With the first round of the 2022 Grand Prix season due to start in a week, could there be a better time to reveal a collection of cars sold by a former F1 world champion who has often been ranked among the top drivers? all time ?
Probably not, which is why RM Sotheby’s asked Classic Driver to report that British motorsport hero Nigel Mansell is unloading five cars from his personal collection – including the 1991 Williams FW14 which became world famous for having allowed for one of the most enduring manifestations of sportsmanship in the history of motor racing. The cars are being sold by Florida-based Mansell from his private museum in Jersey and will be the stars of the May 14 RM Sotheby’s sale in Monaco, which will take place in the principality over the historic grand prix weekend.
The auction house says Mansell feels it’s time the prized cars, including four he’s owned for more than 30 years, were given a new lease of life – and has even offered to meet the respective buyers to advise them on their future use. . Combined presale estimates for the five cars range from a low of €4.1m to a high of €8.2m – the wide range explained by their unique combination of historical significance and provenance of “motorsport royalty”. And, on the basis that the FW14B ‘Red Five’ in which Mansell won five GPs during his title-winning 1992 season fetched £2,700,000 three years ago (although not owned by the pilot) , the upper prediction is not infeasible. In order of importance, here are the five Mansell-owned cars up for grabs.
Chassis number 5, “Red 5” and five wins – it’s all in the numbers for FW14-5. Considered one of the most technically advanced F1 cars of its time, Adrian Newey’s brilliant opening design for Williams featured advanced aerodynamics, innovative active suspension and the first ever semi-automatic sequential gearbox. by the team. Although it carried over the 3.5-litre V10 engine from the previous year’s FW13B, the combination of Newey’s genius and Mansell’s rugged driving style proved hard to beat, with the result that “It Leone” (as the Italians called him) achieved a remarkable five wins in this particular car during the ’91 season.
He first took the checkered flag at Magny Cours on July 7, followed a week later by a home win at the British Grand Prix where he crossed the finish line 42.293 seconds ahead. on Gerhard Berger, second. The FW14-5 winning streak continued in Germany, Italy and Spain – where, on a wet and slippery circuit in Catalonia, Mansell and Senna staged an epic wheel-to-wheel battle in which the sparks literally flew . But it was back to the British Grand Prix where the eternal FW14-5 image was formed – when Mansell stopped on his winning lap to give a ‘taxi ride’ to the beleaguered Senna , whose McLaren ran out of fuel on the 58th lap. The setback didn’t stop Senna from winning his third world championship that year, but in recognition of Mansell’s impressive second-place finish, Williams gifted him FW14-5 – although without its engine which had to be returned to Renault. The car is estimated between 1.5 and 3 million euros.
1989 Ferrari 640, chassis 109
Described by RM Sotheby’s as “exactly as it was when driven by Mansell at the Australian GP in Adelaide in 1989”, this Ferrari 640 took Mansell to victory at the Brazilian and Hungarian rounds, helping him finish the season in fourth place. and win the Scuderia third in the constructors’ championship. After joining Ferrari in 1988 to replace Michele Alboreto after his first three-year stint at Williams, Mansell turned out to be the very last member of the team to be personally recruited by Enzo Ferrari himself – an occasion that Il Commendatore marked by presenting the British driver with an F40 as a “welcome gift”.
The Tifosi’s embraced Mansell wholeheartedly and nicknamed him “Il Leone” because of his brave approach to driving the V-12-powered 640, which was the first Ferrari F1 to feature the revolutionary car. soon to be- ubiquitous paddle shifters, semi-automatic gearbox. Mansell quickly got to grips with the new 640, setting a new record at the Fiorano circuit during a test session in January before chassis 109 became the first Ferrari team car to be unveiled at the press without the presence of Enzo Ferrari – he had died six months ago. earlier.
Chassis 109 proved to be a key part of what was a tumultuous F1 season for Mansell, with the manufacturer presenting it to him straight after the final race in Adelaide, from where it was shipped to his personal collection (then located in England). The car is not believed to have been driven for 32 years, but is 100% complete and ready to be kept in its ‘last run’ condition – or returned to track service. The Ferrari is estimated at 2.5 to 5 million euros.
2005 GP Masters Reynard 2KI
Mansell’s glittering F1 career may have officially come to an end at the 1995 Spanish Grand Prix after 15 seasons, but his enthusiasm for racing never wavered, as evidenced by his stint in the CART Indy World Series in 1993 which he duly won on his debut. year, making him the only person to hold both the World Drivers’ Championship title and the US Open Wheel National Championship title. After a decade in the spotlight, he returned to the track in 2005 as a backer and driver in the new Grand Prix Masters series for former F1 drivers – in which he twice drove this Reynard 2KI to victory, first in Kyalami (the only race of the season) and again in Qatar in the opening of the 2006 season.
The car is based on a 2000 Reynard Champ Car and is powered by a 3.5-litre derivative of the Cosworth XB V8 engine, which is claimed to give a potential top speed of 200mph – all without “driving aids” such as ABS, power steering or traction control, the aim being to highlight the raw know-how of the “masters”. Offered in its original livery from the 2006 season, the car is said to be complete but will require a complete (and inexpensive) re-commissioning before being used again in anger. The car is estimated between 100,000 and 150,000 euros.
1991 Birkin 7 Sprint
Mansell may have reached the pinnacle of his profession in the most advanced racing machines of his day – but even the best drivers in the world enjoy the back-to-basics thrill of being behind the wheel of a car based on the legendary Colin Chapman’s Lotus Seven design. This partly explains why Mansell acquired this South African-built Birkin 7 Sprint directly from the manufacturer, which was created in 1982 by John Watson, a direct descendant of the legendary Bentley Boy Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin.
Watson had long been a fan of the Lotus 7, so he decided to build his own version to sell to like-minded enthusiasts – and launched it at the 1983 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami in the presence of Chapman’s widow, Hazel, and the Lotus F1 team. driver at the time – Elio de Angelis and, of course, Mansell. He is said to have driven the Birkin quite often in the UK but, as with other cars in the collection, it has now been dormant for many years. It is estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 euros.
1992 iC Modulo
Never heard of it? No, neither do we, but the three-wheeled Modulo is said to deliver stunning performance thanks to its combination of a three-cylinder BMW K75S motorcycle engine and a total weight of just 390 kilos. It was created by Italian designer Carlo Lamattina and put into production in 1988, featuring a Kevlar-reinforced body, independent front suspension and a 28-litre fuel tank that gave it a range of up to 560 km/335 miles.
Mansell acquired this 1990 example directly from Lamattina, who presented it to him after the qualifying round of the Italian GP in 1992. It will be sold complete with photographs of the two men taken on the circuit, another of Mansell at the steering wheel of the Modulo and a letter from the designer confirming its authenticity and that it previously belonged to him, being the first example produced. Suitable for road or track use, it has only covered 3,000 km from new and should sell for between 5,000 and 25,000 euros.
Photos: Tim Gidden / Sutton Images