In 1984, the late Ayrton Senna made his debut in F1 racing by taking second place in a rain-shortened Monaco Grand Prix while driving a Toleman TG184-2 open-wheel racer. You can see this exact car overtaking second place at the 2:33 mark in the above video. Ten years later, in the 1994 racing season, Senna’s life ended abruptly during a freak accident at the San Marino Grand Prix. The legend of this three-time F1 World Champion lives on, as Silverstone Auctions has announced that the Toleman TG184 that Senna made his debut in is coming to auction on May 16, 2012.

Despite the age of this race car, its 1.5-liter engine is still a highly technical piece of machinery that produces horsepower in the range of the 2.4-liter V-8 engines used in today’s F1 series. Though this vehicle is not one that is setup for road driving, it is something that would be neat for a collector to have in his garage. However, it is not without its flaws and uncertainties.

Hit the jump for more details on Ayrton Senna’s F1 race car.

  • Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna’s first F1 car
  • Year:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    Five-speed manual
  • Displacement:
    1.5 L
  • Price:
  • car segment:


Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna's first F1 car High Resolution Exterior
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With this Toleman TG184-2 open-wheel racer, you are getting just that, an impressive looking collector’s car that features a wing on the front and a large double wing on the rear of the vehicle. One of the best things about this vehicle is that it has never needed restoration, so it remains 100% original and un-restored since its 1984 debut. It also features the original sponsor decals from its initial race, so it is truly an original.


Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna's first F1 car High Resolution Exterior
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Inside it is, well, an F1 racer. There’s no stereo system or power windows to roll up and down. There is a four-point harness, as required by F1, which secures the driver in its rather snug-fitting racing seat. In front of the driver in the cockpit is the basic racing steering wheel, important gauges – likely including oil pressure, temperature, tachometer and speedometer. With this vehicle, you get exactly what you pay for: a race car.

Engine and Drivetrain

Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna's first F1 car Drivetrain
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Now it’s time for the real fun to start… This racing machine features a 1.5-liter HART 415T turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. While exact specifications are not available on the engine, F1 claims that the 1.5-liter engines of this era pumped out a whopping 750 bhp per liter, meaning this monster may produce upwards of 1,125 bhp. This is significantly higher than the 800 or so, horsepower that post-2006 F1 cars produce. One issue with the engine is that these F1 engines were notoriously maxed out, so they typically require rebuild after every race. Silverstone Auctions is ominously quiet about its running condition.

Tossing this 1,000+ horsepower to the rear wheels is a Hewland five-speed gearbox. The shifter sits on the front driver’s side of the cockpit and appears to be weathered, but that just adds to the character of this vehicle. The gearbox is also an oft-rebuilt component after every few races, as F1 did not mandate a four-race minimum on gearboxes until 2008. Just as with the engine, Silverstone makes no mention of its operating condition.


Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna's first F1 car High Resolution Exterior
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Silverstone Auctions has not yet set an anticipated price for Ayrton Senna’s debut F1 car, but we can always make an educated guess. Considering that a restored and race-ready F3 – Europe’s version of F1 – car driven by Senna is expected to fetch £110,000 to £125,000 ($175,000 to $200,000) in the same auction, even a non-running version of his debut F1 vehicle, which is in an un-restored and original condition, should fetch upwards of £250,000 ($399,000). With collector cars like this piece, having an un-restored and original vehicle actually adds value, given the vehicle looks good as is.


Toleman TG184-2: Ayrton Senna's first F1 car High Resolution Exterior
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If you have the means and desire to own a piece of F1 history, Ayrton Senna’s Toleman TG184-2 is certainly an option, but there are a few things to consider. Given the fact that this is completely original and un-restored, the initial cost will be great, but this also adds to its future worth. In addition, this vehicle is purely for the collector, not the amateur racer, as Silverstone is quiet on the actual condition of the engine and gearbox. This leads us to assume that it is not in operating condition and requires a pricy rebuild.

With all of that said, this F1 racer is an absolute legend in the automotive racing world. Carrying on Ayrton Senna’s legend by purchasing and displaying his debut car would be an honor for any automotive enthusiast.

Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
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