This is the Ferrari 640 F1 car that was driven by Nigel Mansell to win the Brazilian and Hungarian Grands Prix in 1989. After the season, this car returned to Mansell, and it has been part of his personal collection ever since. .
Mansell has now decided to part with a number of cars from his collection, including this Ferrari, and they are due to go to auction in Monaco in mid-May.
Quick Facts – Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari 640 F1
- 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 during testing, Mansell would go on to claim victory in the first race of the season.
- Mansell’s relationship with Ferrari was fruitful, he was the last F1 driver to be personally selected by Enzo Ferrari before his death in 1988. Italian Ferrari fans nicknamed Mansell “il leone” (“the lion”) in because of his fearless driving style. .
- The Ferrari 640 was the first of the naturally aspirated Ferraris after the end of F1’s first turbo era, it was powered by a 3.5 liter 65º V12 called the Ferrari Tipo 035/5. This engine produced up to 660 hp 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 third place finish in the championship.
Nigel Mansell was a driver who rose through the ranks relying entirely on his driving skills, not money or connections. He started racing in karts, moved on to Formula Ford and from there moved on to Formula 3.
He broke his back twice while driving in the lower formulas before getting his first big break – Lotus’ Colin Chapman asked him to attend a test day driving the Lotus 79.
Mansell was still suffering from the effects of multiple broken vertebrae, and so he attended the test laden with painkillers. Despite his lack of experience driving an F1 car, Mansell impressed Chapman and landed himself a role as the team’s official test driver.
Chapman was so impressed with Mansell’s talent as a test driver that he gave him three race starts during the 1980 season.
After a difficult few years with Lotus, he joined Williams in 1985. In Williams-built competition cars, Mansell managed to finish second in the Drivers’ World 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 – at the end of the season Mansell would finish either on the podium or he would retire from the race, there was no in-between.
Later in his career, Mansell would return to Williams, winning the Drivers’ World Championship with them in 1992.
He then made the unusual decision to switch to racing in the American open-wheel CART series, where he would become the first person to win the championship in his freshman year.
He was also the first and only person in history to hold both the F1 title and the CART title.
The 1989 Ferrari 640 F1 shown here
The car you see here is chassis number 109 of the 1989 Ferrari 640 series. This is the car that was presented to the world in February 1989, the first new Ferrari Formula 1 car ever presented without the presence of Enzo Ferrari, as he had died a few months earlier.
The Ferrari 640 would be the first The Ferrari F1 car to use an electro-hydraulic semi-automatic transmission, although it offered quick gear changes, suffered from significant reliability issues.
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 return flight for half the race – believing the car would only last a few rounds.
No one was more surprised than Mansell himself when he won the race convincingly, instantly confirming the faith that the late Enzo Ferrari had in him.
By the end of the 1989 season, the Ferrari 640 would claim a total of 3 wins, 9 podiums and 4 fastest laps. The car would finish 3rd in the Constructors’ World Championship with 59 points.
Unreliability issues would prove ever-present throughout the season, Mansell had 7 retirements and teammate Gerhard Berger had 12.
After the end of the season Ferrari gifted the car you see here to Mansell, this 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 is due to go to auction with RM Sotheby’s on May 14 in Monaco, if you would like to find out more or register to bid you can click here to visit the list.
Images: Tom Gidden ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the Official Pinterest Blog, the Official eBay Motors Blog, BuzzFeed and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben in 2010, in the years since the site has become a global leader in the alternative and vintage automotive sector, with millions of readers around the world and several hundred thousand followers on social networks.