Got a floundering model in your line-up? No sweat. Just slap the name of a random racing legend on it.
By Chris Chilton
1. Renault Clio Williams
Yes, yes, it was one of the greatest hot hatches ever, and did at least add 200cc, 13bhp and a wider track to the already handy 1.8 16v’s CV. But the F1 team’s involvement was limited to Frank’s
secretary faxing a copy of their logo to Renault’s contact at Prontaprint.
2. Fiat Stilo Schumacher
Gussied up version of duff Stilo hot hatch was built to commemorate Michael’s five World Championships for Ferrari. Schumi’s involvement? Zero, although strangely, during magazine group tests the Stilo repeatedly tried to ram the Civic Type R into concrete walls before blocking the road so it could be declared the winner.
3. Honda Civic Jordan
Piggy-backing on the Honda Jordan F1 team’s modest success, Honda painted 500 VTi Civics canary yellow, spilt a load more on the seats and screwed a signed Eddie Jordan plaque to the dash. And that was it: no engine tweaks, no suspension upgrades, not even a shag-pile roof appliqué.
4. Vauxhall Brabham Viva
Ford had already hopped into bed with Lotus to spice up the Cortina, and BMC’s Cooper deal had spawned rapid Minis, so Vauxhall teamed up with ’66 F1 champ Jack Brabham. An extra carb and reworked manifolds went under the Viva’s bonnet, while body stripes hinted at its Cobra-worrying 68bhp.
5. Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel
Struggling to see the link between Infiniti’s sponsorship of F1 and its B-team executive cars? So is Infiniti, which is why it ‘worked together’ with Vettel to create his ideal FX50, whose spec included a 30bhp power boost, bumping the top speed to 186mph – and presumably a bulging brown envelope of cash in the glovebox.
6. Rover 200 BRM
Bizarre taste-meltdown hot hatch-based attempt to milk memories of the mid-’60s Rover-BRM gas turbine racer. Started life as a rapid 200vi before gaining a limited-slip diff, uprated suspension, absurd tart’s-handbag quilted-red leather interior and that ‘distinctive’ ‘F1-inspired’ green paint and orange nose cone.
7. Citroen C4 By Loeb
You’d need to be suffering frontal loeb damage to believe Citroën’s nine-World Championship-winning rally ace had laid a finger on this thing. See Seb in the background of this picture? Even with the photographer pulling a wodge of fifties on a string towards the car, that’s as close as they could get him.
8. Mercedes A-class Häkkinen edition
At least Renault’s Clio and Megane F1 models were based on already credible performance cars. Not so this carbuncle. And given the A’s disastrous showing in the famous elk test, you’d think the Scando F1 champ would have flat refused to get involved. Contracts, Mika: next time read the small print.
9. Porsche 924 Sebring ’79
Named after the Floridian circuit in recognition of Porsche’s victory in the World Championship for Makes, this US-market runt of the Weissach litter had plenty of luxury kit, but buyers could even mate an arthritic three-speed auto to its emissions-strangled 110bhp VW motor. Less Moby Dick, more Finding Nemo.
10. Pontiac Grand Prix
Surely no car evokes mental images of the pinnacle of motorsport less ably than this whale. Another shameless attempt to cash in by the company that also deflowered the GTO badge – and bravely, given most blue-collar buyers probably thought homologation was something to do with legalising gay marriage.
>> Know any any weirder racing-inspired special editions? Add your suggesstions in the comments below