Guy Ligier - The Man Who Built Ligier Car Company

Being an orphan Guy Ligier developed this fighting and never say die attitude that was about to take him places. He was one of those few persons who successfully ventured into many streams. Guy Ligier, born on 12th July 1930 was an orphan who later went on to play Rugby for France. Although before stepping onto field for rugby, he was an assistant to some local butcher in the town of Vichy. He played rugby for France in the later half of 1940's. From his job at butcher house, he saved some money and bought a used earthmover. It was this decision of his that changed his destiny.

With that earthmover, he entered the construction business to build a fortune. He spent most part of the 1950's and 1960's building his business. However, with money coming his way he was able to realize his dream of being a motorsport driver. He started with motorcycle racing but soon realizes his passion for car racing. His first race was on a single-seater Elva-DKW at Formula One Junior.

In the later part of the 1960's Guy moved over to the Porsche sports car. Eventually he made his Formula One Debut in 1966 with a Cooper Maserati. In 1967, he used Brabham Repco to compete in F1 but both his attempts were not very fruitful. Thus in 1968 Guy Ligier went into a partnership with Jo Schlesser, buying a couple McLaren Formula 2 Cars. When Jo Schlesser was killed in a race in F1 at French Grand Prix 1968, Ligier took retirement from F1 racing.

The death of Jo Schlesser had put Ligier into deep grief and he decided to show his love and respect for the man by bringing out the first racing car of Ligier Car Company, JS1. Michel Tetu designed the JS1 car. In 1974 when Guy Ligier bought the Matra Sports, it cleared the way for Ligier to bring up his own Formula One team. Jacques Laffite was the premier driver of Ligier team. With Patrick Depailler and Didier Pidroni joining the Ligier team, they became a formidable force on the F1 circuit during the 1980's.

Due to his closeness with the former French President Francois Mitterrand, Ligier's Car Company got many favors from the government most of them during the troubled times. They got the sponsorship from government owned companies like Elf and got the engines supply from Renault due to political pressure. However, when around 1992 Guy Ligier realized that the his supportive socialist government would not last long, he decided to sell off his Formula One team to Cyril de Rouvre.

With the money, he made another fortune in the natural fertilizer market at that time. The socialist government fell and his apprehensions came true. With that said, it also needs to be told that Guy Ligier also built a business selling Ligier Microcars. Since Ligier sold his F1 team, its performance only dipped. Although they had some good results in between but they could never again become a force to reckon on the F1 circuit. The team finally came under the ownership of former F1 driver Alain Prost. It was renamed Prost Grand Prix.