The Matra Rancho wis a leisure activity vehicle created bi the French engineering group Matra in cooperation wi the automaker Simca tae capitalize on the off-road trend, started bi the Range Rover, bi providin the "off-road look" at a lawer price.
The Rancho wis launched in 1977 an became a popular model, but this did na alleviate more wider problems at Chrysler Europe (Simca's parent company). Chrysler finally sold its European arm tae PSA in 1978, following which it wis rebranded as Talbot in 1979. The Matra-Simca Rancho now became the Talbot Matra Rancho an production continued until 1984 (although it remained on sale up tae Januar 1985), reachin 57,792 caurs in total.
Designed bi Antonis Volanis, the Rancho wis based on the pick-up version o Simca's popular supermini, the Simca 1100, uisin its front structure an a stretched chassis. The rest o the body wis made bi Matra frae fibreglass an polyester, includin the mouldings adornin the body, which made it look more "sturdy". This technology woud later be uised on the Renault Espace, Europe's first MPV, which wis manufactured bi Matra. The grund clearance wis also increased. Unlike maist off-roaders, it wis na fitted with all-wheel drive, retaining the 1100s front-wheel drive layoot. Ither elements retained frae the 1100 includit the dashboard an front seats (identical wi the anes foond in the Simca 1100 GLS). The Rancho wis pouered bi the 1442 cc, 80 bhp version o the Simca Type 315 straight-4 engine.
During its life, the Rancho wis offered in several versions. Apart frae the basic Rancho, there wis the Grand Raid, fitted with such "off-road" extras as an electric winch on the front bumper an the spare wheel mounted on the roof - as well as a limited-slip differential. The Rancho X wis the upscale model, with additional standard items such as alloy wheels an metallic paint. The Découvrable model's rear cabin consisted o an open frame wi roll-down fabric covers, which coud serve as an "open" caur during guid weather. Finally, the Rancho AS wis the commercial version, wi nae rear seat, makin it exempt frae the French tax on passenger caurs.
The vehicle that Matra proposed tae PSA as a replacement for the Rancho (which haed been available with twa extra, rear-facing seats) wis a "monospace" (single box shape) concept, with flexible seating, which wis ultimately rejected bi Talbot's parent company. However, Matra managed tae sell it tae Renault an it became the Renault Espace.