Mathis VL333- 1946 - France

3 Seats and 3 Wheels

Mathis - VL333

Production Years: 1946
Country: France
Number Produced: 9 Prototypes

Before the War, Mathis was the number 4 car manufacturer in France, behind Renault, Citro├źn 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.

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 blocked Mathis from obtaining supplies to manufacture the car. The VEL 333 was doomed and there is only one survivor; the one right here in this museum.

Weight: 390 kg (850 pounds)
Top Speed: 105 kmh (65 mph)
Mileage test results from September 1942 under control of French Office for Production : 3.475 liters per 100 km = 69 miles per gallon