If machines with a unique history are your thing, then you’d be hard pressed to find one more intriguing than this Honda ST 70 ‘Ferrari’ Formula One Paddock Bike.
It’s being offered as part of RM Sotheby’s Nigel Mansell’s Legacy Collection, where it clearly hails from the years that Mansell—known as Il Leone to fans—raced for the one and only Scuderia Ferrari.
For those unfamiliar, British racer Nigel Mansell was an extremely talented, competitive, and stubborn Formula One driver in the 1980s and early 1990s. Seemingly from the start of his racing career, before even getting to the Formula One level, he was known for driving his cars (and himself) extremely hard.
How many people have you heard of who would have a bad crash, in which they’d break their neck seriously enough to nearly become quadriplegic, and then sneak out of the hospital so they could go compete in their next race? That’s an actual chapter from Mansell’s life, while on his way to becoming the 1977 British Formula Ford champion. Incidentally, that same attitude is one he reportedly carried with him throughout his entire racing career.
After becoming a test driver with Colin Chapman’s Lotus Formula One team, he suffered serious burns during his F1 debut at the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix. He remained with Lotus for several years before moving to Williams in 1985, when he was finally able to start racking up the wins. During this period, he came extremely close to winning the F1 Drivers’ World Championship twice. However, unfortunate last-minute mishaps prevented his hoisting that trophy both times.
In 1989, Mansell moved to Ferrari, where his ‘win it or bin it’ attitude endeared him to the fans, who nicknamed him ‘Il Leone’ (The Lion). One particularly memorable race from this season is recounted in his entry in the Formula One Drivers’ Hall of Fame, which reads, “at the Hungaroring, where overtaking is supposed to be impossible and where he had qualified a seemingly hopeless 12th, Mansell stormed through the field, scraping past [Ayrton] Senna’s McLaren in a breathtaking manouvre and won the race.”
In 1992, he’d go on to become Formula One World Champion at last with Williams, before jumping the Formula One ship to become the first rookie to win the CART Indycar World Series in his debut year in the sport in 1993. At the time of writing, Mansell is still the only driver in history to have been both the reigning Formula One Drivers’ Champion and the CART champion at the same time.
Back to the bike for sale, though. It’s the 1989 season that this Ferrari-painted Honda ST 70 pit bike hails from, which is presumably why it bears the “1989” year on the listing. Honda stopped making the ST 70 in 1981, but continued making its companion model, the CT 70, until 1994. It’s plain to see from the factory plaque on this ST 70 that it is, indeed, an ST 70—but it’s not clear what year this bike actually hails from.
Still, that’s probably of relatively minor importance to whoever bids on and wins the auction for this specific bike. It’s not clear if this charming little 72cc single-cylinder machine is in running order as of August 2023, but depending upon why the winning bidder purchases it, that fact may not necessarily matter. Even if it isn’t running, enthusiasm, knowledge, and parts are plentiful enough that if the new owner is so inclined, getting it into rideable nick probably wouldn’t be much of a challenge.
The RM Sotheby’s Nigel Mansell’s Legacy Collection auction is scheduled to run from October 4 through 11, 2023. This ST 70 is offered with no reserve and is expected to fetch between £5,000 and £10,000 (or between $6,299 and $12,598 as of August 28, 2023). If you fancy what’s probably one of an extremely small number of ex-Ferrari F1 Honda ST 70s in the world—let alone one that was once owned by Nigel Mansell—then you should probably set an alarm on your calendar, smartwatch, smartphone, or any other device you use for personal alerts.