F1 champ Nigel Mansell is selling Mitsubishis in Jersey

Formula One drivers have a pretty short shelf life, so when they're done racing in grands prix, retired pilots can have a whole second career ahead of them. Jody Scheckter, for example, runs an organic farm. Niki Lauda started an airline. Most move on to other racing series, provide television commentary during race broadcasts, or start their own racing teams. But not Nigel Mansell: he's got a Mitsubishi dealership.

Situated on Jersey – not New Jersey, but the British channel island – Mansell Mitsubishi is run by Nigel and his son Leo. It grew out of the service station the Mansells opened fourteen years ago, and out of the Mansell Collection, a used car dealership based in an old Art Deco movie theater, but recently expanded into selling new cars recently with the acquisition of a franchise.

The Japanese brand may seem a bit of an odd choice, especially now that it's getting away from performance models and putting more emphasis on plug-in electrics. After all, Nigel won his 1992 Formula One World Championship in a Renault-powered Williams, before that raced for the likes of Ferrari and Lotus, and won the CART title on his debut season in a Lola-Ford. But the Mansells are adamant that they wanted a volume brand, not to deal with the high-priced exotics with which the name might be more readily associated. After all, there are only 100,000 or so people residing on the isle of Jersey, which wouldn't make for a very big customer base for high-end machinery.

He and Leo (with whom he raced at Le Mans a few years back) even participated in a two-day training session for new franchisees, where few initially recognized the former champ. And they've got plans to expand as well. But the biggest draw may very well be the star factor, and the Mansells haven't shied away from playing it up, displaying memorabilia from Nigel's racing career around the showroom. After all, the prospect of being taken on a test drive by a former F1 champion may be enough to bring new customers into the showroom who might not have otherwise.

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