In its 70th anniversary year, Lotus is calling on enthusiasts, collectors and car hunters worldwide to help track down the long-lost Lotus Mark I, the whereabouts of which have been unknown for 60 years. The Mark I was the first car built by company founder Colin Chapman, who put it together with the help of friends and his girlfriend (later wife) Hazel in 1948. The work took place in a lock-up in London, borrowed from Hazel’s parents. The car was completed in the spring and entered in a number of challenging trials competitions. Success was immediate, but Chapman was constantly innovating and was soon hard at work on the Mark II.
Despite its existence being well documented, the current whereabouts of the Mark I remain a mystery. Chapman sold it for £135 in November 1950, but from then on the car’s trail goes cold. The only thing now known about the new owner was that they were based in the north of England.
Joining Lotus in the hunt is Colin’s son and the director of Classic Team Lotus, Clive Chapman. “The Mark I is the holy grail of Lotus’s history,” he explained. “It’s the first time that my father was able to put his theories for improved performance into practice when designing and building a car. To locate this landmark Lotus, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary, would be a monumental achievement. 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 enthusiasts have searched for the car, but to no avail. It’s hoped that a renewed search, on a global scale, will finally help locate this landmark car.