today$7,600 – $30,000$1,200,000 – $1,800,000
Curb weight2,127 pounds/ 965 kg760 kg / 1675.8 pounds
Body style3-seater hatchback2-door Spyder with aluminum body
Engine1.3-liter petrol, Poissy mid-engine mounted transversely, rear-wheel drive 3.3-liter Twin spark 60-degree V6 front longitudinal with Dry sump lubrication
ValvetrainInline OHV, straight-four cylindersChain-driven DOHC, two valves per cylinder
Engine capacity1294 cc3284 cc
Fuel capacity15.9 US gallons / 60.19 liters29.05 US gallons / 110 liters
Bore76.7 mm3.7 inches/ 93 mm
Stroke70 mm3.6 inches/ 92 mm
Compression ratio9.5:19.0:1
Maximum Power84 hp / 62.6 kW at 6000 rpm 265 bhp / 197.6 kW at 6200 rpm
Body frameNineteen panels made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester attached to the chassisAluminum body over a multi-tubular steel frame. 
Front tiresMichelin XAS FF 155 HR 135 x 16 inches
Rear tiresMichelin XAS FF 185 HR 135.5 x 16 inches
Front brakes238 mm with a fixed caliperInboard aluminum drums
Rear brakes234 mm with floating caliperInboard aluminum drums
SuspensionFront: Anti-roll bar with upper and lower A-arms, telescopic hydraulic dampers with torsion bars running longitudinally. 
RearAnti-roll bar with upper and lower A-arms, telescopic shock absorbers with torsion bars running transversely.
Front: Double Wishbones with hydraulic dampers and transverse leaf springs. 
Rear:  De Dion-tube axle with transverse leaf springs and hydraulic dampers.
TransmissionFour-speed manual transaxle transmission, rear-wheel driveFive-speed manual transaxle transmission with limited-slip differential
Maximum speed115 mph / 185 kph162 mph / 260 kph
Acceleration0-62.1 mph / 0-100 kph in just 11.5 seconds0-60 mph in just 5 seconds

Historical background

Lancia D24


The Lancia D24 was the successor of the Lancia D23; the Lancia D25 later succeeded it. This model was first launched in 1953. The D24 went on to win major events such as the Mille Maglia, Carrera Panamericana, and the Targa Florio. The car was so great that it defeated famous challengers such as Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo.

The Lancia D24 was the idea of Gianni Lancia and Vittoruio Jano, a top-notch race car designer. The two made design changes and layout modifications, including the engine from 1953 and 1954. All the variants they worked on were not allowed for commercial purposes; they were all dedicated to factory racing.

The work of Vittorio did not show any effort for a while till he opted for the V6 engine that could produce 265 bhp. After the remarkable engine performance, he proceeded to modify the chassis to accommodate the more precise De-Dion axle on the rear.

Lancia D24’s first historical win was at the Carrer Panamericana race in Mexico in 1953. The three top most spots at the race were held by Lancia race cars, the first one being the D24 driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. 

Another great win came in 1954 when the Lancia D24 won the Mille Maglia on European grounds. The celebration after this win was huge since the Lancia defeated the Ferrari 500 Mondial by a whopping 26 minutes. Ferrari hadn’t lost any race for over five years at the time.

The Lancia D24 did not have a long racing life. After 1954, the car was put aside to usher in the Lancia D50 that raced in the Grand Prix, marking the end of its racing life.

Matra Simca Bagheera


The French engineering and technology group called Matra partnered up with Simca, a subsidiary of Chrysler and an automaker to produce the Mata Bagheera. Two names have known this car; Talbot-Matra Bagheera during its last year and Matra-Simca Bagheera before its previous year. The name was changed in its last year of production due to the company takeover by Peugeot S.A.

Bagheera was launched on the 14th of April 1973 at Annecy lake. 

The aerodynamic-oriented design captured a lot of attention from the audience due to its uniqueness. The official public release was done the same year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After which, 500 units were available at dealers for purchase, making it commercially available, unlike the Lancia D24.

The Matra Simca Bagheera was so successful that by the end of 1973, the model was being produced at huge amounts of 65 vehicles per day.

Experience Comparison

During one of its first wins in 1954, Gino Valenzano, an Italian racing driver, said that the Lancia D24 was incredible at handling. He also mentioned that the car had no grip, especially at its highest speeds and rpm. Despite this shortcoming, the Lancia is rated as one of the most user-friendly vehicles of the time. This is proven by how it set various records at approximately 200 kph in specific scenarios. 

The Lancia was also praised for its quick and elegant design. It performed better than similar class front-engine racing cars from Italy, Germany, and England. As much as the Lancia was a racing car, it could also be used as a regular car due to its sporty design, making it an excellent car to flaunt when going to the mall.

Moreover, Lancia D24 was a race winner that was very reliable, capable of surviving a whole season of racing without any significant complications.  

On the other hand, the Matra Simca Bagheera looks like the fastest car you have ever seen at first glance. Its design showcases Matra’s aerodynamics and engineering expertise with its web joints and monocoque design.

As much as the Matra Simca rode well, it never failed to show you how horrible the suspension system was. Drivers complained about the loud road noises they could hear from inside the vehicle. The suspension and steering were not well-tuned for long rides along rough tracks and terrains. However, these imperfections did not deter people from getting the Matra Simca.

Suspension Design Comparison 

The Lancia D24 has the best suspension system. The Matra Bagheera may have been great at handling, but its suspension system wasn’t as well built since the riders could feel vibrations. The Bagheera used a front suspension that used the same system as the Simca 1100. 

The front suspension consisted of telescopic hydraulic dampers, torsion bars arranged longitudinally, and upper and lower A-arms. The company implemented the use of anti-roll bars on both the front and rear suspension.

On the rear, the suspension consisted of the anti-roll bar with upper and lower A-arms, telescopic shock absorbers with torsion bars running transversely.

Although the Lancia D24 is older, it boasted a front suspension system made from double wishbones with hydraulic dampers and transverse leaf springs. The rear consisted of a De Dion-tube axle with transverse leaf springs and hydraulic dampers.

Lancia experienced a smoother and more gentle drive along rough terrains and uncharted roads. Its suspension provided better shock absorption and track handling due to the superior De-Dion suspension system on the rear.

Comfortable Design Comparison 

Lancia D24 is a single-seater, while the Bagheera is a three-seater. The three-seater combination on the Bagheera was not truly practical, especially for a racing car making it less appealing than its competition. The middle seat was ideal for those family men who wanted to place a child in the middle.

The Lancia is so low that you feel like your part of it when you sit in it. The seat and position make it ‘wrap’ around you joining your body with that of the car. This made the D24 very comfortable compared to similar vehicles it competed with.

Getting into the D24 is easy as the top is fully open with no roof. The Bagheera has a roof and narrow doors making it hard to enter the car. However, once you get into the Matra Simca Bagheera, there is enough breathing room for your head and legs.

Another comfort disadvantage that the Bagheera had that the D24 did not is the excessive noises produced by the engine. The tiny 1294 cc engine showed you how hard you were pushing it by making very loud engine noises at high speeds. This was not exhibited in the Lancia D24; its massive 3284 cc engine was able to handle high RPMs without any concerning noises.

Aerodynamics Comparison

Aerodynamics is the only section the three-seater hatchback defeats the Lancia D24. Bagheera opted for a more obvious aerodynamic-oriented design with its wedge-shaped design. This wedge-shaped design gave the car a contemporary feel that people loved. The car’s looks were dramatic but still functional, a design concept they picked from the Ferrari designs of the time.

Lancia opted for a more conventional 2-door Spyder look engulfed in an aluminum body. The aluminum body was placed over a multi-tubular steel frame. The eventual design entailed a durable aerodynamic vehicle with an open-top and streamlined look. 

The aerodynamic features of a sports car can greatly impact its engine performance and speed. For the best results, a great performing engine is put in a streamlined body, and this is why the D24 was a faster and better performer. The Bagheera trails behind due to the less superior engine used in the car.

Engine Comparison

The first engine used in the Bagheera was a 1294 cc Poissy engine from the Simca 1100. The original engine was an OHV four-cylinder engine that was capable of producing 84 horsepower at just 6000 rpm. It was later upgraded in 1976 to a 1442 cc OHV straight four-cylinder engine. As much as this improved, it did not produce any power to beat the Lancia D24’s engine.

Lancia put a 3284 cc, 3.3-liter twin spark 60-degree V6 engine. It came with dry-sump lubrication and produced a maximum power of 265 bhp / 197.6 kW at 6200 rpm. A top speed of 165 mph was easily attainable, making it one of the best race cars of its time. 

Budget Comparison

Being the vintage vehicles they are, you should not expect a low price for these two race cars. The Matra Simca Bagheera is the cheapest since it had more production units, and the build quality is not that great. You can find used, refurbished, and restored versions of the car for as low as $7,000 to as high as $30,000.

The price of the Matra Simca is not that bad considering the build quality of the vehicle and its accessibility. You will not be riding this car on the road, at least not efficiently, and therefore, it is beneficial for enthusiasts and collectors.

The same buying decision applies to the more extremely expensive Lancia D24. With only six of these vehicles made, you can be guaranteed to get the Lancia for a hefty price. Fun fact; there are only two original D24s that survive up to date. One of these two is stored in a European museum in Turin, the Museo Nazionale dell’ Automobile. 

The ones you may find for sale are reconstructed versions of the car. Even though they use many original parts such as the engine and transmission, they alter a few design specifications such as the tires and brakes. These models sell at auctions at bids of approximately $1,500,000.


With the improvement in engineering and technology, it is great to see that older car models can still outperform newer models. The Lancia D24 showcases the importance of using durable material to construct a vehicle, giving it a longer lifespan and lower depreciation over time.

The Bagheera, despite its classic looks, was a good performing vehicle but less durable. Its body frame made out of nineteen panels of fiberglass-reinforced polyester did not add to its long-term durability. Riders complained of leaks on the roof, frequent cracks, and deformations. All of these factors contributed to its eventual fast depreciation and low rank.

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