Lotus is in search of its first car ever produced – and has called upon car enthusiasts worldwide to help find it.
Brought to light amidst the company’s 70th anniversary celebrations, the news of the search for the long-lost Lotus Mark I continues to spread across the internet.
The Mark I was hand-built in a small garage in London in 1948, by the brand’s founder, Colin Chapman. He had turned a used Austin 7 into the Mark I, with help from his girlfriend at the time (and later wife), Hazel, and some of his engineer friends.
Upon its creation, Colin was already developing the principals that would carry on through the Lotus brand to this day – his way of thinking (and some of his original creations) still play huge roles in modern aerodynamics, performance, and handling.
Clive Chapman, Colin’s son and now director of Classic Team Lotus, explains, “[The creation of the Mark I was] the first time that my father was able to put his theories for improved performance into practice when designing and building a car.”
With Colin behind the wheel, the Mark I picked up multiple awards from its first couple of events it attended back in the day. Colin quickly moved on to his next project, the Mark II, and sold the Mark I in November of 1950. He received £135 (roughly $5,000 USD today) from the owner, who was based out of North England.
Both the Mark I and II were based off of the Austin 7, but the second iteration used an updated Ford engine, while the Mark I retained the original from the Austin 7. Lotus prides itself on the same detailed suspension work and lightweight chassis that Colin started from the very beginning. It started it all – Lotus Engineering in 1952, and Team Lotus in Formula 1 in the late ’50s. Everything is owed to the Mark I’s creation and successes.
Despite its existence in Colin’s care being well documented, as well as existing research efforts, its whereabouts have been unknown for over 60 years now. Today, it’s being called the “most elusive Lotus ever.”
The Mark I is the holy grail of Lotus’ history. – Clive Chapman
“To locate this landmark Lotus, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary, would be a monumental achievement,” said Clive. “We want fans to take this opportunity to look in every garage, shed, barn and lock up they’re allowed to. It’s even possible that the Mark I was shipped from the UK, and we’d love to know if it survives in another country.”
Over the years, many have searched for the car, with no luck – Lotus has called upon experts, fans, and more. But, as the company celebrates their significant 70th anniversary, it hopes that a renewed search on a global scale, will finally bring the car to light. We hope that the car gets found – or at least more of its story gets uncovered.