1978 Lotus-Cosworth Type 79
Offered by Bonhams | Abu Dhabi, UAE | November 25, 2023
Well, F1 cars don’t come much more famous or significant than this. Bonhams has littered their listing with superlatives and a lot of words, so let’s try to distill it down a bit. The Type 79 was developed in late 1977 and would debut midway through 1978, dominating and being carried over for the 1979 season as well.
The car was advanced for its time, with the aerodynamics taking advantage of “ground effects”, sucking the car to the road in the corners. It’s powered by a 3.0-liter Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 that made about 475 horsepower. The competition history for this chassis, 79/4, includes:
- 1978 Dutch Grand Prix – 1st (with Mario Andretti)
- 1978 Italian Grand Prix – 6th (with Andretti)
- 1978 Canadian Grand Prix – 8th (with Andretti)
- 1979 Argentine Grand Prix – 5th (with Andretti)
- 1979 Brazilian Grand Prix – 23rd, DNF (with Andretti)
- 1979 French Grand Prix – 13th (with Carlos Reutemann)
- 1979 British Grand Prix – 23rd, DNF (with Andretti)
- 1979 Austrian Grand Prix – 18th, DNF (with Reutemann)
- 1979 Dutch Grand Prix – 22nd, DNF (with Reutemann)
- 1979 Italian Grand Prix – 7th (with Reutemann)
A few other notes. For 1978, the team ran the cars in the John Player Special livery, but the 1979 paint scheme was Martini. This car was also used in Mario Andretti’s 1978 championship season (in which he won the driver’s championship and Lotus the constructor’s).
Lotus kept the car until selling it in 1983. It suffered a big crash in a vintage event in 1989. Later rebuilt, the car changed hands next in 1999, when the current owner bought it. This car has an estimate of $6,500,000-$9,500,000 – the high end of which is short of RM’s low estimate on their modern Mercedes F1 car. Which seems backwards. Click here for more info.