The company had a reputation for high-volume production runs of its cars, the most well-known of which is its series of Formula Ford chassis, which have been at the forefront of that class of motorsport for over 20 years and led it to becoming the largest manufacturer of bespoke racing cars in the world.
Van Diemen was founded in 1973 by Ross Ambrose and Ralph Firman Sr., whose children Marcos Ambrose, Ralph Firman Jr. and Natasha Firman have since gone on to have successful racing careers. The company's name comes from the island of Tasmania, Australia, which was formerly known as Van Diemen's Land and is where Ambrose was born and lived before moving to the UK to co-found the company.
As well as Formula Ford, Van Diemen builds cars for Formula Ford 2000, Sports 2000 and Star Mazda series. The company's purpose-built manufacturing facility was located on the grounds of Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit, allowing racing teams to test the cars literally right off the production line.
In 2002, Van Diemen International was bought by Don Panoz and is now part of his Élan Motorsport Technologies group out of Braselton, Georgia. Its manufacturing has now been fully absorbed into Panoz' Élan Motorsport Technologies with the successor designs to its Formula Fords now built in Brasselton, Georgia. The current DP08 F2000 open wheeler and DP02 IMSA Lites sports car are referred to as Élan Van Diemens.