the War, Mathis was the number 4 car manufacturer in
France, behind Renault, CitroŽn and Peugeot. In 1934,
Emile Mathis made an agreement with Ford and his plant
in Strasbourg was producing the MATFORD, a contraction
for Mat(his) + Ford.
In 1940, Emile Mathis left France for the
United States. He started a company, MATAM, to
manufacture munitions for the Navy. By the end of the
War he had 200 employees and delivered more than 260
million artillery shells to the Navy. He later received
the "E" award from the Navy with 5 stars.
Also in 1940, Jean Andreau, very well known
for his success with aerodynamics, was in charge of a
new project; a small car to be produced after the war by
Mathis. During the 1930s, Jean Andreau designed with
Dubonnet the Dolphin, a rear engine car with a Ford V8
engine. The car was demonstrated in Detroit around 1935.
He designed a race car for the Captain John Eyston;
which was competing with John Cobb in Salt Lake City.
The maximum speed was 86 miles per hour. He was also
responsible for the Peugeot "Andreau" which was supposed
to be in production in the forties with a V8, but the
war made the project impossible.
The VL 333 is built from 20 gauge aluminum
sheet metal. The body is welded together. There is no
chassis; it is a bubble. The engine is a flat twin 700
CC and the car is front wheel drive with a full
independent suspension. Only 9 prototypes were made
during the war from 1940 to 1945; they were hidden from
the Germans, as any work on automobiles for the civilian
sector was forbidden.
The car in front of you was presented at the
Paris Automobile Show in 1946, but after the war France
was in turmoil. Raw materials and energy were in short
supply. With a Communist minister in charge of
production, Politics ran amuck. In fact, Louis Renault
was imprisoned and died shortly thereafter; and a the
Berliet brothers in Lyon suffered a similar fate.
The French Government through planification
and heavy bureaucracy refused the access to Mathis of
supplies to manufacture the car. The VEL 333 was doomed
and there is only one survivor; the one right here in
Weight: 390 kg (850 pounds)
Mileage test results from September 1942 under
control of French Office for Production :
Speed: 105 kmh (65 miles) - 3.475 liters per 100 km =
69 miles per gallon