Bonhams is offering Mario Andretti’s Formula 1 world championship-winning 1978 John Player Special Lotus-Cosworth Type 79 at its November auction. Andretti drove chassis 79/4 to victory at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort and, in the ensuing race, he clinched the 1978 Formula 1 Drivers’ championship with a win at the Italian Grand Prix. Lotus introduced the Type 79 in 1978 and, in twenty starts over 11 Grand Prix races that season, teammates Andretti and Ronnie “SuperSwede” Peterson earned six victories, five podium finishes, 10 pole position starts, and the duo finished first and second in four races. Bonhams expects chassis 79/4 to fetch between $6.5 million and $9.5 million at its inaugural sale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this coming November.
The L79 was designed by Lotus engineer and designer Martin Ogilvie with input from Lotus-founder and team boss Colin Chapman and aerodynamicist Peter Wright. Its advanced ground effects design was more advanced than the rest of the paddock and led to greater grip and handling at high speeds. Known as “Black Beauty,” the L79 was Lotus’ final constructors’ title-winning racecar developed under the direction of Colin Chapman.
“This Lotus 79 encapsulates the very essence of what the series represents – innovation, advance, exploring the boundaries of technology and the insatiable hunger to win,” says Maarten ten Holder, Managing Director, Bonhams Collector Cars.
Mario Andretti can make a strong claim to being the greatest American racing driver in motorsports history. He is only driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship. To date he is only the second American to win a Formula 1 Drivers’ championship (Phil Hill won the title in 1961 for Ferrari).
“This car, 79/4 or JPS22 as the sponsors preferred ticks every conceivable box,” says Mark Osborne, Global Director of Motorsport, Bonhams Collector Cars. “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”.
Andretti’s L79 Lotus is available at Bonhams’ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023 sale on the weekend of November 24-26 at the Yas Marina Circuit.