LigierLigier is a French automobile maker created by former racing driver Guy Ligier.
The firm entered the automobile business with the Ligier JS 2: a sports car for the road powered by the same Maserati V6 engine as the Citroën SM. The Maserati V6 engine had a modern design and the JS 2 was considered by many as a well designed car with a very good power-to-weight ratio. The 1973 energy crisis caused such a decrease for the market of the JS 2 that production ceased soon after, and the firm reconverted to microcars. Ligier is now owned by Piaggio.
The firm is more known for its Formula 1 team than for its production models. Ligier entered Formula 1 in 1976 with a Matra V12-powered car, and won a Grand Prix with Jacques Lafitte in 1977. This is generally considered to have been the first all-French victory in the Formula 1 World Championship(1).
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. The JS11 faced serious competion when Williams and Ferrari introduced new cars and the rest of the season was less succesfull.
The JS11 and its successors made Ligier one of the top teams by the turn of the 1980s. Despite substantial sponsorship from public French companies - mainly SEITA and Française des Jeux (deals which Francois Mitterand helped to put in place) - the competitiveness of the team began to decline around 1982; but the team survived until 1996.
In the last years Ligier had few public support and lacked of funds. Suprinsingly this made the team more competitive. The talent of the young engineer Loïc Bigois may have played some role. But this also brings some to think that, in previous years, Guy Ligier was more worried about making money than restoring the team competitiveness.
In 1996 the Mugen-powered JS43 car turned out to be well designed and became an surprising outsider for victory. The Team became a winner again with Olivier Panis in Monaco GP.
The team was sold to Alain Prost soon after and became Prost GP in 1997. Prost GP, despite substantial financial backing by large private French companies failed to maintain the team competitiveness and went bankrupt.
(1)Chassis, engine and driver were French the gearbox was British (Hewland) and the tyres American (Goodyear). Alain Prost and Renault had later victories with an all-Renault car and Michelin tyres.