Renault Clio Williams
In 1992 a chap named Nigel Mansell won the Formula 1 drivers championship in a Renault powered Williams F1 car. Williams also won the constructors title, and Renault, suitably chuffed, decided it wanted to splash out on a road car to celebrate. Enter the Clio Williams in 1993.
Although the car is badged as a Williams, the F1 team actually had nothing to do with its development, that task was taken on by Renaults own crack motorsport division Renaultsport, and it has to be said, they know a thing or two about making cars go well.
The Clio Williams was to be a limited run of just 400 cars. Based on the first generation Clio, the car was a further development of the already “hot” Clio 16 Valve which had introduced the iconic flared arches and bonnet hump. The 16v, a natural successor to the Renault 5 GT Turbo, had the 1.8 litre engine (F7p) from the Renault 19 16v (it was a squeeze, hence the bonnet bulge and vent), wider track, revised and lowered suspension and with 137 bhp and a weight of 975kg was quick, 0-60 took 7.3 seconds. In Group A rally form, the works Clio 16V was said to be 1.5 seconds a mile quicker than the fire breathing Group B Renault 5 Maxi Turbo, such was the progress in chassis and engine development. Since the class rules allowed up to 2.0 litres, Renault decided to homologate another Clio, this time with a 2.0 litre engine, creating the F7R.
For the new Williams, Renaultsport took the base 16v car and completely reworked the 1.8 litre engine. Bigger valves, more aggresive cams, new crankshaft, larger bore and stroke, new exhaust manifold and oil cooler all intended to produce more torque and ultimately more power (150 bhp @ 6100 rpm). Tweaks to the suspension, transmission and a new blue themed interior that included a numbred plaque completed the first generation Williams.
After the initial run of 400 UK RHD “homologation” cars, each with it’s identifying numbered plaque had ended and quickly sold out, Renault then annoyed the original buyers in 1994 buy releasing another batch of 400 RHD cars, called the Williams 2, then again to add insult to injury they released the final batch of 400 Williams 3 cars in 1995.
All Clio Williams’ are unmistakable in their appearance, the 449 Sports Blue body (the Williams 3 wore a slightly lighter shade of blue to the previous cars) with Gold Speedline alloys is almost iconic now. The press loved the car, it was almost universally acclaimed to be the very best hot hatch of it’s time, even pipping the 205 GTi to the title of hot hatch king.
Nearly 20 years on the “Willy” is still a benchmark hot hatch. Wth it’s lightweight, stiff chassis, perky 2.0 litre engine, 0-60 in 7.8 seconds and responsive, dynamic handling, the Williams is a future appreciating classic, and a driving god.
Wikipedia Clio entry
Cardomain Ben Hulmes Williams Info
RanWhenParked Williams Clio history
Pistonheads Shed Of The Week
WilliamsClio.co.uk Buyers guide
WilliamsClio.co.uk Williams 1, 2, 3 differences
Octane specs page
Wikipedia F7R entry