Top 10 Marque Revivals
Ten famous brands that were brought back to life with – varying degrees of success...
The original Duesenberg ended production in 1937. In the early 1960s, Fritz Duesenberg – the son of original marque co-founder Augustine – teamed-up with former Chrysler man Virgil Exner to create a new line of super-saloons. Duesenberg Junior had been inspired by a December 1963 article for Esquire magazine in which Exner envisaged a series of ‘Revival Cars’ that showcased how famous, if defunct, American brands might have evolved stylistically had fate been kinder. Based upon an Imperial chassis, complete with a 425bhp Chrysler V8, the prototype Duesenberg II was some 20ft long and boasted a 137.5in wheelbase.
AutoFact: Only one car was made by Ghia in 1966 before the project was axed.
Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a marque revival. It was a one-off project, but it was created after the original Bugatti marque tanked. Basis for this wild roadster was the last-ever Bugatti chassis (for the original Mosheim). Type 101 chassis 101506 was made in the early ’50s and featured a supercharged 3.3-litre straight-eight engine, but it was never clothed. It was acquired from the Bugatti family estate in 1961 by American Allen Henderson who, in turn, sold it to designer Virgil Exner. He entrusted the car’s construction to Ghia, the resultant showstopper was unveiled at the 1965 Turin Salon.
AutoFact: 18 inches were removed from the chassis before it was dressed.
Yet another Exner production, this Mercer revival was inspired by George Hartley, president of the Copper Development Association of New York. Hartley wanted to produce a concept car that made extensive use of copper, bronze and brass component. The intention was to make the wider automotive industry aware of its properties and potential applications. Exner roped in metal-shapers Sibona-Bassano of Turin to create the body on a Shelby Cobra platform which had been lengthened by 15 inches for its new application. The finished article took its public bow in December 1964 as the Mercer Cobra.
AutoFact: The bumpers, grille and wheel covers were treated to a copper coating.
Ever since Packard first turned turtle back in 1958 there had been attempts at reviving the brand. Among the most memorable were Budd Bayliff’s Packard-badged Buicks and Fords from the late 1970s. In 1992, he sold the rights to the name to self-styled entrepreneur Roy Gullickson for $50,000. Work began in January 1994, basis for the Packard Twelve was a spaceframe chassis structure comprising extruded aluminium sections, into which was inserted a 525ci all-alloy V12.
AutoFact: Only one prototype was built before the money ran out.
The Trident marque made an unexpected comeback at the 1998 British Motor Show. Several years in the gestation, the new car was powered by a quad-cam Ford V8 and had little in common with the original manufacturer. Little was heard of it again until the 2000 British Motor Show when the car reappeared as the Trident Iceni with the accompanying press release stating that it was to be engineered and developed by Lola founder, Eric Broadley. The Iceni has made sporadic comebacks since then, with bold talk of a GT race programme and a switch to diesel-power, but it remains something of an enigma.
AutoFact: The original Trident was rooted in an ill-starred TVR project.
More than two decades have elapsed since the Storm broke cover in November 1993, yet it hasn’t lost the power to shock. Just about everything about this car was – and remains – controversial. Consider this: when new, this car cost £219,725. By way of comparison, you could have had a Ferrari 456GT for £70k less. On the flipside, however, the V12 Storm went on to vanquish all-comers in GT racing at local and international level while being every inch a true Gran Turismo. While not to all tastes, the Storm added lustre to the original Lister brand name.
AutoFact: The bold styling was the work of graphic artist Mike Hughes, if only in part.
This once proud British marque was reanimated in the immediate post-war years with the Black Prince, but it failed to find favour. The name made an unexpected comeback in 1982 with two models: the pre-war style Tourer (pictured) which featured Jaguar XJ running gear, and the Tredicim which was an abortive Jaguar XJ13 lookalike. Both projects failed to make it to market despite plenty of media coverage. The marque was then rebooted for a third time in 2004 with the S1 which was designed by ex-Marcos men Chris Marsh and Leigh Adams. This Ford V8-engined coupé didn’t make it into volume production either.
AutoFact: The S1 featured an all carbon-fibre structure.
When the S4 first broke cover in 1983 the problem wasn’t one of recognition. Memories of the Jensen Interceptor were still fresh – the original had died as recently as May 1976 after all – and the firm that made the new strain was rooted in the original Jensen operation. Except in reality, the first ‘new’ version was built on the footprint of an original ’72 car to get around Type Approval regulations. This was a toe-in-the-water exercise, but it did lead to the Interceptor S4 as we know it. Gone were the big-block V8s, in their place a 5.9-litre Chrysler unit.
AutoFact: Just 15 S4s were made to ’93 but Jensen would live and die again subsequently.
This characterful British marque came unstuck in the early 1970s after 27 cars were impounded in the USA in the belief that they didn't conform to the country's emissions regulations (they did). With no revenue coming in, company co-founder Jem Marsh was obliged to sell out in 1971, the firm being essentially asset stripped thereafter. Marsh set up shop next door offering spares before reviving the marque in 1981, offering the classic ‘coupé’ outline in kit form. Marcos would undergo serial ownership into the 1990s, while also returning to frontline motor sport, before the final curtain descended in 2007.
AutoFact: Chris Hodgetts won the 1995 British GT2 title in a works Marcos LM600.
English Racing Automobiles is fondly recalled for its achievements on-track and in hillclimbing during the 1930s and the immediate post-war years. The name made an unexpected return in the late 1980s with a customised Mini which is widely regarded as one of the better conversions of its type. It featured a special body kit designed by ex-Marcos man, Dennis Adams, a leather-clad cabin and a turbocharged A-series engine. It was meant to be the harbinger of a series of ERA-modded road cars, including a Skoda Rapid, but the revival proved short-lived. The name has more recently been linked to a Lotus 23 replica.
AutoFact: 436 ERA Minis were made.
Pictures courtesy of Rota Archive