Nigel Mansell's 1991 Williams that carried Senna sells for €4m —despite lack of engine


Nigel Mansell auctioned his 1991 Williams FW14 — the famous Senna taxi that won five GPs — for more than €1m more than the estimate, along with his race-winning Ferrari 640, which sold for €3.6m

Senna taxi driven by Nigel Mansell at British Grand Prix 1991

Mansell picked up Senna as he celebrated victory in the 1991 British GP

Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

Nigel Mansell’s 1991 British GP-winning Williams, which he used to pick up a stranded Ayrton Senna, has been auctioned for €4.055m (£3.45m), even though the chassis was without its V10 engine.

The Williams FW14, chassis No5 was gifted to Mansell at the end of the 1991 season and is the very same one that he drove to five race wins that season. He has owned it until last weekend’s RM Sotheby’s auction in Monaco, where it sold for more than €1m (£850,000) above its estimate.

Mansell’s 1989 Ferrari 640, which he drove to victory on his debut with the team, was sold — with engine — at the same sale for €3.605m (£3.07m).

His Williams is arguably most famous for its role as the Senna taxi after the British Grand Prix when Brazilian’s McLaren ran out of fuel on the final lap. “I could see he was getting a hard time from the fans and I thought ‘Well I’ll give him a lift, see if I can drop him off’,” Mansell previously told Motor Sport.

The image has since become iconic; a display of sportsmanship among championship rivals, which has rarely been seen in recent years.

Mansell Senna side by side in barcelona 1991

Sparks fly between Mansell and Senna in Barcelona

Grand Prix Photo

Renault having reclaimed its V10 engine before the car was delivered to Mansell, leaving the car unable to run, but it didn’t deter bidders in the Mansell Collection sale who sent the price well beyond the estimated range of  €1.5m and €3m (£1.25m-£2.5m).

Mansell used the chassis in all five of his Formula 1 victories that year, beginning in Magny Cours at the French Grand Prix, followed by Silverstone, then Hockenheim and Monza.

It starred in another of that year’s memorable images as he fought side-by-side with Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix, which he went on to win as well.

1991 Williams FW14

Chassis No5, carrying Red 5, won five times in Mansell’s hands

RM Sotheby's

The car also featured in the two incidents that cost Mansell that year’s title: a wheel fell off after a pitstop in the Portuguese Grand Prix, resulting in Mansell’s disqualification when mechanics worked on the car in the pitlane. Then he crashed out at the Japanese Grand Prix confirming Senna as champion at Suzuka.

From the archive

The Ferrari carried Mansell to a victorious start with the team, as the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix. He also used chassis No109 used it to win in Hungary after qualifying 12th and taking the lead with a sensational pass on Senna. His no-holds-barred driving forged a reputation as Il Leone amongst the Tifosi.

But the advanced design by John Barnard, which featured Ferrari’s first semi-automatic gearbox, proved unreliable and Mansell retired more often than he finished, with another Portuguese GP disqualification — after this time reversing in the pitlane — not helping.

The sale price was within its estimated range of €2.5m and €5m (£2.1m-£4.2m).

Nigel Mansell 1989 Hungarian GP

Mansell fights back to win in Hungary '89

Grand Prix Photo

1989 Ferrari 640

Chassis No109 took Mansell to both of his 1989 race wins

RM Sotheby's

The V12 engine remains installed but the car hasn’t been run since being delivered to Mansell in January 1990. The wheels and the tyres from its last race remain with the car.

Mansell also sold a further three cars from his collection: a 2005 Grand Prix Masters Reynard V8, with which he won two races in the 2005 Grand Prix Masters Series; a Lotus Seven-based Birkin 7 Sprint and the quirky iC modulo M89 two-seater, powered by a BMW motorbike engine. These sold for a combined total of just under €100,000 (£85,000).