Marketing new cars is some sort of dark art. However, broadening the appeal of a dullish family car by associating it with someone who is handy behind the wheel has to be an easy call. I mean, adding ‘Schumacher’ to the Fiat Stilo moniker at least grabs some attention.
Only 200 of them were made for the UK market in 2006, so I thought it might be a challenge to find one of these beauties as a used proposition. I mean, this side of a Seicento, it is the cheapest way to get into an Italian motor connected to the German Formula 1 world champion. I was tipped off that there’s a 104,000-mile one coming up for auction. It’s a bit well used around the edges, but it has a full service history, a fresh MOT and a new master cylinder. I’ve no idea what it will go for but I chanced across a three-owner example with a modest 46,000 miles that is up for £3250 in the classifieds. There didn’t seem too much wrong with it apart from a dodgy CD player. It looked quite fetching and contemporary in red with black alloys.
Those are the bargain basement of the F1-related hatch market and the premium-priced ones are the legendary Renault Clio Williams. You will pay solidly over £20k for one, maybe a lot more depending on the condition, which should be exemplary, and what limited-edition number it is. A Clio Williams 2 from 1995 is still something of a legend and the one I saw had done 73,000 miles and had had a recent cambelt change. It was up for £15,495 at a dealer. I also discovered a 1995 privately advertised example with 69,000 miles that would need checking out, but £12,000 certainly seems reasonable. Apparently, there are only 174 left out of the 444 made. Something of a bargain, then.
Why is F1 so special, though? Rally drivers do it in the dirt and in the dark. With that in mind, just imagine the rarity and charm of owning a Toyota Celica GT4 Turbo Carlos Sainz, which isn’t just a transfer on a bootlid but a rather special package, including an intercooler and lighter bodywork. I could not find one for sale in the UK right now, but a 1992 example with just under 120,000 miles that sold at auction for just over £9000 last June seems like spectacular value now.