company_name = Ligier
slogan = Passion for car
founder = Guy Ligier
foundation = 1968
Automobile& Formula One
21 Investimenti Partners
homepage = [http://www.ligier-automobiles.com/ www.ligier-automobiles.com]
The firm entered the automobile business with the
Ligier JS2, [The Ligier motorcars were all designated with the prefix "JS" in honour of Ligier's great friend and cohort, Jo Schlesser, who was killed in the 1968 French Grand Prixwhile driving for Honda.] a central-engined sports carfor the road powered by the same Maserati V6engine as the Citroën SM. The Maserati V6 engine had a modern design and the JS2 was considered by many as a well designed car with a very good power-to-weight ratioFact|date=March 2008. The final SMs were also produced in the Ligier factory in VichyFact|date=March 2008. The 1973 energy crisiscaused such a decline in the market for the JS2 that production ceased soon after, and the firm changed its focus to microcars, for example, 1984 moped-powered Ligier JS6.
In September of 2008, Ligier Automobiles completed its acquisition of Beneteau Group's
Microcar (brand)division, with financing provided by 21 Investimenti Partners. Phillipe Ligier, son of the company's founder, remains as CEO. The Ligier and Microcar brands are to retain their separate identities and manufacturing facilities. The merger creates Europe's second largest microcar manufacturer (after Daimler's Smart unit), and largest manufacturer of drivers license-exempt vehicles.
The Ligier model line currently consists of the X-Too line of mini cars, the X-Pro line of small commercial vehicles, and the Be Up/Be Two line of open air, roadster-type vehicles. The company also produces a line of quad bikes and off-road utility vehicles sold as the Be Pro, Be Four, and Be Truck.
Ligier is best known for its
Formula Oneteam that operated from F1|1976 to F1|1996. Ligier entered Formula One in F1|1976 with a Matra V12-powered car, and won a Grand Prix with Jacques Laffitein F1|1977. This is generally considered to have been the first all-French victory in the Formula One World Championship. [Chassis, engine and driver were French. The gearbox was British ( Hewland) and the tyres American (Goodyear). Alain Prostand Renault had later victories with an all-Renault car and Michelintyres.]
The deal with Matra ceased in 1979 and Ligier built a
Cosworth-powered wing-car, the Ligier JS11. The JS11 begin the season winning the first 2 races in the hands of Laffite. However, the JS11 faced serious competition when Williams and Ferrariintroduced aerodynamically modified cars. The rest of the season was less successful for the French marque.
The JS11 and its successors made Ligier one of the top teams through the early 1980s. Despite substantial sponsorship from
Talbotand public French companies - mainly SEITAand Française des Jeux(deals which François Mitterrandhelped to put in placeFact|date=March 2008) - the competitiveness of the team began to decline around F1|1982. In the mid 1980s, the team benefitted from a "free" Renault turbo engine deal. This made them more competitive, though not a frontrunner, despite sponsorship from companies such as Gitanes, Lotoand elf. When Renault left the sport in 1986, Ligier was left without a bona fide engine supplier. An abortive collaboration with Alfa Romeo was followed by customer engine deals with Megatron (who provided them with rebadged BMW engines), Judd and Cosworthand then works contracts with Lamborghini, Renault and Mugen-Honda.
In the last years Ligier had little public support and lacked funds. Surprisingly, the team was somewhat more competitive during this period, perhaps due to the talents of aerodynamicist
Frank Dernie, whose skills had developed the Williams of Alan Jones that so regularly beat the Ligiers in the late 1970s.
The talent of the young engineer
Loïc Bigoismay have played some role as well. But this also brings some to think that, in previous years, Guy Ligier was more worried about making money than restoring the team competitivenessFact|date=March 2008. Famous for his histrionics and boisterous pitlane explosions, the recalcitrant Guy Ligier added greatly to the character of Formula One events from the mid 1970s onward, if not through the competitiveness of his teams. As one F1 commentator famously said, "You always had the feeling that even when they were winning they didn't know why..."Fact|date=March 2008. Certainly the team enjoyed an upswing when Guy Ligier sold the team to Cyril de Rouvre after a disappointing 1992 seasonFact|date=March 2008 when they once again failed to fulfil their potential despite being supplied with the same works Renault engines as the dominant Williams team - they scored eight podium finishes over the next four years, contrasting sharply with their failure to secure a single top three position between F1|1987 and F1|1992.
In F1|1996, the
Mugen Honda-powered JS43 turned out to be a well balanced car, if not on par with the Williams entriesFact|date=March 2008. It became a surprise winner as well, with the team taking the chequered flag with Olivier Panisat the Monaco Grand Prix, albeit in a race of heavy attrition. While the victory was a famous moment for French Motorsport (the first "all-French" victory at Monaco since René Dreyfusin Bugatti in 1930), it must be said it came very much against the run of play in a race in which only four cars finished the full distance.
The team was sold to
Alain Prostsoon after and became Prost Grand Prixin F1|1997. Prost GP, despite substantial financial backing by large private French companies failed to make the team competitive and went bankrupt in F1|2002.
The team traditionally used numbers 25 and 26.
Complete World Championship Formula One results
() (results in bold indicate pole position)
Ligier JS49 (2005)
In 2005, Ligier returned to sports cars with a "gentlemen driver" car, the [http://www.racecar-engineering.com/articles/sportscar/164601/ligier-js49.html JS49] , a sport prototype [http://www.frenchrendezvous.cc/ligier/ligier-js49/default.htm] made for the 2000 cc CN class.
* fr it es [http://www.ligier-automobiles.com/ Official website]
* [http://bunnik.club.fr/0lig0001.htm Pictures of Microcars made by Ligier]
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