I t has been described as one of the most iconic moments in modern Formula 1 history. After dominating his home race at the 1991 British Grand Prix, the so-called “Lion” himself, Nigel Mansell, OBE, decided to extend a hand of chivalry to one of his most persistent rivals, the great Ayrton Senna. Though Mansell’s victory was never in doubt, having secured pole position in his Williams FW14 race car and led each of the subsequent fifty-nine laps, it was nonetheless a historic show of sportsmanship when he granted Senna a ride on the back of his car, an astounding feat not possible today.
For those who wish to have more than a trophy from what many consider to be the golden era of Formula 1, RM Sotheby’s has an enticing announcement. Headlining our always star-studded Monaco 2022 auction is a selection of extraordinary automobiles all personally consigned by none other than Nigel Mansell himself. These hand-selected lots include former Grand Prix winners from Ferrari and Williams, as well as sports-oriented examples which all represent Mansell’s status as a driving enthusiast first and foremost. A list of Mansell’s machines, all available on 14 May 2022:
1989 Ferrari 640
Estimate: €2,500,000 - €5,000,000 EUR
For Mansell, the opportunity to drive for Ferrari represented the pinnacle of a long, hard journey climbing the ranks of motorsport. According to this fascinating documentary from 1990, Mansell and his wife put their family heirlooms, guns, golf clubs, even their house on the line, so he could self-finance a stint in Formula 3. By the time he reached the upper echelon of competitive driving, Mansell had put himself on the line as well with a nearly career-ending back injury at the wheel of a Williams F1 car. Thankfully, Mansell’s tenacity won an admirer in Enzo Ferrari, who personally selected “The Lion” for Scuderia Ferrari, one of the final team decisions made by Il Commendatore and a moment that Mansell said he would never forget.
Mansell’s ride during his stint representing the prancing horse was this advanced 1989 Ferrari 640 racer, which made its competition debut in March of that year at the Brazilian Grand Prix. With its twelve-cylinder engine and future-forward, seven-speed, semi-automatic gearbox, the first of its kind to be fitted to a Ferrari, Mansell had pushed the 640 to heights never seen before in Maranello, promptly setting a new lap record at the Fiorano test circuit and going on to win his first outing at the Brazilian GP. This put Mansell in a league with only seven other Ferrari drivers to win outright during their debut race. This chassis, number 109, was the very car which Mansell raced at Monaco in 1989 and was gifted to the British driver after the season finale, joining his personal collection in Jersey in January 1990.
1991 Williams FW14
Estimate: €1,500,000 - €3,000,000 EUR
Though Mansell announced his retirement from Formula 1 in the middle of the 1990 season, an outpouring of support from fans and a formal offer from Frank Williams helped tempt him back to compete in the 1991 season for the storied British firm. A portion of the appeal came from a thoroughly revised race car in which to pilot, designed by the now-renowned aerodynamicist Adrian Newey and powered by the venerable 3.5 litre Renault V-10 engine. Though Newey had stints at F1 teams previously, including FORCE and March, this Williams FW14 was his greatest effort to date. In a period Autosport interview, Newey discusses implementing several novel advancements after wind tunnel testing at Southampton University; note the up-turned front-end wing plates, designed to channel air over the front tires.
Now properly appreciated as perhaps the height of British prowess in terms of 1990s motorsport technology, this chassis, FW14-5, was particularly successful when paired with Mansell. Chosen by Mansell in advance of the French Grand Prix on 7 July 1991, this example won its debut race, beating out French favorite Alain Prost. Mansell’s luck with chassis FW14-5 extended to include five outright victories and two finishes in second place. Though the team of Senna and McLaren took home the overall driver’s and constructor’s championships, with his overwhelming showing of good sportsmanship with this very chassis, Mansell will forever be remembered fondly by motorsport aficionados. Given this example by a grateful Williams team after the completion of the 1991 season, this example has been retained by Mansell ever since at his private collection in Jersey. Truly a piece of motorsport history.
1991 Birkin 7 Sprint
Estimate: €10,000 - €15,000 EUR | Offered Without Reserve
Transitioning from one of the most iconic F1 examples in recent memory to one of the all-time great sporting configurations in automotive history, this Birkin 7 Sprint was based around the legendary Lotus Seven. With a sprightly chassis, direct steering feel, and an open-top driving experience, the Seven and Super Seven embodied the lightweight, no-nonsense ethos expressed by Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Having a personal link to Chapman, as both a British motorsport figurehead and the first person to give Mansell a seat in Formula 1, Mansell must have felt an affinity for this classic Lotus design. One step further, as a member of the Lotus F1 team after Chapman’s death in late 1982, Mansell was in attendance at the Kaylami circuit in South Africa when the Birkin 7 Sprint saw its official debut in 1983. Like all the cars on this list, Mansell has confessed to having an emotional connection to this 1991 example and has expressed an interest in handing this example over in a personal, “one-to-one” manner to its new owner.
1990 iC Modulo M89
Estimate: €5,000 - €25,000 EUR | Offered Without Reserve
Whether he was riding shotgun with the Red Arrows flight team or driving what was, at the time, said to be the fastest golf cart in Great Britain, Mansell had a knack for getting the most out of any sporting excursion. Powered by a 750 cc BMW K75S engine and paired with a BMW five-speed manual gearbox, this iC Modulo M89 three-wheeler is sufficiently sprightly for its 390-kilogram curb weight. With an in-line two-seat configuration that would surely be familiar to Mansell after his stints flying jet airplanes, the Modulo was in fact conceived by a former engineer for Italian aerospace manufacturer Aero-Macchi. Carlo Lamattina, the Modulo’s creator, approached Mansell after he finished qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and presented him with this example, chassis no. 001, the first-ever produced. Having joined the Mansell collection in Jersey starting in November 1993, this Modulo amassed 3,000 km, which speaks to both the enjoyment that Mansell must have derived from its unique driving experience as well as the great British driver’s considerate collecting style. A distinctive example with unparalleled provenance.
2005 Reynard 2KI Grand Prix Masters Car
Estimate: €100,000 - €150,000 EUR | Offered Without Reserve
Though Mansell’s retirement from Formula 1 was finalized in 1995, it was not to be the end of the great driver’s participation in motorsport. Cast with an all-star lineup featuring several former F1 champions, the Grand Prix Masters was a single-make series which debuted in 2005 and was designed to put the talents of the drivers on display. All entrants were issued a 650-horsepower racer, weighing a mere 650 kilograms. To further emphasize the muscle and raw abilities of each entrant, no power steering, ABS, or traction control systems were fitted. The on-board powerplant was derived from a 3.5-litre Cosworth XB V-8 engine, providing sufficient force when operating such a lightweight race car. Mansell kept his tradition alive of taking top place on the podium on his first outing, winning the only race of the series in South Africa in 2005 in this example. The following year, Mansell repeated his success, winning in Qatar at the debut race. Though the format itself lasted only one more race, this Grand Prix Masters car was still beloved by Mansell and acquired as a part of his personal collection since 2007. A well-preserved, race-proven example.
Offered by Nigel Mansell himself on a stage at the luxurious Grimaldi Forum, mere meters from the track of the Monaco Grand Prix, these examples represent the heart of RM Sotheby’s Monaco 2022 auction. With several lots offered without reserve on 14 May and all entries representing essentially unrepeatable pedigree, having been owned by Mansell himself, this is one auction not to be missed.