Mario Andretti’s championship-winning 1978 John Player Special Lotus-Cosworth Formula 1 racer is the star car in the Bonhams Abu Dhabi 2023 sale.
The headline car for the Bonhams Abu Dhabi sale during the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend is the 1978 John Player Special Lotus-Cosworth 79/4 Formula 1 single-seater racing car in which Mario Andretti secured his world championship driver’s title. It is the only car in existence in which an American driver won the F1 championship and is offered with a presale estimate of $6.5 to 9.5 million. Also on sale is the 2006 McLaren-Mercedes MP4/21 driven by Kimi Raikkonen.
Bonhams Abu Dhabi Sale 2023
Bonhams Abu Dhabi collector car auction: at the Yas Marina Circuit on 25 November 2023 during the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend.
The Abu Dhabi sale features around 30 collector cars which are expected to sell collectively for over $20 million.
Mario Andretti’s 1978 JPS Lotus-Cosworth Type 79 Formula 1 Car
Mario Andretti’s 1978 John Player Special Lotus-Cosworth Type 79 Formula 1 single-seater racing car, chassis 79/4, is without a doubt the star car on offer at the Bonhams Abu Dhabi sale 2023. This Lotus is the only Formula 1 car in existence in which an American driver secured the world drivers’ championship. It is offered in the sale with an estimate of US$6.5 – 9.5 million, which could make it the fourth most expensive Formula 1 car ever.
Team Lotus secured six wins and five podium places with the Type 79 cars in the 1978 season (11 races) with the highest number of wins in a season since the 1955 victories of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. Andretti and his teammate Ronnie Peterson secured four 1-2 finishes.
Chassis 79/4, the Lotus on sale, was only raced four times in 1978 including a victory for Andretti in Zandvoort. Andretti secured his championship win at the Italian GP at Monza in this car despite being demoted from first to sixth. (His teammate Peterson died following a crash at Monza and Andretti later recalled: “It’s always going to overshadow what could have been the most satisfying day of my life. But I could never really truly celebrate and I never will.”)
The JPS Lotus was rebranded as a Martini Team Lotus for the 1979 season. Its only noticeable result in 1979 was a third place at the Monaco Grand Prix being driven by Carlos Reutemann.
Not surprisingly, the Lotus is presented for sale at Abu Dhabi 2023 in the black John Player Special livery of the championship-winning year.
Andretti is only the second American to have won the Formula 1 world driver’s championship, The ‘Sharknose’ Ferrari in which Philip Hill claimed the first championship for an American in 1961 was scrapped by the manufacturer. As a result, this Lotus chassis offers the only opportunity to own a Formula 1 World Championship-clinching car piloted to victory by an American racing driver.
Other Headline Cars at the Bonhams Abu Dhabi Sale 2023
Further Formula 1-related cars on offer in the Bonhams Abu Dhabi 2023 sale include:
Kimi Räikkönen’s 2006 McLaren-Mercedes MP4/21, is offered with an estimate of US$2.5 – 3.5 million. Räikkönen achieved two podium finishes with the McLaren, however, in Monaco the engine overheated and Räikkönen is famously remembered for heading back to his yacht instead of the team’s paddock.
The custom-specification 2022 McLaren Elva of Fernando Alonso is on offer with an estimate of US$2.5 – 3 million. (An Elva sold for only $1.5 million at RM Sotheby’s Las Vegas 2023 sale just the week before.)
Not F1-related but with performance to match is the 1993 Porsche 911 Type 964 Carrera RSR ‘Strassenversion’ Coupé — the first of only two street-legal versions of the 51 cars produced for competition. It still presents in its original factory protective wax and has just 10km displayed on its odometer. Not surprisingly, it is also matching numbers and outstandingly original. Its estimate is US$2 – 2.5 million.