Mario Andretti’s F1 title-winning Lotus Type 79 could fetch nearly $10m at auction
One of the most important Formula One cars ever built is coming up for sale
Not just the car that transformed a US racing ace into a Formula One world champion, but the car that transformed Formula One itself. Mario Andretti’s title-winning Lotus Type 79 is coming up for auction, with a rather hefty price tag.
Fitting, really, because it’s the exact chassis – Type 79/4 – that powered Andretti to wins in the Dutch GP at Zandvoort and the Italian GP at Monza, the latter clinching him the 1978 Formula One drivers’ title, and Lotus the constructors’ title.
Sadly, the victory will forever carry with it the untimely and unfortunate passing of Andretti’s teammate Ronnie Peterson. One of the best F1 drivers to never win a title died from injuries he sustained in an accident at the Monza GP. Andretti would go on to dedicate his title victory to the supernaturally fast ‘Super Swede’.
Because between them – dubbed the ‘Mario and Ronnie train’ – they notched up 11 pole positions and eight wins in the 16 races that season. That figure meant that the revolutionary Type 79 helped Lotus take the most wins in a season since the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows team of 1955. A team which included Juan Manuel Fangio. And Sir Stirling Moss.
Ah yes, revolutionary. Under Colin Chapman’s direction, the Type 79 introduced the ‘ground effect’ aero principle (essentially inverting the principle of flight whereby low pressure under a wing creates lift, so the opposite creates downforce). A pair of narrow skirts dropped from the sides of the 79 to further push the car into the tarmac.
Bonhams reckons 'Black Beauty' will go for anywhere between $6.5-$9.5 million when it’s put up for auction at its Abu Dhabi GP sale in November. “This car, 79/4 or JPS22 as the sponsors preferred, ticks every conceivable box,” said Bonhams’s global director of motorsport Mark Osborne.
“From its ‘Superstar’ driver and crown-clinching Grand Prix success to its JPS livery and pivotal trend-setting innovation, Mario’s Championship winner from 1978 stands not only as one of the most significant cars of the 3-litre F1 era, but of Formula 1 itself".
A transformational pairing indeed.
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