The First Lotus Formula 1 Car is set for a £300,000 Climax at Auction

by Nik Berg
25 March 2024 2 min read
The First Lotus Formula 1 Car is set for a £300,000 Climax at Auction

Exactly 66 years since it made its racing debut the very first Lotus Formula 1 car is to return to Monaco. This time, however, a top price at auction will be the prize.

The 1957-58 Lotus-Climax Type 12 chassis number 353 is the very car driven by Graham Hill on the streets of Monte Carlo, where he briefly led before retiring with a halfshaft failure. The Type 12 had previously tested its mettle (and metal) in Formula 2, but to compete in the top tier Coventry Climax enlarged its four-cylinder engine from 1500 cc to 1960 cc. It was underpowered compared to 2.5-litre rivals, but the lightweight Lotus showed promise on twisty circuits where top speeds were lower.

How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.
Get a quote

Unfortunately reliability was not a strength and Hill also failed to finish in the Netherlands and Belgium, while teammate Cliff Allison had slightly better luck finishing six out of seven races in the Type 12 during the 1958 season, with a best finish just off the podium in fourth place at Spa.

The Type 12 may not have taken a checkered flag, but it did set Lotus on course for no less than seven Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championships and six drivers’ titles for Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti. In total Lotus achieved 74 Grand Prix victories during its Formula 1 years.

Chassis 353, meanwhile, was sold to privateer John Fisher and campaigned in 1959 by Britain’s Bruce Halford and glamorous Italian lady racer Maria Teresa de Filippis. The car was subsequently bought by Australian Frank Gardener and raced in the land down under. Between 196 and 1991 the car had four further owners before being fully restored by its current keeper.

 “I wish that every Team Lotus racing car could have such a wonderful record of its life,” declared Clive Chapman, head of Classic Team Lotus in a foreword to a 2006 book Lotus 12 Chassis No. 353: The History.

With its superbly-documented and illustrious past the Type 12 is estimated to sell for €290,000-€390,000 (£248,800-£334,600) when it crosses the block at Bonham’s Les Grandes Marques à Monaco sale on May 10.

You may also like

1964 World’s Fair Henry Ford II
Mustang Memories: Tom Cotter Recalls 17 April 1964 – and What Came Next
GMA T.50s
Gordon Murray's T.50s to make its Track Debut at Goodwood
The 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre is Electrification's Perfect Blend
A story about

Your biweekly dose of car news from Hagerty in your inbox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on this topic
Hagerty Newsletter
Get your weekly dose of car news from Hagerty UK in your inbox

Thanks for signing up!

Your request will be handled as soon as possible