ARGO SPORTS CARS
Champions on two continents
From 1983 to 1993
In 1983 a new era began with Jo and Nick concentrating their efforts on Sportscar and Indianapolis racing. The Argo JM15 was built for Bill Alsup. From the experience learnt constructing the Indycar they produced their first batch of Sportscars for IMSA racing (International Motor Sports Association). This became the JM16 which Jo designed, assisted by Nigel Stroud. As it was supposedly based on a Royale car the brand owner successfully claimed the design rights in court and re-branded several JM16s as Royale.
Jim Downing took delivery of the first car (chassis JM16 097) and raced it in the IMSA GTP series at Daytona. Successes led to 6 more chassis being supplied to the USA. The Camel Lights class was won by Argo with Jim Downing and co-driver John Maffucci winning almost everything between 1985-87. Downing played a large part in developing both the JM16 and JM19. Later there were to be 3 variants of the JM19 taking them into the early 1990's. The bodywork was designed in conjunction with Design Achim Storz (Austria) to give a very low drag coefficient coupled with ample down force.
The late 1980's were some of the best times, financially, for Argo cars. At the same time, technology was moving fast and CAD systems for design were becoming de rigeur. Jo's designs, done on the drawing board were 'works of Art'. Artistically it was somewhat sad to see computers taking over from the hand-drawn drawings. But Jo felt he had to move with the times. By now in his mid- 50's it was no easy task to change from many years 'at the drawing board' to CAD design. Also, at that time, computers were very expensive and in their early development. They quickly became redundant in spite of their huge cost initially. Keeping up with technology was a drain on companies such as Argo and, along with changes in Banking, the stresses on small companies were great.
In 1985 Argo had eleven employees.
JM19 followed the JM16, on which is was based. In its various development stages 19B, 19C and 19D it was mainly used in Group C configuration with a variety of different Formula 1-derived engines from Zakspeed, Cosworth DFV and even an ex-Minardi Motori Moderni example fitted by Swiss driver Jean-Pierre Frey.
Martin Schanche (Norwegian) and Will Hoy (UK) were often the fastest pair in the C2 class of the World Sportscar Championship driving for 3 years (1986 - 1988). Sponsored by Lucky Strike they had a string of pole positions and fastest laps with a Zakspeed 1.8 turbo powered engine. JM19C cars were driven by various drivers, including Schanche/Hoy, in the Le Mans 24 hour during 1987/88
Still, in the U.S. the JM19 was continuing the successes of the JM16 in the hands of Jim Downing and other drivers. The engines fitted were Mazda Rotary, Buick, Ferrari or Chevrolet.
It was followed by the JM20 which was an attempt to make a C1 car affordable to private customers. But only two examples were built which went to a Swiss and a German owner who used them mainly for races in the Interseries. A third car with open bodywork was sold to the U.S. and fitted with a Chevrolet engine.
The last car of the Argo series was the JM21, a Group CN open sports car with a 3.0 litre Alfa Romeo engine. In total five units were built and used by several drivers mostly of German and Swiss origin for a variety of races, including mountain climbs.