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I had a Clio Williams from 1998 to 2001, and I have to say that this is one of the best cars I have ever driven.
I bought the car in 98 with 102,000 on the clock for £10k - that was cheap then, as most were going for in excess of £12k. I knew I would put a lot of miles on the clock, so didn't mind that it had already covered so many - at least I knew it hadn't been clocked! At 100k it had worn well, a few stone chips on the front - to be expected, but the engine sounded like new, and it had a full service history - meticulously maintained.
In the time I had it, the car got seriously abused. It is a drivers car - handles like it's on rails, and has good accelleration too - although you need to rev it hard to get the best out of it. My other car was an Escort Cosworth, and while the clio was not as quick as the cossie, it handled almost as well, and was equally as much fun to drive - in some ways moreso, as you could throw the clio around more than the escort.
By the time I sold it, the car had covered 180,000 miles, and had done trips to Scottish highlands twice, and also two trips around the costline of Ireland. On these minor roads, this car came into it's own. It's not too much fun on the motorway, as it's small, and not roomy, but on B-roads, it is unsurpassed.
Mine was a Clio Williams 1 - it was individually numbered (no.303) and had electric windows, power steering, central locking, and a huge array of instrumentation. The seats were special design affairs for the Williams. Later Williams 2/3 models included extras such as sunroof, ABS, electric mirrors, but the Williams 1 is still considered the classic version.
Mine was very robust, and reliable, given the beating it took, however, you should remember if buying one of these, that they're going to hit your wallet occasionally, and will not be as cheap to run as say a Clio RSi.
Most of the parts are shared with the lesser Clio 16V, which means that they are easy to get at places like halfords, and specialist breakers. If you have to buy from Renault - they are not the cheapest.
Also, the car isn't too difficult to work on. Mine never saw a Renault dealer in all the time I had it - I got everything done at a local garage where labour rates are much cheaper.
The things I had to replace in my time were:
- Tyres - they come with £90-100 185/55/VR15 tyres. Change these to 195/50/VR15 tyres -not only do they improve handling, but are half the price! - Exhaust - the Renault one's don't last very long - change it to a stainless steel version - I fitted a magnex system - a bit noisier than the Renault, but much better, also about the same price at £250 complete. - Clutch - the original clutch finally gave up the ghost at 150,000 miles - which is fantastic wear. I got it changed at a local company who charged me £200 to replace it - much cheaper than Renault. - Cambelt - this is a big, big job, as it entails 5-6 hours of work. The belt itself costs about £40 (get a propper Renault one), the labour costs you. My local garage charged me £150 labour, Renault quoted £350+vat. - Suspension - gave up on Ireland's ropey road surfaces - but not too difficult to change nor expensive. - Downpipes & engine mounte - also gave up on Ireland's roads. The downpipe was expensive - £400 for the part, but cheap to get fitted. Engine mounts weren't too bad. - Alternator - died at about 140,000 miles - cost £150 fitted for an exchange unit from Halfords.
When I sold it, mechanically it was still fantastic - and the engine still sounded like new. I used to use fully synthetic oil (5W/40) at every change (6000 miles service interval) and semi-synthetic (10W/40) to top up. There is an oil level guage in the cockpit - check this every time you start the car, cos these engines do consume oil! You'll probably find yourself using 2/3 litres of good quality oil between each service. The car itself will return about 28mpg, which is not too bad.
Unfortunately, the body had started to show it's age - rust on both rear wheel arches, the bonnet and tailgate. Also the lacquer on the wheels is very dodgy - all Clio's start to lose the gold effect - it flakes off, and leaves a nasty corrosion pattern behind. The wheels can be refurbished, but cost £200ish to be done, and cause you the hassle of changing all the tyres over.
If you buy one, then they seem to go and go forever. Things to check are that the cambelt has been changed, and insist on getting one with full history. Main dealer may not be important, but good quality oil is. Check the bodywork for rust, and if all is OK, then I'd strongly recommend you getting a plastic film fitted over the rear arches, as these are flared compared with standard clio's and they get hit by stones kicked up from the front wheels - this is where the rust starts. Get the wheels refurbed unless they're perfect (most Halfords and tyre places offer this service).
It was called Williams as it was fettled by Frank Williams, and it was made to commemorate the F1 championship victories of Williams Renault of that era... sadly (for Renault at least) those days are long gone...
letsgotowork 28.02.2004 18:11
Great review, I am actually think about buying one of these and you have helped me tremendously. It's good to know all the things I can expect, well done! lex xx
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