Lotus needs your help to find its first car: Colin Chapman’s Mark I

Hazel Chapman in the Lotus Mark I

Lotus might be celebrating 70 years of building cars this year, but before the fireworks launch the British sports car brand has some unfinished business to tackle. Colin Chapman’s first car, the Lotus Mark I that he built in London in 1948, has been lost for more than six decades. Lotus wants your help to track it down.

Before Chapman founded Lotus, he was an engineer who decided to build his own car after getting involved with trials driving in England. The Mark I served as Chapman’s first attempt and would cement many of the practices Chapman carried into the formation of Lotus with Colin Dare.

The Mark I competed in numerous events in 1948, bringing home several awards. Unfortunately, the Mark I was sold in 1950 as Chapman put to work lessons learned from building and racing as he pursued his next iteration (the Mark II).

According to an ad in the November 1950 issue of Motor Sport magazine, the competitive trials car sold for £135. As for its destination, all Lotus knows is that the aluminum-paneled legend was bound for the north of England. While likely repainted since, it was last known to be red, with a layer of white underneath, and it carried two spare wheels in the rear of the body.

Lotus asked for help from professionals, but the search has come up fruitless thus far. The company hopes that a grassroots effort worldwide will bring to the long-lost car to light. Go out and do your best Barn Find Hunter impression, ask questions, sniff out those garages, and find cars. One of these days you might even a significant piece of history.