When I do a Jason Drives episode where the car isn’t bizarre, or some terrifying mechanical abortion that wants to kill me, I get a little insecure. Will people want to watch me if they think I may live until the end of the video? I’m not really sure. This time, though, the only danger I’m in is getting charm poisoning in my blood. But this Matra Djet is worth the risk.

I adore this little car. It hits all my sweet spots: lovely, ‘60s era design with that right combination of details, a body design that’s sleek but not too sleek, mid-engine, all riding (by modern standards) absurdly high and on shockingly skinny tires. I’m a total sucker for the look.

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It also drives the way I like — the power/weight ratio is just right to be fun, while also pretty much unable to get you into any real trouble — that 1108cc Renault engine right behind you is only making about 80HP. Everything is manual and very mechanical and direct. The car is small and intimate enough that it gives you the sort of mechanical-driving-suit feeling you get when you’re in a car that very quickly starts to feel like an extension of your body, like a fantastic French blue prosthetic.

It’s sort of like the Subaru BRZ of the ‘60s — not much power, but simple, fun, rewarding to drive in a very straightforward, honest way.

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Plus, they gave one of these to Yuri Gagarin! America’s astronauts had Corvettes, the Cosmonauts had Djets. I’m sure I could be involved in a room-slumbering argument with someone on the respective merits of those two cars.

The Djet, being French, is plenty quirky and full of great details, like the strange aversion to labeling any control, or the delightfully absurd and half-assed solution to dealing with the way the wind, when the roof is open, can blow out the rear window. Watch the video to see what I mean.

As worried as I am about your willingness to watch me in a non-terrible car, I’ll ask you to please watch this video. Not for me, but for you, because any exposure to a charming little car like the Djet is worth it.

Oh, and that fart at the end was Roselli’s, our cinematographer. I’m not taking the blame for that one, deny/supply rule be damned.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.

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