Mario Andretti’s legendary Lotus to fetch eye-watering amount at auction

Mario Andretti's Lotus 79 chassis number four will be auctioned at the 2023 F1 finale in Abu Dhabi by Bonhams.

The Andretti name is certainly a hot topic in Formula 1 at the moment, mainly due to the growing expectation that Andretti-Cadillac will join the grid in 2026, after recently being given support by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

However, the famous surname has also been making headlines due to 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti, who’s title-winning Lotus 79 chassis number four is going to be sold at auction.

The famous car will be sold live at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by Bonhams, with the car expected to fetch a staggering £5.25-£7.68 million.

Andretti’s car is worth a sensational amount due to it being the only existing F1 car to have won the title with an American driver behind the wheel, with Phil Hill’s 1961 championship-winning Ferrari believed to have been destroyed.

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The beautiful car was powered by a 3.0-litre Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 engine, with the Lotus 79 having been virtually unbeatable.

Andretti claimed five victories once the British automaker introduced the Lotus 79, after using their 1977 car, the Lotus 78, for the opening five rounds of the season.

When the Lotus 79 was introduced, Andretti claimed victory in Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and Netherlands, whilst he retired in Sweden, Great Britain, Austria and the United States.  

The auction house’s global director of motorsport, Mark Osborne, “vividly remembers” watching the truly iconic car, with the 1978 season having been what got him “hooked” on the pinnacle of motorsport.

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“I vividly remember, as a boy, being perched on the edge of my seat watching the ‘Mario and Ronnie Train’ of Colin Chapman’s beautiful black and gold cars dominating the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship with victory after victory,” said Osborne.

“I have been hooked on Formula 1 ever since. This car, 79/4 or JPS22 as the sponsors preferred, ticks every conceivable box. 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 3.0-litre F1 era, but of Formula 1 itself.”

The 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place November 24-26 at the Yas Marina Circuit.