A recent news article about the resurrection of long lost UK motor manufacturer Atalanta, a short lived maker from the late 1930’s, got me thinking about other lost, and then found, brands. Granted, unless you are a diehard vintage car fan you are unlikely to have heard of Atalanta, for this innovative and technically advanced manufacturer managed only 21 cars before production was interrupted by the war. Curiously, the name has been revived a couple of times since then and this time the plan is to build a limited run of cars built as close as possible to the original design, but with modern build quality and safety standards in place. This approach is somewhat different to that of other resurrected names – one of which has been used to promote one of the most amazing cars of all time.
The Comeback Kings: Bugatti
Once consigned to oblivion, the great Bugatti name – purveyor of some of the most beautiful, brilliant and outlandish road and racing cars of the first half of the 20th century – came back with a bang thanks to the innovation and daring of the brands owners, the VW Group. Seemingly lost forever was the marque formed by the obsessively perfectionist Ettore Bugatti in 1909 at the famous works in Mosheim, France, a factory that produced the iconic Type 35, Type 57 Atalante, the incredible Royale and many more fabulous creations before the company’s eventual, overdue demise in 1962. Then, after much speculation and waiting, came the astounding Veyron, a car like no other before. Ettore would have been proud, for this no holds barred, uncompromised and quite spectacular vehicle set the benchmark for performance hypercars, and is likely to do so for some time. Would the great Ettore Bugatti have ever imagined a road car could hit 268mph (431km/h)? Probably not, but it does, and it inspires wonderment everywhere; a fitting tribute to the Old Master.
The Comeback Kings: AC Cars
The recent death of US legend Carroll Shelby – a man who changed the face of high performance sports cars when he shoehorned a big block V8 into a pretty AC Ace and thereby created the legendary AC Cobra – brought the AC name back into the pages of the motoring news, yet all but the most ardent enthusiasts will have known that the company was, effectively, no more. The situation is confusing thanks in no small part to the proliferation of Cobra ‘continuation’ cars, but the truth is that AC Cars itself no longer exists. However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for while AC no longer has manufacturing capacity as such, it has announced a new model: enter the AC 378 Zagato, a car that owes its existence very much to the Cobra concept. If you think it looks familiar that’s because it has been appearing at shows for some years now as the Perana Z-One concept. It is proposed to build it at AC Cars partners in South Africa. With over 430bhp on tap this lightweight coupe is scheduled to deliver 185mph (297km/h) and sub-four second acceleration to 62mph (100km/h), figures that put it right up there with its main rivals. Production is scheduled for late 2012, so watch this space.
The Comeback Kings: Jensen
Some brands simply will not lie down and die, and UK manufacturer Jensen is one such. Most famous for the ground-breaking and utterly mighty Interceptor, a luxury car with a niche all of its own, this inventive midlands company followed the lead set by the likes of Bristol in using American V8 engines in its Italian styled cars. The Interceptor may have been pushing the boundaries of economy with its seven litre engine and prodigious thirst, but it encroached on the supercar market with some style. Now, we have the model revived by enthusiasts – not so much reborn as renovated, with Jensen International Automotive – a company backed by a mobile phone mogul – rebuilding Interceptors using modern parts. What buyers get is an authentic Interceptor, a beautiful car with timeless styling, but with 21st century know-how, and that can only be a good thing. Limited edition recreations and revivals such as this should be welcomed with open arms.
How many other marques will be revived in future years, and with what success? We have already seen legendary MG revived under its new Chinese owners, and there have been several attempts to bring back the classic Reliant Scimitar. Rumours abound that VW may one day revive the legendary Auto Union name for a supercar, although such a move looks unlikely. Looking at the famous names that have gone by the wayside over the last 50 years it is easy to see enthusiasts make a move for some more iconic brands, and we will be watching with interest when they do.