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1946 MATHIS VL333

Voiture Legere (light vehicle), 3 Wheels, 3 Seats, 3 Liters per 100 Kilometers

Production Years

1942-1945

Country

France

Number Produced

9

Engineer

Emile Mathis

Before World War II, Mathis ranked as the fourth-largest car manufacturer in France, following Renault, Citroën, and Peugeot. In 1934, Émile Mathis entered into an agreement with Ford, leading to the production of the MATFORD at his Strasbourg plant—a blend of Mat(his) and Ford. In 1940, Mathis relocated to the United States, establishing MATAM to manufacture munitions for the Navy. By the War's end, he had 200 employees and delivered over 260 million artillery shells to the Navy, earning the prestigious “E” award with 5 stars.


The VL 333's body is crafted from 20-gauge aluminum sheet metal, showcasing strength in its chassis-free design with over 6,000 welds. Its engine is a 15 h.p. 707 c.c. water-cooled flat-twin, featuring front-wheel drive and a fully independent suspension. Crafted as one of only nine prototypes during the wartime ban on civilian automobile work, it remained hidden from the Germans. The showcased car made its debut at the 1946 Paris Automobile Show.

Post-war, France faced challenges, with shortages in raw materials and energy. Governmental planning and bureaucracy hindered Mathis from obtaining supplies to produce the VL 333. Despite its doomed fate, this surviving prototype stands as a testament to its resilience. Weighing 390 kg (850 pounds) and reaching a top speed of 105 km/h (65 mph), the VL 333 demonstrated impressive efficiency with a mileage test result of 3.475 liters per 100 km (69 miles per gallon) in September 1942 under the French Office for Production's control. Explore the story of the VL 333—a remarkable survivor from a transformative era.

1946 MATHIS VL333
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