LOTUS 12 - Chassis No 352 - 1957 Formula 1 and 2

Single seaters / Västra Götalands, Sweden

Price: 295.000 €


SIGNIFICANCE: The first Lotus single-seater and the first car that Team Lotus entered into a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The first F1 car point-scoring for Team Lotus at Dutch Grand Prix-1958.

DESIGNER: Colin Chapman, aero by Frank Costin

ENGINE: 1,5-liter, 4-cyl, 175 hp, Coventry Climax

Originally designed for Formula 2 1.5-liter formula, driven by Cliff Allison and rookie Graham Hill. Allison scored a handful of points, the high-water mark being fourth place at Spa.

The Type 12 was entered in both Formula One and Formula Two between 1957 and 1959 using Coventry Climax FPF engines of various capacities. Twelve of these cars were produced.

Colin Chapman’s long-held wish to build and enter one of his cars in Grand Prix racing finally came true with the Lotus 12, the beginning of the line of open-wheelers that eventually won seven F-1 constructors championships.

Chapman quickly drew up a new single-seat design and had a Lotus 12 prototype on display at the London Motor Show in October 1956.

The prototype was meant strictly for show, with a wooden transaxle, a frame with hardly any weld-metal, just enough room for a non-functional Climax FPF, and highly cambered de-Dion rear suspension.

The plan view was one of an exceptionally narrow car: the frame barely wide enough for the engine and the driver’s shoulders. In all a tiny package, with the driver sandwiched between the Climax FPF and a rear-mounted transmission. It was expected that 175 h.p. could be harnessed in just 620 lbs (290Kg) of race car. Chapman’s philosophy of economical use of space and mass was at, or beyond, its practical limits.

At the front the prototype had an innovation that had been on Chapman’s mind for months: a new twin-wishbone suspension here made its debut, replacing the infamous Lotus swing-axle. The new suspension incorporated an anti-roll bar that played double-duty as the forward half of the top wishbone. This setup became a standard of various Lotus cars for many years.

The Lotus 12 also introduced the ‘wobble web’ alloy wheel, another of Chapman’s initiatives, but made to work by designer ‘Mac’ McIntosh. However, many features of the prototype were not seen again, as production models were improved with better chassis and Chapman’s first use of strut-type suspension at the rear.

He called it a Lotus because he and his mates worked so many hours building it that they were continually falling asleep, which is what the Lotus flower is supposed to induce.

The car was successful and soon Chapman had a business building replicas of the original and with the money raised by this enterprise he started his own Team Lotus.

The story of the Lotus 12 Formula 1 debut started in the Monaco Grand Prix where Cliff Allison and Graham Hill raced with the cars equipped with 2 liter engines. Later that year, Cliff Allison finished at Belgian Grand Prix on Spa, consequently scoring the Lotus marque’s first World Championship point. The Lotus 12 being clocked at a topspeed of 178mph = 286 km/h.

But even more promising things awaited him at Spa during the Belgian Grand Prix. This event, at 24 laps (338 km) was technically too short to count for the World Championship, lasting as it did a mere 1 hr 37 min, but if it had been run a single lap longer, Allison’s Lotus would have almost certainly won! Tony Brooks’ winning Vanwall crossed the line with its gearbox tightening up, Mike Hawthorn’s second place Dino 246 blew its engine asunder as it accelerated down towards the line and Stuart Lewis-Evans’ third-placed Vanwall wobbled to a halt just after the finish with a broken front suspension wishbone . . . Cliff crossed the line, his Lotus in healthy fettle, in fourth place!

He was close to a win in Germany until his radiator burst. It should be recalled that Cliff managed to keep going to the end, finishing last of the six cars running.

This particular car has raced under the official Team Lotus in several Grand Prix races during 1958. The car is an important part of Lotus Grand Prix history as it took the first Grand Prix points ever for Lotus at the Dutch Grand Prix 1958. Below a list of races from 1958 were the car officially was raced.

Summary of Team Lotus’ 12 cars Grand Prix involvement in 1958

• First Lotus GP entry at Monaco 1958 (two cars #352 and #353)

• Directly to Dutch GP Zandvoort (two cars #352 and #353)

• Belgian GP Spa (two cars #352 and #353)

• GP de L’ ACF Reims France (one car #352)

• British GP Silverstone (one car #352)

• Grand Prix de Caen (no cars)

• German GP Nurburgring (no cars)

• Portuguese GP Oporto (no cars)

• Italian GP Monza (one car#352)

• Moroccan GP (one car#352)

Additional info

Power (HP) 175
Year of production 1957
Weight 290 Kg
Consider exchange? No
VAT included in the shown price? No
Manufacturer Lotus
Item condition Used
Ad ID #5298
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Lars-Göran Itskowitz
Lars-Göran Itskowitz
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