10 DEC. Being a sponsor in F1 helps flog everything from bottled water to private jets and of course, road cars.
F1 is glamorous (apparently) and this glamour rubs off on those around it. I mean even Marcus Ericsson looks quite trendy sometimes.
So, having a road car version of your favourite F1 team is going to make you look rather cool isn’t it?
Well it certainly does if you have the cash for a McLaren F1, a Ferrari F40 or that hyper-car thing Adrian Newey came up with. Otherwise the cool factor really depends on your budget…
Throughout their time in F1, if a car stood still long enough, the Lotus team would happily slap a badge on it. Many were rather rubbish, though they did look nice when stuck on the hard shoulder of the motorway, which was often where you’d see one.
This one however, is something of a gem.
On sale from 1963 to 1970, made by Ford in collaboration with Lotus genius Colin Chapman, this was not only a stunner but boy could it shift. A road car that also raced in touring cars and was pretty handy at rallying too.
Rare as hens teeth, if you see one on sale, sell your mother to get it.
VERDICT – Beyond cool, positively Arctic.
FIAT STILO SCHUMACHER
You can’t polish a turd but Fiat found you could put Michael Schumacher’s name on it.
How he let them get away with this is unbelievable. An embarrassing attempt by Fiat to bolster a flagging market for the Stilo. It didn’t work, since this model of Fiat is now recognised as one of the worst selling cars ever produced.
VERDICT – An insult to the great man’s name.
ROVER 200 BRM
Launched in 1998, around 1,000 of these awful things came off the Rover production line.
Quite why anybody thought having a Rover associated with an F1 team that had ceased to exist twenty odd years ago was a good idea is not known.
Having it painted in the colours of the BRM team apparently justified the eye-watering price of £18,000, when a regular Rover 200 sold for £11,000. The price was soon reduced to £16,000 and then again to £14,000, in an effort to get rid of the damn things.
VERDICT – Your grandad might like one.
LOTUS S2 ESPRIT
In 1978, Lotus released a special edition of their Esprit to mark them and Mario Andretti winning that year’s F1 world championship.
In the iconic ‘John Player Special’ colours, this was definitely one of their better efforts. It was due to have ‘JPS’ in the name but the end of the sponsorship of the F1 team by the fag company put paid to that.
Good enough for Mario Andretti and James Bond, the Esprit was the stuff of dreams in the seventies.
VERDICT – 1970’s boy bedroom poster stuff. That and Farrah Fawcett.
RENAULT CLIO WILLIAMS
Built back when Williams actually used to win races, the Clio Williams is one of the better F1-road-car marriages.
Williams had little, if anything, to do with the design of this version of the Clio, that job instead being given to Renault’s motorsport division and you have to say they did a fabulous job of it.
In 1996 it even made an appearance as the F1 Safety Car.
Now THAT is a decent F1 link for a change.
VERDICT – Want! Want! Want!
VAUXHALL VIVA BRABHAM
Having seen the effect of a bit of F1 glitter on the Lotus Cortina and Mini Cooper, in the late 1960’s, Luton’s finest thought they’d have a bash.
You can imagine the meeting:
“Our Viva is a bit dull, so why not name one after a triple F1 champion and then put a few stickers on it but hey, leave it at that – no extra grunt or anything”.
VERDICT – We can only hope that Black Jack got a decent cheque for his involvement.
FIAT SEICENTO SPORTING MICHAEL SCHUMACHER LIMITED EDITION
If ever it was as clear as day that a name had been cobbled together by a large, disparate committee, then this is it.
The stupidly long name aside, the FSSMSLE, knocked up in 2001 to cash in on Schuey’s Ferrari success, is pretty much just a regular Seicento, with chrome interior surrounds and Schumacher’s logo on the boot.
They had the greatest F1 driver of the day on their books but frankly, just could not be that bothered.
VERDICT – About as cynical a marketing ploy as it gets.
RENAULT ESPACE F1
OK, this probably shouldn’t be on the list, as when Renault built it in 1995, it was hardly ever going to make it to your local Regie dealership.
Essentially, an F1 car with a modified Espace body on it, this, like the F1 engined Ford Supervan, was for publicity purposes only.
So why is it on the list?
Any excuse to hear it go. Listen with the volume turned up!
VERDICT – Ooh La La!