Updated for our 2017 Grand Prix Advent Calendar, it’s one of our favourite articles from the year.
There’s an old saying when it comes to car manufacturers competing in motorsport; “win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday”. With the money some companies put into running an F1 team they have to recoup a part of it somehow, so branding their road going vehicles with drivers names and sponsor logos seems a logical choice. Here are a few favourites that have been sold to the general public.
Williams Renault Clio
The potent combination of Renault engines and Williams chassis saw the team dominate F1 in the early 1990s. Renault decided to celebrate their success with a special edition Clio, sporting dark blue paint and golden wheels, producing an instant iconic hot hatch and a long lasting cult classic.
Fiat Seicento Schumacher
Ferrari’s celebration for winning their first title in 21 years was a specially badged, limited to 1000 run of Fiat’s tiny city car, complete with Schumacher signature badges on the rear and side and full certificate of authenticity.
The German would go on to establish himself as a Ferrari legend, but it was a small thank you to begin with. But then it came with a great advert, so all is forgotten.
Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50 Edition
Before Cooper became a performance model badge for Mini, it was a name synonymous with F1. For the 50th anniversary of John Cooper winning the F1 constructors’ championship in 1959, and coincidently on the same year the Mini was celebrating its half-century, the two came together for this special edition.
Infiniti FX Vettel Edition
Laughably billed as “the perfect sports car” in the brochure, this heavy duty SUV was tinkered with and redesigned by Vettel himself to help boost performance thanks to heavy use of carbon fibre. This also jacked the price up – a full spec version cost over $100,000.
Renault Megane RenaultSport 230 F1 Team R26
Back-to-back world championships for any manufacturer is enough to boast about, and Renault did exactly that by pumping their popular hatchback with steroids, smearing it in matte paint, and tattooing it with crazy graphics. To this day it’s still popular with track day enthusiasts.
Mercedes-AMG SL 63 World Championship Collector’s Edition
The simmering Cold War between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton boiled over in the 2014 season, so to help calm the waters Mercedes allowed both to design their own roadsters, maybe to prevent finger-pointing over who was the German marque’s favourite driver. For us, Rosberg’s pure white trumps Hamilton’s black-and-gold combination, but as you had to purchase both at once – and have to be on an invite list in the first place – it doesn’t really matter.
Fiat Stilo Schumacher GP
A step up from the aforementioned Seicento, these Ferrari red Stilo GP editions were issued the same year as Schumacher took his fifth straight F1 crown, tuned by Prodrive and boosted by an updated suspension and exhaust package. It even came with yet another cheesy advert, this time adding Rubens Barrichello into the mix.
Even with the great man’s name attached, the Stilo failed to turn a profit as a model for Fiat and was discontinued.
Honda Civic Jordan
Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team was at its giant-killing height in 1999, the year this Honda special edition hit showrooms. Almost as much as a cult classic as the Williams Renault Clio, Honda’s bright yellow Civic had Jordan logos stitched into the seats and has become a bit of a collector’s item for people in car modification circles. Despite this link-up, Honda left Jordan at the end of 2002 to back BAR and ultimately become a constructor in their own right.
Caterham Seven Kamui Edition
Because if you want a madcap single-seater road car with no roof, windscreen or passenger seat, you want to go all out and have Kamui Kobayashi’s name on it.
Japan is a big market for the unique Caterham, and a run of ten special editions for favourite F1 son have become collector’s items on the open market.
McLaren P1 Alain Prost Edition
One of the sport’s greats was given a celebration to his successful career at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, by having the McLaren Special Operations team deck out the company’s newest hypercar with the colours of Prost’s helmet design to honour his three titles with the Woking team.
Mercedes-Benz A160 Hakkinen and Coulthard Editions
Starting the trend of “driver gets his name on a city car”, Mercedes went even as far as to gift Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard their own personalised versions of their A-Class model.
No official figures were released over the car’s run, but with Hakkinen winning two championships after the first editions were released in 1998, he has to have sold more, right?
Of course, it was all about teamwork for McLaren and Mercedes, as shown in the below advert.
Rover 200 BRM
How do you make an ailing, vintage British car marque more appealing to customers? How about a homage to a defunct Formula One team that was successful 30 years previously?
All sarcasm aside, a Brooklands Green paint job with the flash of BRM orange on the front of a road car, just like Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart used to have on their stylish ’60s F1 cars, looked very, very cool. But with everything that was popular in the late 1990s, it was all a bit tacky once you got down to the business end of driving it. You can’t blame them for trying, however.