The Renault Clio Williams has always had hot hatch credibility thanks to the development input from the Williams F1 team. An F1-endorsed, limited-run hot hatch with gold wheels was just what most boy/girl racers wanted in the mid-1990s.
Those same racers, now fully developed, are the people who covet good examples today.
Renault Clio Williams
Top speed 134mph
Gearbox 5-spd manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
The VIN plate is located to the left of the slam panel. Check the rivets and make sure all the numbers match the V5 document – thieves targeted these cars regularly. Rust on the rear arches is common, likewise where the wings meet the bumpers. The fuel filler neck can tell you a lot about the state of the arch, so inspect carefully inside.
As with any classic hot hatch, assume that it’s no stranger to ditches – confirm all the panel gaps are correct. Also scrutinise the boot floor under the carpet – ripples indicate a rear-end shunt. Inspect the doors for rust and, while they’re open, make sure the Williams kick-plates are present. The B-post/sill join is another rot spot – stone chips can develop, so check carefully along the length of both sills. Williams wheels are known for making contact with the arch, but significant damage indicates bigger wheels have been fitted in the past.
First job is to make sure that the correct 2.0-litre engine is fitted. Obvious tell-tales are a thin tubular exhaust manifold and a yellow dipstick with a white dot. These are by no means foolproof, but if a car lacks them, walk away. Rocker cover gaskets leak – not an expensive fix, but you can haggle if there are signs. The engine should idle evenly at 900rpm.
Make sure there’s no oil in the coolant and that it does not contain corrosion. Rusty coolant indicates previous neglect and potential overheating problems. Check the bulkhead and inspect the heat shield. These aren’t cheap to replace.
Look at the ECU under the jack in the scuttle panel – water ingress here could mean idling issues. Test all the electrics – the main beam switch and electric windows are common failings. And check the door cards – Williams 1 and Williams 2 cars didn’t have audio system speakers, and these were the only models with these cards. If they’ve been cut, prepare for a long wait for originals.
Accelerate to 4000rpm on the test drive and then lift off, watching the gear lever for wobble. If this is excessive, new mounts are needed. Jumping out of gear means a new gearbox may be required.
Don’t worry about noisy power steering – the worst case scenario is that you need to either bleed and refill the system or else fit a new pump. Check the fluid level, too. Also inspect the fuel lines where they meet the fuel rail for signs of cracking – if you can smell petrol, there’s trouble. Rattling exhausts will need replacing. Non-OEM replacements are rarely well designed.
Inspect under the glovebox for a wet carpet and check the heater blows hot – failings here suggest a new heater matrix will be required, which is a labour-intensive and costly fix. Make sure it has the correct blue Clio Williams carpet, and ensure the oil pressure gauge reads 1.2bar at 1000rpm and 3.5bar at 3000rpm. A compression test will be needed if it’s unsatisfactory, though it rises as the
car gets warmer, so low figures on start-up are no concern. The parcel shelf incorporates a carry-case for suits – make sure this is still present.
Because you’re a 1990s boy/girl racer with a little disposable income, some spare space,
and the desire to put a grin on your face. Alternatively, you want to own and drive something special that is appreciating in value. Whatever your logic, Clio Williams aren’t going to get any cheaper. Now’s the time to buy.