Rob Walker Racing’s ex-Jo Siffert1968 British Grand Prix-winning Lotus 49B is the most significant early 3-litre Formula One car to be offered for sale for many moons, and is the last privateer entry to win a World Championship round. Its consignment to Derbyshire-based H&H Auctions is a remarkable coup for the company, which puts it under the hammer in Buxton on July 28.
The opportunity to acquire a ‘one owner, always raced’ Grand Prix car in unspoiled original condition is rare indeed, and the Lotus – direct from the Walker family in familiar dark blue racing colours with white noseband – is certain to evoke enormous interest among marque enthusiasts the world over.
Chassis 49B R7 was delivered new for the Brands Hatch race, Lotus having previously loaned Rob Walker 49B R2 for the Race of Champions. But R2 was destroyed by fire in Walker’s Dorking garage while being repaired after Siffert crashed in practice for the race, which was led initially by the works 49s of Graham Hill and Jackie Oliver.
Fifth in the USA and sixth in Mexico rounded off the season, and strong results kept coming in 1969. It came fourth in South Africa, third in Monaco and was second in Holland and fifth in Germany. Recovering from leg injuries sustained at Watkins Glen the previous autumn, Hill raced R7 (by now updated to C spec) to sixth place in the 1970 South African GP at Kyalarni, fifth in the Race of Champions and fourth in the Spanish GP.
Having spent the last 15 years on loan to Tom Wheatcroft’s Donington Collection of Grand Prix cars (during which time it was returned to its original 49B spec) this famous slice of motor racing history could still have a big future in historic racing, where Classic Team Lotus and American former works driver Pete Lovely are already running Lotus 49s in Gold Leaf livery. An estimate of some £375,000 has been suggested for the unique Lotus 49 R7 by H&H’s spokesman Simon Hope.