Henri Julien was born in Gonfaron, France on the 18th September 1927 and is
best known as the founder of the AGS team that ran in Formula 1 between 1986
and 1991. But he started in the French 500cc movement.
In the late 1940s, Julien was running a small garage and filling station,
the Garage de l’Avenir in the Provencal village of Gonfaron.
In 1950 he
built a Simca-engined special that may have been called the JH1 (some
sources suggest the JH name only began with the formation of AGS). A
sequence of chassis were built over the next ten years, variously powered by
Panhard and BMW engines, though the later chassis were built to
Formula Junior specification. Details are sketchy, and we have no results for
Henri poses with JH1
In 1960 he purchased an Alpine Formula 3 car, but was not successful and
finally retired in 1965. But the arrival of Formula France in 1969 tempted
him back as a constructor. Julien established Automobiles Gonfaronnaises
Sportives with his former apprentice Christian Venderpleyn, who would remain
the team’s designer until 1988.
AGS continued with Formula France (renamed Formula Renault) and expanded
into Formula 3 with a series of rising French stars. In 1978 he progressed
to Formula 2 with Richard Dallest and later Philippe Streiff and Pascal
Fabre. The team scored several podiums, and a victory in the European
Formula 2 Championship in 1984.
Finally, Julien realised his ambition of Formula 1 at Monza in 1986, running
an old Renault chassis fitted with a Motori Moderni engine and called the
JH21C. The Ford-powered JH22 was a reasonable car, scoring the team’s first
point, but the team was under funded and small – legend has it that they had
only seven mechanics, and were still operating from the Garage de l’Avenir.
In 1988, Philippe Streiff returned to the team. He drove well, but in
testing for the 1989 season he was paralysed in an accident in Brazil.
Julien sold the team later that year. It carried on until 1991. It now
operates an F1 driving experience programme at the Circuit du Var
in Luc-en-Provence, and close to the original garage. Julien is honorary
was drawn back to his roots and became president of the Club Racer 500. In
1997 Julien and Bernard Boyer built a new 500cc car and established new
world record for class I at 222.557kmh (139mph) over one hour, finally
beating the record set by John Brise at
Montlhéry in October 1953 in the Arnott