The Renault Espace had almost been a Peugeot ... Phillipe Guédon, at that time the big boss of Matra, was looking for a replacement in 1979 for the Bagheera and Rancho that they built there for Simca. He wanted to build an American MPV for the European market that could transport at least five people and their luggage quickly and safely.
Matra designer Antoine Volanis had already completed his first study - with advice from Robert Opron. A three-door with two doors on the driver's side, but also a five-door with the steering wheel in the middle. Everything based on the base plate of a Talbot Solara.
"Project P16" was presented to the PSA management in 1979 (Peugeot Société Anonymous, full ownership of 1976 Citroën). They were extremely enthusiastic, but extremely slow in making decisions. Guédon had to have 'work' for 'his' Matra factory in the short term, so he turned to Renault. They were also very enthusiastic and he was instructed to repeat the same trick based on a Renault R18.
The project was named 'P23'. In December 1982, the first - driving - Renault Espace was shown to the then Renault director Bernard Hanon. The contract was signed in June 1983 and Matra could start working immediately. The first cars rolled out the factory gates in 1984. The Espace has been a blockbuster for Renault from the very first appearance. A few years ago Matra went down gloriously. Renault builds the Espace itself ...