Dallara, one of the most well known chassis constructors in all of racing, currently is developing its first road car. Many might think it’s unusual for a race shop to try and make it in the cut-throat automotive industry, but Dallara is far from the first company to try to do so.
Some of the biggest automotive brands in the world not only have long histories in racing, but actually got their starts in motorsports.
In some cases, these outfits grew over time and established themselves as serious players in the industry. Others, however, were absorbed by larger automakers who wanted to expand their portfolio to include performance cars.
Here are five automotive brands that made names for themselves as race shops:
Photo via Ferrari
Manufacturers typically get involved in racing to sell production vehicles. Enzo Ferrari, though, began selling road cars so he could continue to fund his motorsport outfit, Scuderia Ferrari.
Photo via Daimler
Before Mercedes-Benz launched its performance sub-brand, AMG solely used to prepare the company’s race cars to run in DTM. It then began making sportier versions of standard Mercedes, such as the C63. However, Mercedes-AMG really took off once it launched the SLS AMG, its first standalone car, which has been succeeded by the GT.
Photo via Volvo
With Polestar, Volvo is following the Mercedes-AMG rollout plan to a T. Polestar Cyan Racing builds Volvos racers for the World Touring Car Championship, and in 2013 made a limited-production version of the C30 hatchback that had all-wheel-drive and roughly 250 horsepower. Since then, Volvo has launched two Polestar-tuned production models, the S60 and V60, and the company is planning a standalone Polestar EV.
Photo via McLaren
You wouldn’t know it based on the team’s current performance, but McLaren statistically is one of the most successful Formula One teams ever. So, in 1992, it applied its racing know-how to the F1 road car. Apart from its work with Mercedes on the SLR, McLaren stayed out of the automotive sector for a while after the F1. It re-entered in 2011 with 12C (pictured), and now is firmly established as one of the top supercar manufacturers.
Photo via Shelby
Carroll Shelby famously partnered with British manufacturer AC Cars and Ford in the 1960s to create the V-8-powered Shelby Cobra, which was a very successful road racer. Shelby died in 2012, but his name lives on through his tuning company, as well as the Shelby GT350 and GT350R variants of the Ford Mustang.
Thumbnail photo via Ferrari