Graham Hill in the Lotus 49B at the 1969 British Grand Prix. Photo: LAT Photographic
Graham Hill in the Lotus 49B at the 1969 British Grand Prix. Photo: LAT Photographic

Fresh to market Lotus 49B is to go under the hammer at the Bonhams Festival of Speed auction on 27 June.

One of the most renowned of legendary Lotus head Colin Chapman’s landmark Formula 1 car designs, the Lotus 49 as introduced in 1967 not only launched the racing world’s most successful Grand Prix power unit – the Cosworth-Ford DFV V8 – into racing history, it also became one of the longest-lived of Grand Prix car designs – serving Team Lotus into 1970, and being campaigned by such superstar World Champions as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Chassis number ’49-R8′ was part of Gold Leaf Team Lotus’s motor racing armoury, and is the last Lotus to be sold from the collection of the much respected and sorely missed British-born Formula One Lotus collector and racer, the late John Dawson-Damer.

Never before offered at auction, ’49-R8′ was built in October 1968 and is one of a handful remaining of just 12 Lotus 49s produced. Its Colin Chapman concept, detailed by his gifted designer Maurice Phillippe, perfected a stressed-skin monocoque forward fuselage which terminated immediately behind the driver’s cockpit, to which the brand-new Cosworth-Ford DFV engine was then bolted as the rear chassis member, carrying the ZF or Hewland gearbox and rear suspension.

The Lotus 49 instantly set new Formula 1 performance standards, and won its debut race, the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix, driven by Jim Clark. In 1968 Graham Hill won his second Formula 1 World Championship title in the developed Type 49 and 49B cars and, when brand new, chassis ‘R8’ – now to be offered by Bonhams – became the new World Champion’s mount for the Tasman Championship races in New Zealand and Australia in January-February 1969.

Graham Hill drove ‘R8’ – rigged with the distinctive high-level strutted downforce wings of the period – to second place at both Christchurch and Invercargill, New Zealand, before finishing fourth at the Australian GP at Brisbane, and sixth at Melbourne. This great car was shipped back to Europe in time to be driven brilliantly by Richard Attwood in the World Championship-qualifying 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, finishing fourth and setting a memorable fastest lap.

At Gold Leaf Team Lotus’s Hethel works in Norfolk, England, ‘R8’ was adapted to latest Type 49B specification and raced again by charismatic British World Champion Graham Hill at the 1969 British Grand Prix, finishing seventh. Sold then to Swedish privateer Joakim Bonnier ‘R8’ retired from the 1969 German GP due to a fuel leak.

For 1970 the car was sold to Dave Charlton who used it to clinch the first two of his six consecutive South African Formula 1 Championship titles, 1970-75. Lotus 49 ‘R8’ won nine qualifying rounds in Dave Charlton’s 1970 campaign, and four more in 1971.

Campaigned to the end of 1972 by South African drivers Piet de Klerk and Mayer Botha, ‘R8’ was eventually acquired in damaged condition by Australian resident and British Lotus enthusiast, the Hon. John Dawson-Damer. He painstakingly restored this important Formula 1 car to race-worthy condition and it is today the last of his renowned, eight-strong, Dawson-Damer Lotus Collection – six of which were sold by Bonhams in Sydney in 2008.

James Knight, Bonhams group motoring director, said:

“By every standard, Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 concept is an absolute landmark in Formula 1 design. It simply raised the bar for every rival manufacturer, and its Cosworth-Ford V8 engine went on to win a record 155 World Championship Grands Prix.

“This car, chassis ‘R8’, was Graham Hill’s – it was also raced by that wonderful driver Richard Attwood to set fastest lap at Monaco in 1969, and private owner Dave Charlton drove it to become South African national Champion. Add the excellent provenance of it being offered direct from the famous Dawson-Damer Collection and plainly ‘R8’ is an iconic car.”

Other notable cars avaulable at the auction on the 27th June include a 1964 Lotus 30,  a 1960 Lotus LX as was meant to be raced at Le Mans but was withdrawn and a terrific example of a 1970 Lotus Elan S4 Sprint.

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