Rare - and oh so beautiful - F1 car comes up for sale


The first ever Lotus 72 Grand Prix car, as campaigned by both John Miles (Team Lotus) and double World Champion Graham Hill (Rob Walker Racing) in the 1970 season, has been consigned by H&H Sales for its July 25 sale at Kempton Park Racecourse.

Chassis R1 made its debut at the Spanish Grand Prix of April 19 in Miles' hands. It was soon apparent that the model's complex suspension was overly ambitious but, while the sister car of eventual 1970 World Champion Jochen Rindt (who thankfully remains the sport's only posthumous champion) was swiftly and extensively modified, the Miles car only received partial modification. Despite that he achieved 7th place in the Dutch GP and 8th position in the French event.

Approached by established privateer Rob Walker to build a car for Graham Hill, Lotus converted R1 to a ‘parallel' suspension set-up (akin to that found on Rindt's reconfigured and victorious R2) before renumbering it as R4. Driven by Hill in the Oulton Park Gold Cup as well as the Canadian, American and Mexican Grands Prix, the single-seater was retired from works duty at the season's end. It then briefly passed through the hands of Swiss ace Jo Siffert before being purchased by double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi for display purposes.

British international historic car dealer Adrian Hamilton repatriated R4 in 1985 and sold it to computer magnate John Foulston, whose Haslemere Sports Cars concern restored it and equipped it with a brand new Cosworth DFV engine. The last person to race it was Foulston's wife Mary. It has not been used since the early 1990s and will therefore need recommissioning.

The history of this highly desirable automotive icon – to many eyes, one of the most beautiful Grand Prix cars of all time – is well documented: not least within the eulogistic track test carried out for Classic & Sports Car by renowned historic racer Willie Green in 1987.

Further information on this and all other H&H sales can be found at classic-auctions.com

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Published: 02/05/2007
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