This is the Ferrari 640 F1 car that was driven by Nigel Mansell to wins in both the Brazilian and Hungarian Grands Prix in 1989. After the season this car went home with Mansell, and it’s been in his personal collection ever since.
Mansell has now decided to part with a number of cars from his collection, including this Ferrari, and they’re due to roll across the auction block in Monaco in mid-May.
Fast Facts – Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari 640 F1 Car
- The Ferrari 640 Formula 1 car was introduced for the 1989 season, it was the first Ferrari with a semi-automatic gearbox and despite reliability issues in testing, Mansell would go on to claim victory in the first race of the season.
- Mansell’s relationship with Ferrari was a fruitful one, he was the last F1 driver to be personally selected by Enzo Ferrari before his passing in 1988. The Italian Ferrari fans nicknamed Mansell “il leone” (“the lion”) due to his fearless driving style.
- The Ferrari 640 was the first of the naturally aspirated Ferraris after the end of the first F1 turbo era, it was powered by a 3.5 liter 65º V12 called the Ferrari Tipo 035/5. This engine produced up to 660 bhp at 13,000 rpm.
- During the 1989 season the Ferrari 640 would win three races, claim 9 podium places, set four fastest laps, and give Ferrari a 3rd pace finish in the championship.
Nigel Mansell was a driver who came up through the ranks relying entirely on driving skill, not money or connections. He started out racing in karts, moved up to Formula Ford and from there moved into Formula Three.
He twice broke his back driving in the lower Formulas before he got his first big break – Colin Chapman at Lotus asked him to attend a test day driving the Lotus 79.
Mansell was still suffering the effects of multiple broken vertebra, and so he attended the test loaded up on painkillers. Despite his lack of experience behind the wheel of an F1 car Mansell impressed Chapman, and landed himself a role as official team test driver.
So impressed was Chapman with Mansell’s talent as a test driver that he gave him a trio of race starts in the 1980 season.
After a difficult few years with Lotus he moved to Williams in 1985, in the competitive cars being built by Williams, Mansell managed to come second in the World Driver’s Championship twice, in 1986 and 1987.
In 1989 he moved to Ferrari where he shocked the world by winning his first race for the team driving the Ferrari 640. The car proved fast but unreliable – by the end of the season Mansell would either end up on the podium or he would retire from the race, there was no in-between.
Later in his career Mansell would move back to Williams, winning the World Driver’s Championship with them in 1992.
He then took the unusual step of moving over to race in the American open-wheeled CART series, where he would become the first person to ever win the championship in their first year.
He was also the first and only person in history to hold both the F1 title and the CART title at the same time.
The 1989 Ferrari 640 F1 Car Shown Here
The car you see here is chassis #109 of the Ferrari 640 series from 1989. This is the car that was shown to the world in February of 1989, the first new Ferrari Formula 1 car to ever be shown without Enzo Ferrari in attendance, as he had died a few months earlier.
The Ferrari 640 would be the first Ferrari F1 car to use an electro-hydraulic semi-automatic transmission, though it offers fast gear changes it suffered from significant reliability problems.
This transmission had proven unreliable in testing, so much so that after the first race of the season Mansell joked that he had booked his flight home for halfway through the race – believing that the car would only last a few laps.
No one was more surprised than Mansell himself when he went on to win the race convincingly, instantly vindicating the faith that the late Enzo Ferrari had had in him.
By the end of the 1989 season the Ferrari 640 would take a total of 3 wins, 9 podiums, and 4 fastest laps. The car would finish 3rd in the World Constructor’s Championship with 59 points.
The issues with unreliability would prove ever present throughout the season, Mansell had 7 retirements and his teammate Gerhard Berger had 12.
After the end of the season Ferrari gifted the car you see here to Mansell, it would be the second Ferrari in his collection as Enzo Ferrari had given him a brand new Ferrari F40 as a signing bonus when he joined the team.
Mansell is now parting with a small number of cars from his personal collection including chassis #109.
It’s due to roll across the auction block with RM Sotheby’s on the 14th of May in Monaco, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images: Tom Gidden ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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