This week we bid farewell to F1 legend Sir Frank Williams, a pivotal figure whose legacy spans generations and will probably outlive us all.
Even though much of his legacy lays within the F1 sport, Williams actually branched out to other motorsport and also got involved in production cars.
Lets start off with my personal favourite;
1 The Group B Rally MG Metro
The MG Metro is not an exemplary British piece of motoring history, it was MG’s very own city car with a lack of fair and looks that only a mother could love. However during the peak of Williams’ F1 run, MG wanted to take this city car and participate in Group B rallying and approached Williams for a helping hand. Coined as the Metro 6R4, this car had absolutely nothing to do with its donor car. It featured 4 wheel drive and a 3.0 litre V6 (based on the on the F1 cossie DFV) mounted at the back.
Despite the efforts by MG and Williams, the car was critically underpowered compared to the likes of Audi, Peugeot and Lancia and ended up exiting Group B to participate in rallycross instead. The engine ended up getting two turbo chargers and find itself in a Jaguar XJ220 alongside Williams f1 paddle-shift gearbox, becoming the fastest production car ever made.
2 The Jaguar C-X75
In the late noughties, Williams got involved in the concept car scene, and having worked with Jaguar on the XJ220 (as previously mentioned) they were roped in on a concept car knows as the X-X75.
This car was a radical concept which was meant to be powered by gas turbines, but the idea was scrapped. The chassis was made from carbon fibre and performance wise, this car could do a 0-60 run in less that 3 seconds. Jaguar contacted Williams to put the car in production from 2011. This car inevitably never made it into production. It cost Jaguar and Williams a tonne of money in R&D which would reflect on the price tag. The design cues of the car ended up being used for the F-type and it did get some screen time in 007: Spectre.
3 The BTCC Renault Laguna
In mid-90s touring car racing was at its peak, and so was Williams in Formula 1. In 1995, Williams partnered with Renault to compete in the British Touring Car Championship. They used a Renault Laguna family car as their base fitted with a 280bhp naturally-aspirated engine and during its first official season this car took home 10 wins out of 25 races. This car also ended up competing in the Bathurst 1000.
However the high running costs inevitably lead to the demise of this venture, however amazing the capabilities of this naturally aspirated car ended up being.
4 The Renault Clio Williams
Whilst on topic on Renault, Williams also ventured into the world of production cars…well sort of. In 1993 the Williams F1 team was on a roll dominating the tracks sporting a Renault engine and with a French driver, Alain Prost, behind the wheel. The French car maker was so ecstatic that they decided to commemorate their success with a tuned version of their Clio hot-hatch. It had a custom dark blue paint job, gold wheels, and a 145bhp engine.
5400 were initially built, but the success and demand was so huge, that another 6700 units were built and sold. There were also a number of these cars converted into rally cars to compete in the group N.
Funnily enough Williams had absolutely nothing to do with the development or design of this car, they only loaned their name.
5 Nismo Williams
Back in 2013 Nissan and Williams Advanced Technologies announced their partnership with Nissan and worked mainly with NISMO, the performance orientated brand of Nissan, in the development of high performance road cars.
Williams and Nismo together incorporated cutting edge Formula One-based technologies, processes and F1 aerodynamics knowledge into Nissan’s high performance road cars.
Key projects included the Nissan GT-R NISMO Track Pack, the vehicle which set a Nurburgring four-seater production car lap record in 2013. This partnership is ongoing and the two brands keep working together on future Nismo cars.
6 Singer Williams
Singer are best known as the modifiers of all things 911. Their reimagined Porsches have gained a cult following and these creations have been fetching a heavy sum.
In 2017 Singer announced it joined forces with Williams Advanced Engineering (the same team that partnered with Nismo) to help them create their most advanced flat 6 to date. The Mezger-designed 3.6-litre flat-six was bored to 4.0-litres and featured titanium con-rods, a titanium exhaust system, dual overhead cams and a carbon fibre intake leading from the rear quarter windows to the engine.
This 500bhp engine was coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox, custom Brembo brakes and weighed less than 990 kg. Fan-fucking-tastic.
There is no doubt that Sir Williams’ legacy has proven to be a vibrant one and right up here you can see that it did not stop at F1. He will be remembered for his success in motorsport, for his undeniable dedication and love for cars.