Most people when launching a new product normally try to come up with a new name to reflect innovation. Then it comes to cars, however, there is a trend to resurrect a name from the past so we have had Allard, Connaught, Osca, Lea-Francis, Jensen, Invicta, Spyker, Ermini and that is just scratching the surface. It does not matter that the original went bust, sometimes several times and that is also the likely fate of the revival, people will revive defunct names. Sometimes, not always, the new project has bought the rights to the old name because old companies do not always die but can exist in a limbo. Mike Cooper, son of John, bought the family firm, Cooper Cars, for a hundred pounds. He obtained just the name and the original logo, no plans or hardware, though there has been a huge sentimental bonus.
The 2019 Geneva Motor Show saw the debut of the Hispano Suiza Carman, an electric vehicle with 1,050 bhp and retro styling which divided opinion. There exists, however, another Hispano Suiza also boasting more than 1,000 bhp, this time from a turbo-charged Audi engine, and also with a US$1.5 million price ticket and styling which has not received unanimous approval. The Austrian behind this venture claims to have bought the original firm and there are famous names in abeyance – I know someone, Peter Schomer, who has bought several, including Coventry Climax.
He does not own any Climax hardware or blueprints, he owns just the name and logo, the latter being Lady Godiva having a chilly ride on a horse. Jaguar bought Coventry Climax in 1963 after the company had already decided to stop making racing engines from the end of the 1,500-cc F1 because it was losing too much money. Under Jaguar ownership Climax entered the morass that became the British motor industry. What many people do not know was that a substantial part of the company’s business was the manufacture of fork-lift trucks which is why it ended up being owned by a Swedish company, Kalmar. For a while Kalmar Climax fork-lifts were made and then Climax was discarded.