Matra Simca Bagheera Love



 When I was growing up a neighbour had a Matra Simca Bagheera. This neighbour was a vaguely bohemian PE teacher – a strange combo of things if ever there was one.

Our neighbour’s Bagheera had been named after the snooty but sleek panther character in the hollywood version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – and like Kipling’s fictional cat it was a lithe, nimble little lightweight. It had a polyester shell that lent it svelte, flexible aspect but the steel frame beneath the skin came without protection from corrosion. They tended therefore to rot – and that’s explains why these days you don’t see many of them about.

The PE teacher/Bagheera pilot was friendly with my dad, and after the old man had popped in to see him, usually on some ostensible DIY mission, he often whiffed faintly of patchouli oil.

There were a lot of nods and winks about the guy on our street – he was a good looking bloke in his late twenties with long shaggy hair – and at all hours there seemed to be a constant stream of pretty girls coming in and out of the house.

There was an air of mystery about him; a vague hint of a quirky sort of otherness. I always wondered what dad was really doing in the PE teacher’s house. Looking back, you can see that this mysterious aspect of him was perfectly reflected in the car he drove.

This was the seventies, things were looser, less defined.

Cars always seemed back then to say something about who you were. That might still be true today – but if so the utterence is less compelling.

How many of the things your car says about you are not really worth saying?