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You can buy the very first Lotus F1 car

Own a piece of Fi history: the first Lotus car

Bonhams / Bonhams

Collecting cars is a passion that allows for all sorts of niche vehicles to go for astronomical prices for a myriad of reasons. Maybe it was a poster of a Lamborghini Countach on your wall as a kid, or the first Porsche you ever saw just happened to be a 911 Slant Nose Turbo, or maybe it has been your lifelong obsession with F1 racing that has you fixated on not wanting, but needing to own a piece of the sport. Well, now is your chance to get your hands on a truly one-of-a-kind car. The very first Lotus Formula 1 car will be going up for sale at a Bonhams auction on May 10th.

This Lotus F1 weighs just 700 pounds and makes 141 hp

Bonhams / Bonhams

This one-of-a-kind car is chassis number 353, which was raced by Lotus in both F1 and F2 for eight races between 1957 and 1959. Its official debut was during a non-championship race at Silverstone. Both the car and its driver, Graham Hill, made their F1 entrance that day, beginning an illustrious tandem career, where man and machine would go on to not only win the triple crown of Monaco, Indy 500, and Le Mans, but two F1 championships to boot.

Graham Hill also went on to win the Monte Carlo Classic five times, posting a hat-trick by winning 1962, 1963, and 1964 back-to-back-to-back, and then back-to-back in 1968 and 1969, making him something of a legend in the Lotus racing community.

Designed by Lotus founder Colin Chapman, the Lotus 12 was forged from aircraft aluminum and fitted with a Coventry Climax inline-four-cylinder engine that made 141 hp. That power was routed to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission.

141 hp may not sound like much with 1,000 hp Teslas flying around, but by weighing just 700 pounds, this Lotus F1 has a better power-to-weight ratio than the Ferrari F50.

The first Lotus F1 is expected to sell for up to $420,000

Bonhams / Bonhams

This well-presented, fully restored, and very original-looking Type 12 Formula 1 and 2 racecar is a collector’s dream. All the hard work is done, and all that is left is to enjoy it. Bonhams expects chassis number 353 to sell for between $310,000 and $420,000, but when the bidding starts, there’s no telling how high the price might go for someone who has idolized Lotus and F1 their entire lives.

As we’ve seen with many other auctions of Ferraris and Porsches, collectors with deep pockets can throw caution to the wind and bid with reckless abandon to get their coveted prize. But unlike the one-of-however-many Porsche or Ferrari out there, there is exactly one first Lotus F1 car to be had. It has exchanged hands with several private owners since 1958 and is finally going back up for sale for the first time since 1995. If you’ve ever wanted a piece of true F1 history, your chance is coming May 10th of this year.

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Lou Ruggieri
A lifelong lover of cars, Lou contributes to Motor Trend, Hot Cars, Auto & Truck Connection, and the PowerAutoMedia Group.
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