Lotus is enlisting the help of enthusiasts and car collectors around the world to help the Norfolk-based sports car manufacturer track down its first car.

The Lotus Mark I was Lotus’ inaugral model, and was built by the company’s founder Colin Chapman. It was built in 1948, but has been lost for nearly 70 years.

The car’s early whereabouts is well-documented. It was built by Chapman with the help of his friends and his girlfriend, and soon-to-be wife Hazel, and was entered into a number of period events, and with a lot of success.

Chapman sold the car in 1950 to help fund the second model – the Mark II – but after that, the car’s whereabouts became unknown. Despite numerous past attempts to find the car, they have always ended unsuccessfully.

(Colin Chapman Foundation)


Lotus is marking its 70th anniversary this year, and as part of the celebrations, the firm is reigniting a campaign to find the inaugural model, and has said it would be a “monumental achievement” to find the lost car.

Clive Chapman, son of the company’s founder and director of Classic Team Lotus, said: “The Mark I is the holy grail of Lotus’ history. 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.”

The Mark I was built in a garage at Chapman’s then-girlfriend’s parents’ house in his continued quest for improved performance. The Mark I was a re-engineered version of the Austin Seven, and was sold for a sum of £135, with the only known information about the car’s whereabouts being that it was sold at the time to someone in the north of England.

With the official 70th birthday being marked at the end of September, the firm’s hoping that renewed efforts can help find the lost model.

The firm is holding a birthday event at its Norfolk base for all Lotus owners, from past models through to its newest cars– the Elise, Exige, Evora and 3-Eleven.

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