If the 1980s saw the invention of the hot hatch - recipe: small car + bigger engine = even bigger fun - the 1990s saw that formula perfected, with a dash of added sophistication. Renault, in particular, repeatedly capitalised on its sporting success in rallying and Formula One to turn an honest little shopper into a Sunday B-road laugh-fest.
Designed in a time before electronics intervened in every driver decision, these analogue miniature masterpieces reward the person behind the wheel with real thrills. We've found a swift little Renault Clio Williams 3 (available at Fast Classics) from that golden era to whet your appetite. Let the smiles begin.
Gold alloys mark this Clio out as something very special. Renault produced a trio of Clio Williams editions to celebrate its partnership with the Williams Formula One team, which the Regie's engines powered to multiple world championships. Beyond the Williams badge, the storied British team had little or nothing to do with these hot hatches. Renault's engineers didn't let that get in the way of providing a car that Nigel Mansell himself would have enjoyed throwing around Silverstone.
The Monaco Blue colourway and those alloys - here in showroom condition - were chosen deliberately to evoke the Williams livery of the era, and together with the bulging wheel arches and added air intake to the bonnet, suggest an air of brooding speed. The Williams boasts firmer suspension over the standard Clio 16V hot hatch, as well as a more efficient - and no doubt somewhat louder - exhaust system and an improved gearbox.
This little Clio is one of just 1,600 Williams 3 editions produced, which makes it desirable enough. Its condition seals the deal. The interior, for instance, is impeccable, as befits a car that's covered less than 80,000 miles in 27 well-cared for years. The engine bay presents in equally impressive condition and the service files show specialist care, important on these highly strung little cars. Values of these highly collectable Williams-badged hatches are only going to increase, and this one is truly special. Mr Mansell, start your engine.
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