Lot 244: 1957 Lotus 12 'Ex Graham Hill'
The cigar-shaped ultra-lightweight Lotus Type 12 was the very first single-seater, open-wheeled racing car to be designed by the legendary Colin Chapman and campaigned by his super-successful Team Lotus organisation. The new design had first been unveiled at the 1956 London Motor Show - in parallel with the epochal moulded glass fibre monocoque Lotus Elite small-capacity Grand touring classic - it was so new when displayed there that the prototype was actually equipped with a wooden mock-up gearbox. Team Lotus began testing the new model seriously during the winter of 1956-57 and it was early in 1957 that the first Lotus Type 12's began racing driven by works drivers Cliff Allison and Graham Hill amongst others. The new car was powered by the 1500cc 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax FPF twin-cam engine which drove to the rear wheels via a startling new sequential gearbox unit with the final-drive in the car's de Dion-suspended rear end. This gearbox offered high-efficiency power transmission and although when hard-pressed it would prove rather unreliable it was commonly very happy with 1500cc Formula 2 horsepower. Overall the Lotus 12 was one of the most startlingly effective front-engined racing cars ever built. It weighed barely 700lbs ready to run and with some 141 horsepower, it offered a power-to-weight ratio of around 450 bhp per tonne! During 1957, Team Lotus contested a restricted programme of Formula 2 races with the new cars. The type's racing debut with Allison driving had been made at Goodwood on Easter Monday in car "253" - the first to employ what would become famous as "Chapman strut" rear suspension in place of the hefty de Dion axle with the drive-shafts providing upper lateral location for the rear wheels in conjunction with a broad-based wishbone linkage down below. Into 1958, the enlarged 1.96 and ultimately 2.2-litre versions of the Coventry Climax FPF 4-cylinder engine were adopted in the works team Type 12 chassis to enable Lotus to enter 2 Litre-limit Formula 1 racing for the first time. Graham Hill made the marques Formula 1 debut in the non-Championship International Trophy race at Silverstone that May, and Cliff Allison actually came very close to inheriting victory in the Belgian Grand Prix that year!Chassis 352 presented here had formed part of a German collection for many years until it was restored in the 1980's by well-known Lotus specialist Peter Denty. It was subsequently campaigned very successfully in Historic Grand Prix Car Association. The car qualified amongst the top twelve on the starting grid at Silverstone during the 1997 Coys Historic Festival and lapped the Grand Prix circuit faster than five much larger (but heavier and less sophisticated) Maserati 250F's. In recent times, the car has resided in Sweden where the current owner was able to source the original 1.5 litre Climax unit and the original gearbox reuniting it to the car thus completing its original specification. Recent competition outings have included Monaco in 2000 and 2002 and the Nuerburgring Oldtimer GP in 2002. Presented here, this historic single seater is an important part of the Lotus Grand Prix story and eligible for numerous historic motor racing events complete with its current FIA papers.
Spirit of Motoring|
Coys, Westminster, London SW1
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