Williams Renault FW18

It has been some time since I was thinking about getting this Formula 1 chassis for my collection because it was a reference into its category during its almost 15 years of existence in Tamiya's offering. After reviewing its predecessors, I wanted to know about the generation that seem to be the achievement of the dynasty. So when the opportunity popped up, I clicked laughing.


The F103 chassis lineage

As mentioned in the foreword, the F103 chassis was the ultimate weapon in its category for many years. Several versions existed, and it all started in 1993:


58126 Lotus 107B (1993)

Tamiya 58126 Lotus 107B


58130 Sauber C12 (1993)

Tamiya 58130 Sauber C12


58142 Ferrari 412T1 (1994)

Tamiya 58142 Ferrari 412T1

Photos © Tamiya


Only 3 models used the original F103 basis, but in 1994, new variants were released, among which the F103L version to fit the longer Formula Indy bodyshells:


58134 Newman Lola T93/00 Ford (1994)

Tamiya 58134 Newman Lola T93/00 Ford


58148 Rahal-Hogan Lola T94 (1994)

Tamiya 58148 Rahal-Hogan Lola T94

Photos © Tamiya


Following the same idea, Tamiya will later release the F103LM version for prototypes bodyshells from the world famous 24h of Le Mans race:


58247 Audi R8R (1999)

Tamiya 58247 Audi R8R


58258 F103LM TRF Special Chassis Kit (2000)

Tamiya 58258 F103LM TRF Special Chassis Kit

Photos © Tamiya


Let's get back to 1995 when my model F103RS version was released, mainly introducing an improved rear suspension system:


58156 F103RS Chassis Kit (1995)

Tamiya 58156 F103RS Chassis Kit


58179 Williams-Renault FW18 (1996)

Tamiya 58179 Williams-Renault FW18


58198 PIAA Nakajima Reynard 97D (1997)

Tamiya 58198 PIAA Nakajima Reynard 97D


58213 Ferrari F310B (1998)

Tamiya 58213 Ferrari F310B


58229 Toyota GT-One TS-020 (1998)

Tamiya 58229 Toyota GT-One TS-020


58230 Porsche 911 GT1 (1999)

Tamiya 58230 Porsche 911 GT1


58235 Mclaren Mercedes MP4/13 (1999)

Tamiya 58235 Mclaren Mercedes MP4/13


58253 Toyota GT-One TS020 (1999)

Tamiya 58253 Toyota GT-One TS020

Photos © Tamiya


Then, the F103RX version was released in 1997: it mainly brought a modified front drivetrain that most drivers disliked. Almost 10 years later, the F103GT was released, and then another decade passed until another model was released: the 2006 and 2016 version is specific because it was designed to fit the Touring category bodyshells. This allowed the F103GT chassis to race with the 4WD Touring cars whenever the rules allowed it.


58194 F103 RX Chassis Kit (1997)

Tamiya 58194 F103 RX Chassis Kit


58367 F103GT Direct Drive (2006)

Tamiya 58367 F103GT Direct Drive


58376 Advance Courage LC70 Mugen (2006)

Tamiya 58376 Advance Courage LC70 Mugen


58617 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Launch (2016)

Tamiya 58617 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Launch

Photos © Tamiya


Apart from the unexpected F103GT reboot in 2016, the F103 last appearance was in 2008 with the release of four models in limited edition: the first three were using the latest chassis evolution called F103RM. This last evolution brought an adjustable rear drivetrain ride height and an lighter damper stay. These models came with unofficial Formula 1 bodyshells, probably for license cost reasons. Nevertheless, the "M Body" is a McLaren, the "T Body" is probably a Tyrrell and the "L Body" is probably a Ligier. Last but not least, a special 15th Anniversary limited edition was released at the end of the F103 chassis career:


49498 F103RM M Body (2008)

Tamiya 49498 F103RM M Body


84031 F103RM T Body (2008)

Tamiya 84031 F103RM T Body


84032 F103RM L Body (2008)

Tamiya 84032 F103RM L Body


84056 F103 15th Anniversary Chassis Kit (2008)

Tamiya 84056 F103 15th Anniversary Chassis Kit

Photos © Tamiya


This impressive dynasty and how long it lasted are proofs of its commercial success. The F103 chassis was the king of the tracks in its category, especially starting from the F103RS version released in 1995. Its resurrection under the F103GT version in 2006 is more trivial: at the highest racing level, the F103 chassis had already very serious opponents. But this Touring version definitely proves that the F103 genes were good enough to decently race it against 4WD opponents. As for the 2008 versions, they mostly look like a last tribute to a chassis that made history.


My Williams-Renault FW18 when it arrived

A few days after clicking, I was pleased to open the parcel:


Tamiya 58179 Williams Renault FW18 - F103RS as it arrived

Tamiya 58179 Williams Renault FW18 - F103RS as it arrived


You can only see part of what I received since the parcel also contained the stock wheel set, the battery tray missing parts, the sticker sheet and everything required to transform the chassis into an F103GT. The overall condition looks pretty good but a full disassembly is required, both to check every part is there and to rebuild the chassis as stock.