Words: Simon de Burton | Photography: RM Sotheby’s
Pssst….want to buy the world’s fastest (and possibly most famous) taxi?
If so, head to Monaco on May 14, where RM Sotheby’s will offer the Williams FW14 F1 car aboard which a victorious Nigel Mansell famously gave the late Ayrton Senna a ride back to the pits after the latter’s McLaren ran out of fuel towards the end of the 1991 British Grand Prix.
The car, chassis number FW14-5, took Mansell to no fewer than five GP victories in the ’91 season, notably at Catalunya where he and Senna staged an epic wheel-to-wheel battle that went down in history as one of the most dramatic of the decade.
Broadly estimated to fetch €1.5m-€3m (despite being without an engine), the Williams is one of five cars being sold by Mansell in a collection clear-out that could raise more than €8m (£6.7m).
According to RM Sotheby’s, the five have been housed in Mansell’s private museum in Jersey for decades, but he now wants them to go to new, appreciative owners instead of continuing to lie dormant.
As unique and important as the Williams FW14 is, the star of the line-up is likely to be the Ferrari 640, chassis 109, that Mansell raced to victory in both the Brazilian and Hungarian rounds of the 1989 F1 championship, having become the last driver to be personally recruited to the Scuderia by Enzo Ferrari himself.
Mansell was dubbed ‘Il Leone’ by the Tifosi for the courageous style in which he drove the 640, which was the first of the marque’s F1 cars to have a paddle-shift, semi-automatic gearbox. Chassis 109 proved to be a key element of what was a tumultuous season for the British driver, who was gifted the car immediately after the final race in Adelaide.
Not run since being shipped to the UK more than 32 years ago, it remains exactly as it was when it was crated up in Australia – and it is tipped to realise €2.5m-€5m (£2.1m-£4.2m).
Also on offer is the Reynard 2KI (€100,000-€150,000/£83,800-£125,800) with which Mansell won the inaugural GP Masters series in 2005/06. Based on a 2000 Champ Car, it’s powered by a 3.5-litre Cosworth XB-derived engine and has a top speed of 200 mph – but it lacks driver aids such as ABS, power steering or traction control, since the aim of the series was to demonstrate the raw driving skill of the former F1 racers taking part.
The remaining two cars are a 1991 Birkin 7 Sprint with which Mansell was presented at the time of the 1983 South African GP when he was driving for Lotus (€10,000-€15,000/£8500-£12,600) and, the oddest offering of all, a 1992 iC Modulo three-wheeler.
Created by Italian designer Carlo Lamattina, the Kevlar-clad trike is powered by a 750cc, three-cylinder BMW engine and was the first example produced. Lamattina presented it to Mansell after the qualifying round of the Italian GP in 1992, and it will be sold complete with photographs of the two men taken at the circuit, another of Mansell behind the wheel and a letter of authenticity from the designer. It could sell for up to €25,000 (£20,960).
More at rmsothebys.com