Motorsport Legend Mario Andretti's 1976 Lotus Elite Sportscar Gifted To Him By Colin Chapman

For Sale With H&H Classics At Pavilion Gardens, Buxton On November 30th 2022

22/11/2022     General News

1976 Lotus Elite - Estimate £10,000 - £12,000

This Lotus sportscar coming to sale with H&H Classics is the very one Andretti received from Colin Chapman during the season that the American great achieved his first Grand Prix Victory. It is estimated to sell for £10,000 to £12,000.

Although Mario Andretti had driven Lotus F1 cars in 1968 and 1969, it was not until 1976 that he became a full-time member of the famous equipe. Never one to miss a trick, either on or off the track, Chapman ensured that his superstar drivers were seen behind the wheel of Lotus products whenever possible.

Gifted to Mario Andretti during 1976, the same season that saw him score his maiden F1 victory and two years before he became F1 World Champion, chassis 76030100C was finished in Red with Cream leather.

Andretti is known for his pithy quotes, for example: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”

Announced in May 1974, the Type 75 Elite was part of a determined push upmarket by Lotus. The world’s most expensive four-cylinder car during its eight-year production run (1974-1982), the 2+2-seater was also notable for being among the last Lotus road cars to receive significant design input from marque founder, Colin Chapman. Penned by Oliver Winterbottom, the Elite’s sleek fibreglass bodywork (0.30cd) sat atop a steel backbone chassis equipped with all-round independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering. Powered by a 1973cc DOHC engine allied to manual or automatic transmission, the Type 75 weighed little more than 1,000kg and was reputedly capable of 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and 125mph. Available in 501, 502, 503 and 504 trims, some 2,535 were made.

Acquired by its last registered keeper on September 1st 1984 and showing an unwarranted 87,178km to its odometer, the left-hand drive Lotus last passed a MOT test on October 10th 2013. Thought to represent an ideal candidate for straightforward winter recommissioning, ‘NCL 734P’ has reputedly seen much expenditure in the past including a replacement chassis. In more recent times, the Lotus is said to have received a “small service with new battery”. However, the vendor feels “the car would now benefit from being taken to the next level, with some attention to the brakes and a new clutch”. Sensibly guided and offered with confirmation of its history by Andy Graham of Group Lotus - surely an opportunity not to be missed!

Mario Andretti survived the rigours of racing for more than three decades and thrived — taking more than 100 wins in the process, putting him in a league with few peers.

He could win in just about anything, for example becoming the USAC National Dirt Track Champion as well as the Formula 1 World Champion with Pike’s Peak, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Sebring, IROC, and many other successes for good measure.