Top five cars of historic World Cup legends

We know George Best had an E-type, but what about other World Cup legends of the past? What did they own? Here are the most interesting...

Footballers today swan about in all manner of vehicles no one else can afford, and usually cars no one else wants to buy, for that matter. Pimped Mercedes G-Wagens and bodykitted Bentleys that look about as ‘opulent’ as Barney the Dinosaur shopping at Harrods.

AutoClassics decided to look back at the footballing legends of yesteryear, and see whether the same trends applied 40 years ago. The short answer is no, thank goodness.

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Delving into the history books, footballers from the 1960s through 1980s were typically given or loaned cars from competing manufacturers as part of their contracts. This may answer why their cars weren’t suffocated with Need For Speed body kits, although it’s probably just as likely that the custom car pop culture of today had yet to be conceived.

Here's our pick of the more everyday vehicles that once graced the driveways of football's finest players:

Bobby Moore – 1970 Ford Cortina 1600E

Handed GWC 1H during the 1970 Mexico World Cup, Moore was one of 30 squad members given the keys to their mighty Ford Cortina. An amusing choice, given the modern day comparison is Jamie Vardy being handed the V5C to a spanking new Ford Focus and told to scrap the Bentley Continental GT he seemingly prefers.

We’re equally unsure if modern day Bruce Reynolds would look quite as good undertaking the great train robbery in a Focus RS as the infamous Lotus Cortina of 1963, but we’ll save the judgement. The 30 cars were registered with GWC at the fore of the numberplate, representing ‘Great World Cup’ for the final attempt at defending the 1966 title.

The 1599cc Kent engine kicked out 88bhp, a fairly solid wedge of power for the time. Lowered on Lotus suspension accompanying the cheeky Rostyle alloys with a corking mix of pinstripes and wood to complete the look, the 1600E proved very popular and remains mildly affordable even by today’s standards.

George Best – 1969 Lotus Europa

Arguably known for being the man to bump start the playboy culture seen with footballers ever since, George Best is usually known for his Series 3 Jaguar E-type, among other classics. The wee Lotus makes for a more interesting choice from his collection, and marks the turning point in which he clearly decided to say, ‘f**k it.’

The Lotus Europa was launched in 1966 and became a celebrity overnight. The ridiculous 740kg kerb weight and the bread van-esque rear deck proved particularly dramatic in the era of Morris Minors and Ford Anglias. Revered king of weight reduction Colin Chapman set out to make a car that reflected a Formula 1 experience in a production car. With only a two inch advantage over the height of a GT40, the driving position in a Europa was akin to climbing into a straitjacket that was then strapped to a reclined hospital bed.

Ergonomics aside the car was ingeniously designed. It claimed fame as the most aerodynamic car in the world with just 0.29 as its drag co-efficient. The rear deck was explained by the mid mounted, transverse 1.5 litre engine out of a Renault 16 – zesty.

Once the 70s rolled through, Chapman realised the 740kg go-kart needed more than the paltry 78bhp on offer from Renault’s bargain bin. The Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam engine was hammered in, and suddenly the car was a rocket ship on its way to Mars. 60mph screamed by in merely 6.6 seconds from the final 120bhp ‘big-valve’ version.

Franz Beckenbauer – 1972 BMW 2800 CS (E9)

The Kaiser, as he was affectionately known, certainly had the wheels to match his heroic nickname. The silky Beemer was launched off the back of the original 2000 CS to incorporate the new M30 straight six, an engine whose life span lasted a mammoth 28 years until 1994. The M30 enjoys being crowned one of the 'Top Engines of the 20th Century' by Wards Auto, and saw fitment in anything from 7 Series executive barges to the mighty shark faced 635 CSi of the 80s.

Sadly the initial design meant the CS coupé was in fact slower than its saloon counterpart. Shoddy drum brakes for the rear weighed the car down and proved its saloon sibling more agile. Unfortunately for Mr Beckenbauer this all changed in 1971 with the 3.0 CS and CSi models, with a proper brake set-up at the rear, improved suspension geometry and over 200bhp when you opened the taps on the bigger brother.

Pillar-less windows, a throaty straight-six and The Kinks helping you potter around that Sunny Afternoon, would you rather a CS or an XJC, we wonder?

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Diego Maradona – 1987 Ferrari Testarossa

Miami Beach, Phil Collins, white linen suits and a mountain and a half of cocaine; it could only be the Ferrari Testarossa.

Maradona’s car was black rather than the ‘blow’ white of Crockett’s, but obviously both featured the real star of the show, the 4.9-litre flat 12. One can immediately see why the drugs fuelled badassery of Miami Vice required the screaming bellow of a flat-plane crank, which clearly appealed to Maradona as equally. Possibly the best ‘feature’ of the Testarossa was its launch that took place at a Parisian night club in 1984, which likely ended in debauchery, violence and sin – that’s just too cool.

The Testarossa survived an incredible production run from 1984 to 1996, by which point the Testarossa name plate had been dropped from 1991, and replaced with the 512TR and eventually the F512 M, offering a range of revisions alongside.

The TR stood for Testarossa; some good pub chat for you...

Pelé – 1970 Mercedes-Benz W114

As much the King of Football as Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, Pelé had a rather gangster looking W114. A car washed with the subtle cocktail of ‘effortlessly cool’, the Benz would easily have looked at home by the sun drenched Copacabana beach.

The W114 is widely acknowledged as the R107 SL’s saloon brother. Designed for the individual who couldn’t convince the other half to have rag-top, the W114 was a seriously quality product, meticulously engineered.

As with most Mercedes-Benz’s of the time, a ridiculously confusing array of engines were offered, with limitations in certain markets. The diesel in-line four- and five-cylinder engines were the start of Mercedes-Benz’s long standing reputation for indestructibility, and largely carried over to the W123 that superseded the model.

Today it makes for a classy Jaguar XJ alternative, with a good dose of club support and DIY ability in abundance you can buy a good one for £12,000; a price that has doubled in the last six years.

Images courtesy of Getty Images and Ford Media UK

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