As an automotive design enthusiast, I am constantly inspired by icons of the past. One of these iconic vehicles that marked its era is the Ligier JS2. Having worked at Ligier some time ago, let me help you (re)discover the design of this fantastic French product.
The Birth of the Ligier JS2
The Ligier JS2 is a true treasure of the automotive world. Designed and manufactured in the 1970s by Guy Ligier’s teams, it was an emblematic success of French craftsmanship. Inspired by the JS1, the JS2 design is a perfect combination of performance, beauty and functionality. It will participate in numerous competitions including endurance races and particularly the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The influence of aerodynamics
One of the most striking features of the JS2 is its aerodynamic design. The bodywork of the JS1 was studied in a wind tunnel. The teardrop shape and curves were the result of a collaboration between Guy Ligier and talented automotive designer Pietro Frua. The JS2 bodywork was then reworked by the bodybuilder Pichon-Parat. Of course at the time, and particularly for a racing vehicle, manufacturers focused above all on aerodynamic performance for the curves of the bodywork. In addition, it was the first road-legal car from Ligier. Brand image constraints were therefore very limited. This perhaps explains some criticism regarding the aesthetics of the vehicle.
Pietro Frua already integrated ergonomic features into this car, notably following the desire of Guy Ligier and the engineer Michel Têtu to study the architecture of the vehicle in a scale 1 model. Thus, the field of vision of this model was very appreciated at the era as well as access to the cockpit. The design methodology has evolved since then but it is interesting to note their approach which was already effective for the time. Of course, the concept of “perceived quality” was non-existent at the time, which explains some visually impactful adaptations, which is what makes the Ligier JS2 so charming today.
The Quest for Lightness
To improve the performance of the JS2, the designers showed ingenuity by using lightweight materials. The fiberglass-reinforced polyester bodywork was chosen for its lightness, which made it possible to obtain an exceptional power-to-weight ratio for the time.
Thanks to Michel Beaujon (former Ligier engineer) and Ligier Automotive, I had the chance to see the originals mechanical plans. Very often scale 1 plans are enormous, a few square meters. It’s impressive to see how without all the modern CAD tools, these teams were already able to optimize vehicle masses and architecture.
Ultimately, the Ligier JS2 is a perfect example of the importance of automotive design in creating vehicles that transcend time. Its aerodynamic design, lightweight materials, history and craftsmanship make it a legendary collector’s model. As an automotive designer, I draw inspiration from these masterpieces of the past to create the vehicles of the future.
I hope this article has allowed you to appreciate the JS2 from a new perspective, highlighting the art of automotive design.
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