On the eve of the Williams’s 25th anniversary year (it was first seen in 1993), Adam Towler’s forensic insight into the model’s history is as fascinating as it is fantastic.
The 2.0 Williams moved things on from the 1.8 Clio 16v in so many ways and is also the car many remember for toppling Peugeot’s 205 GTI is king of the hot hatches.
Running through what £13,275 brought you at the time – 148bhp at 6000rpm, track widened by 34mm, revised gearbox ratios, racing front subframe etc – Towler describes the Williams’s iconic mix of 449 Metallic Sports Blue colour scheme and golden wheels “as close to hot hatch perfection as I think you could ever hope for”.
He points out that the car’s power output could be considered “comically weak” by modern standards but rightly emphasises “as ever, context paints an altogether different picture: the Williams weighs just 981kg and the big benefit of the new engine over the 1.8-litre lump was torque; not just peak but the fact 85 per cent of it arrives from 2500rpm…”
Quite rightly, too, he goes on to cover the controversy caused by Renault Sport in 1994 when it suddenly produced a Williams ‘2’ and again in 1995 with a ‘3’. Those who bought the original had believed they would be among only 390 souls in the UK to ever own a Williams. In fact so outraged were some when the ‘2’ was announced that an action group was formed!
A quarter of a century on those who still own an original might not be so fearful as to the value of their car as the amounts of money being parted with for one has increased dramatically of late.
As Towler summed up: “What really makes the Williams an icon is that even now, in 2017, it’s able to accelerate, brake, turn and corner at a level that’s genuinely not far off the current crop of supermini tearaways. For a 24-year-old car, that’s exceptional. In 1993 it must have been a thing of wonder.”
CLICK HERE to read the article online but, like we say, we highly advise owning the corresponding edition of evo. Like the Williams it could become a collector’s item…
Meanwhile we’d also recommend reading Dan Trent’s take on the equally iconic Clio V6 on the Goodwood.com website.
The V6 was a bonkers mid-engined 3.0-litre machine that, when launched in 2002, put many in mind (and still does) of the 5 Turbos from rallying’s fabled ‘Group B’ era of the early-mid Eighties.
The Phase 1 was a handful – as those who raced it in a European-based championship at the time would also testify. But this was improved significantly in the later Phase 2 model.
But as Trent comments: “The entire concept is just so gloriously outrageous I just don’t think you could have a dull journey in one.”