Lotus Cars is a British manufacturer of sports and racing cars based at Hethel, Norfolk, England. The company designs and builds race and production automobiles of light weight and high handling characteristics.
The company was formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by engineer Colin Chapman, a graduate of University College, London, in 1952. The first factory was in old stables behind the Railway Hotel in Hornsey. Team Lotus, which was split off from Lotus Engineering in 1954, was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994. The Lotus Group of Companies was formed in 1959. This was made up of Lotus Cars Limited and Lotus Components Limited which focussed on road car and customer competition car production respectively. Lotus Components Limited became Lotus Racing Limited in 1971 but the newly renamed entity ceased operation in the same year.
The company moved to a purpose built factory at Cheshunt in 1959 and since 1966 the company has occupied a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Wymondham. This site is the former RAF Hethel base and the test track uses sections of the old runway.
Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982, at the age of 54, having begun life an inn-keeper's son and ended a multi-millionaire industrialist in post-war Britain. The carmaker built tens of thousands of successful racing and road cars and won the Formula One World Championship seven times. At the time of his death he was linked with the DeLorean scandal over the use of government subsidies for the production of the De Lorean DMC-12 for which Lotus had designed the chassis.
In 1986 the company was bought by General Motors. On August 27, 1993, GM sold the company, for £30 million, to A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, a company controlled by Italian businessman Romano Artioli, who also owned Bugatti Automobili SpA. In 1996 a majority share in Lotus was sold to Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), a Malaysian car company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
The company also acts as an engineering consultancy, providing engineering development—particularly of suspension—for other car manufacturers. The lesser known Powertrain department is responsible for the design and development of the 4 cylinder engine found in many of GM's Vauxhall, Opel, Saab, and possibly some Saturn cars. It should however be noted that the current Lotus Elise and Exige models use the 1.8L VVTL-i I4 from Toyota's late Celica GT-S and the Matrix XRS.
The company is organized as Group Lotus, which is divided into Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering. Contrary to some rumours, there are no plans to create a Formula One Team. This is more likely to be due to the massive financial input required over and above any of the company's wishes.
Michael Kimberley took over as Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Company and its Group from May 2006. He currently chairs the Executive Committee of Lotus Group International Limited ("LGIL") established in February 2006, with Syed Zainal Abidin (Managing Director of Proton Holdings Berhad) and Badrul Feisal (non-executive director of Proton Holdings Berhad). LGIL is the holding company of Lotus Group Plc.
The company encouraged its customers to race its cars, and itself entered Formula One as a team in 1958. A Lotus Formula One car driven by Stirling Moss won the marque's first Grand Prix in 1960 at Monaco in a Lotus 18 entered by privateer Rob Walker. Major success came in 1963 with the Lotus 25, which—with Jim Clark driving—won Lotus its first F1 World Constructors Championship. Clark's untimely death — he crashed a Formula Two Lotus 48 in April 1968 after his rear tyre failed in a turn in Hockenheim — was a severe blow to the team and to Formula One. He was the dominant driver in the dominant car and remains an inseparable part of Lotus' early years. That year's championship was won by Clark's teammate, Graham Hill.
Lotus is credited with making the mid-engined layout popular for Indycars, developing the first monocoque Formula 1 chassis, and the integration of the engine and transaxle as chassis components. Lotus was also among the pioneers in Formula 1 in adding wings and shaping the undersurface of the car to create downforce, as well as the first to move radiators to the sides in the car to aid in aerodynamic performance, and inventing active suspension.
Even after Chapman's death, until the late 1980s, Lotus continued to be a major player in Formula 1. Ayrton Senna drove for the team from 1985 to 1987, winning twice in each year and achieving 17 pole positions. However, by the company's last Formula 1 race in 1994, the cars were no longer competitive. Lotus won a total of 79 Grand Prix races. During his lifetime Chapman saw Lotus beat Ferrari as the first team to achieve 50 Grand Prix victories, despite Ferrari having won their first nine years sooner.
Formula One Constructors' Championships (Drivers' Championship winner for Lotus)
Lotus car models
- Lotus Mk1 - 1948-1948 Austin 7 based car
- Lotus Mk2 - 1949-1950 Ford powered trials car
- Lotus Mk3 - 1951-1951 750 cc formula car
- Lotus Mk4 - 1952-1952 Trials car
- Lotus Mk5 - 1952-1952 750 cc formula car - never built
- Lotus 6 - 1953-1955 The first 'production' racer - about 100 built
- Lotus Seven - 1957-1970 Classic open sports car, a minimalist machine designed to manoeuvre a racing circuit and nothing else. The rights to the Seven were sold in 1973 to Caterham Cars, who continue to produce it today. Updated versions of this 1957 design are also produced by other specialty firms, including Westfield Sportscars and Donkervoort. Originally the number seven was applied to a Riley-powered Formula 2 car, but the vehicle was never completed in its original form, finally emerging instead as the Clairmonte Special, a two-seat sports car powered by a Lea-Francis engine.
- Lotus Mk8 - 1954-1954 sports racer
- Lotus Nine - 1955-1955 sports racer, based on Eight
- Lotus Ten - 1955-1955 sports racer, a more powerful Eight
- Lotus Eleven - 1956-1957 sports racer
- Lotus Twelve - Formula 2 and Formula 1 racecar (1956-1957)
- Lotus 13 - Designation not used
- Lotus 14 - 1957-1963 First production street car – the Elite
- Lotus 15 - 1958-1958 Sports racer – successor to the Eleven
- Lotus 16 - 1958-1959 F1/F2 car based on the Twelve
- Lotus 17 - 1959-1959 Sports racer update of the 15 – not successful
- Lotus 18 - 1960-1961 First mid-engined Lotus single seater – Formula Junior/F2/F1
- Lotus 19 - 1960-1962 Mid-engined sports racer – "Monte Carlo"
- Lotus 20 - 1961-1961 Formula Junior
- Lotus 21 - 1961-1961 Formula 1
- Lotus 22 - 1962-1965 Formula Junior/F3
- Lotus 23 - 1962-1966 Small displacement mid-engined sports racer
- Lotus 24 - 1962-1962 Formula 1
- Lotus 25 - 1962-1964 Formula 1 World Champion
- Lotus 26 - 1962-1971 Production street sports car – the original Elan.
- Lotus 27 - 1963-1963 Formula Junior
- Lotus 28 - 1963-1966 Lotus version of the Ford Cortina street/racer
- Lotus 29 - 1963-1963 Indy car - Ford stock block
- Lotus 30 - 1964-1964 Large displacement sports racer (Ford V8)
- Lotus 31 - 1964-1966 Formula 3 space frame racer
- Lotus 32 - 1964-1965 Monocoque F2 and Tasman Cup racer
- Lotus 33 - 1964-1965 Formula 1 World Champion
- Lotus 34 - 1964-1964 Indy car - DOHC Ford
- Lotus 35 - 1965-1965 F2/F3/FB
- Lotus 36 - 1965-1968 Street sports car – "Elan"
- Lotus 37 - 1965-1965 a one-off Seven with IRS – "Three Seven"
- Lotus 38 - 1965-1965 Indy winning mid-engined car
- Lotus 39 - 1965-1966 Tasman Cup formula car
- Lotus 40 - 1965-1965 Improved(?) version of the 30
- Lotus 41 - 1965-1968 Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula B
- Lotus 42 - 1967-1967 Indy car – raced with Ford V8
- Lotus 43 - 1966-1966 Formula 1
- Lotus 44 - 1967-1967 Formula 2
- Lotus 45 - 1966-1974 Convertible (Drop Head Coupe) version of the "Elan"
- Lotus 46 - 1966-1968 Original Renault-engined Europa
- Lotus 47 - 1966-1970 Racing version of Europa
- Lotus 48 - 1967-1967 Formula 2
- Lotus 49 - 1967-1969 Formula 1 World Champion
- Lotus 50 - 1967-1974 Four-seat "Elan +2" production car
- Lotus 51 - 1967-1969 Formula Ford
- Lotus 52 - 1968-1968 Prototype "Europa" twincam
- Lotus 53 - 1968-1968 Small displacement sports racer never built
- Lotus 54 - 1968-1970 Series 2 "Europa" production car.
- Lotus 55 - 1968-1968 F3
- Lotus 56 - 1968-1971 Indy turbine wedge/F1 turbine (56B)
- Lotus 57 - 1968-1968 F2 design study
- Lotus 58 - 1968-1968 F1 design study
- Lotus 59 - 1969-1970 F2/F3/Formula Ford
- Lotus 60 - 1970-1973 Greatly modified version of the Seven – AKA Seven S4
- Lotus 61 - 1969-1969 Formula ford wedge
- Lotus 62 - 1969-1969 (prototype Europa racer)
- Lotus 63 - 1969-1969 4-wheel drive F1
- Lotus 64 - 1969-1969 4-wheel drive Indy cars – did not compete
- Lotus 65 - 1969-1971 ("Federalized" Europa S2)
- Lotus 66 - designation not used
- Lotus 67 - 1970-1970 Proposed Tasman Cup car – never built
- Lotus 68 - 1969-1969 F5000 prototype
- Lotus 69 - 1970-1970 F2/F3/Formula Ford
- Lotus 70 - 1970-1970 F5000/Formula A
- Lotus 71 - Undisclosed design study
- Lotus 72 - 1970-1972 Formula 1 World Champion
- Lotus 73 - 1972-1973 F3
- Lotus 74 - 1971-1975 Europa Twin Cam production cars
- Lotus 75 - 1974-1982 Luxury 4 seat GT – "Elite II"
- Lotus 76 - 1975-1982 Fastback version of Elite II – "Éclat S1" – also 1974 F1
- Lotus 77 - 1976-1976 F1
- Lotus 78 - 1977-1978 F1 ground effects car
- Lotus 79 - 1978-1979 Formula 1 World Champion – also street GT "Esprit" (1975-1980)
- Lotus 80 - 1979-1979 F1
- Lotus 81 - 1980-1981 F1 – designation also used for Sunbeam Talbot rally car
- Lotus 82 - 1982-current Turbo Esprit street GT car
- Lotus 83 - 1980-1980 Elite series 2
- Lotus 84 - 1980-1982 Éclat series 2
- Lotus 85 - 1980-1987 Esprit series 3
- Lotus 86 - 1980-1983 F1 dual chassis – never raced
- Lotus 87 - 1980-1982 F1
- Lotus 88 - 1981-1981 F1 dual chassis car – banned
- Lotus 89 - 1982-1992 Lotus Excel GT – re-engineered Éclat
- Lotus 90 - Unreleased Elan/Toyota
- Lotus 91 - 1982-1982 F1
- Lotus 92 - 1983-1983 F1
- Lotus 93T - 1983-1983 F1 Turbo
- Lotus 94T - 1983-1983 F1 Turbo
- Lotus 95T - 1984-1984 F1 Turbo
- Lotus 96T - 1984-1984 Indy car project – abandoned
- Lotus 97T - 1985-1986 F1 Turbo
- Lotus 98T - 1986-1987 F1 Turbo
- Lotus 99T - 1987-1987 F1 Turbo – last Lotus F1 winner
- Lotus 100T - 1988-1988 F1 Turbo
- Lotus M100 - 1989-1995 Front-drive convertible "Elan"
- Lotus 101 - 1989-1989 F1
- Lotus 102 - 1990-1991 F1
- Lotus 103 - 1990-1990 F1 – not produced
- Lotus 105 - 1990-1990 Racing X180R IMSA Supercars Drivers Champ Doc Bundy
- Lotus 106 - 1991-1991 X180R roadgoing homolgation special
- Lotus 107 - 1992-1994 F1
- Lotus 108 - 1992 - 1992 a bicycle ridden by Chris Boardman to win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, also known as the "LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle".
- Lotus 109 - 1994-1994 F1 – Last Lotus F1 car.
- Lotus 110 - Production version of type 108 bicycle
- Lotus 111 - The Lotus Elise
- Lotus 112 - Final partial F1 design, got as far as the monocoque buck
- Lotus 113 - Number not allocated
- Lotus 114 - 1995-1995
- Lotus 115 - 1997-1998 – Lotus GT Race Car
- Lotus 116 - The Vauxhall VX220 / Opel Speedster, a collaboration with GM 'type 116' forums
- Lotus 117 - Lotus Elise Mk2
- Lotus 118 -
- Lotus 119 - Soapbox derby car Light vehicle out of carbon and aluminium, brakes discs, without engine, built for the race of the festival of speed of Goodwood
- Lotus 120 - 1998 Elise V6 code named M120 Was never produced
- Lotus 121 - 2006 Europa S
- Lotus Carlton - 1990-1992 Tuned version of the standard Vauxhall saloon (designated Lotus 104).
- Lotus Excel - 1985-1992 Updated Elite with Toyota running gear. 2159 Excels were made.
- Lotus Eclat - (1975-1982) Fastback version of the Elite. The rear roof line of the Elite was sloped down into a sporty fastback.
- Lotus Elite - Describes two cars, one an ultra-light two-seater coupé produced from 1957 to 1962, one an angular 3 door hatch with a back bone chassis produced from 1974 to 1982.
- Lotus Elan - A small light roadster that made use of the Lotus-trademark steel backbone frame, coupled with a fibre glass body. This car was the design inspiration for the 1990 Mazda MX-5 / Miata.
- Lotus Elan M100 - The second car that used the Elan name, released in 1989. It was a technical tour de force but one that also defied Lotus' 'performance through light weight' tradition, to its detriment. The idea of a front-drive Lotus, powered by a Japanese turbo-charged engine, was a brave concept and its cornering performance was undeniable. But the handling was negatively compared to the original Elan by some Lotus loyalists and its relatively high price (vs., e.g., the Mazda MX-5) meant that it was not a sales success.
- Lotus Europa - 1966-1975 mid-engine sports car.
- Lotus Esprit - A mid-engined sports car, launched in the early 1970s. The Esprit shocked many at its launch; its geometric, laser-cut lines seemed far more futuristic than anything on the road—or on the cinema screen, for that matter. It was styled by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Esprit started with a light, 4-cylinder design, which went through several iterations of turbo-charging and electronic upgrades, before finally being replaced by a highly-advanced V8. The last Lotus Esprit rolled off the production line on 20 February, 2004, after 28 years in production. A total of 10,675 Esprits were built since production began in 1976.
- Lotus M250 - (2000) Concept car that never reached production
- Lotus Elise - The Elise incorporates many engineering innovations, such as an aluminum extrusion frame and a composite body shell. The Elise has also spawned several racing variants, including an exotic limited series called the 340R, which has an open-body design echoing the famed Seven. The Elise was recently introduced into the U.S., with a Toyota engine, in order to pass strict U.S. emissions laws. The 1ZZ & 2ZZ Toyota engines used have a Lotus ECU with their own fuel mapping. Also see the related Tesla Roadster below.
- Lotus Eco Elise is a version of its classic sports car that incorporates solar panels into a roof made from hemp, while also employing natural materials in the body and interior of the car.
- Lotus Exige - A version of the Lotus Elise with a redesigned body to provide additional downforce (100 lb at 100 mph). Additionally, the following Elise Sport Pack and Hardtop options are standard on the Exige. The car is street legal and the base 2006 model was available for $50,990. Lotus updated the Exige with the supercharged Exige S in 2007.
- Lotus Exige S - An Exige with a supercharged engine providing 220 hp. The non-S Exige and Elise have .
- Lotus Europa S - The Grand Tourer (GT)-inspired two-seater is claimed to offer a more upmarket sportscar experience, although it is based on the same chassis as the Elise and Exige, limited accommodation and practicality. Power comes from a Lotus-tuned variant of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine which powers the VX220. The Europa has been criticised in the motoring press for being expensive and for lacking equipment and practicality compared to rivals like the Porsche Cayman.
- Lotus Evora Launched 22nd July, 2008. Code named Project Eagle during development. A 2+2 sports car with a mid mounted, transverse 3.5 litre V6 engine.
- Lotus 2-Eleven Weighing just and with the Lotus 2-Eleven can sprint from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of . Intended as a track day car it costs £39,995 but for an additional £1,100 Lotus will make the car fully road legal.
- Lotus Exige 265E is an experimental Bioethanol car.
Projects Undertaken by Lotus Engineering
Lotus Engineering Limited, is an offshoot of Lotus Cars, which engineer cars for third party companies. Examples are shown here:-
- Lotus Cortina—Lotus version of the famed Ford Cortina Mk. I.
- Lotus Talbot Sunbeam—Talbot's hot-hatch rally car of the early '80s.
- Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (also Opel Lotus Omega, internal name Lotus Type 104) - At the time (early 1990s) this was the fastest saloon car available, with a top speed of over 170 mph (274 km/h).
- The 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T with a version of the 2.2 L K-car engine with a 16-valve DOHC head designed by Lotus with over 220 HP.
- Vauxhall VX220 (also Opel Speedster) - Lotus produced and based upon the same aluminium chassis design as the Lotus Elise. Production of these models ended in 2005
- Lotus styled and assisted with the engineering of the Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car, as well as licensing some technologies to Tesla Motors and constructing the Roadster at their plant in Hethel.
- Lotus was responsible for most of the design, development, and testing, of the LT5 DOHC V8 powerplant for the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.
- Lotus was responsible for various aspects of the Sinclair C5 electric tricycle.
- Lotus was responsible for the suspension calibration of the Toyota MR2 Mk. I, the Toyota Supra Mk. II and Mk. III, the Isuzu Piazza, the Isuzu Impulse as well as various Proton models.
- Lotus was responsible for the development of the Campro engine together with Proton, as well as its variable valve timing system, the Cam Profile Switching (CPS). Currently available in the 1.6-liter and 1.3-liter variants, the Campro engine now powers most of Proton's newer models.
- Lotus has worked on the suspension of the Mahindra Scorpio to make it more stable at high speeds.
- Lotus is partnering with ZAP on the design of their next electric vehicle, the ZAP-X, based on the APX concept vehicle.
- Lotus Produced the revised Chassis of the Isuzu Piazza
- APX (also known as the "Aluminium Performance Crossover")
The APX is an aluminium concept vehicle revealed at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show built on Lotus Engineering's Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA).
Whereas the VVA technology will be used in the creation of a new mid-engined sportscar for Lotus cars, the APX is in fact a high performance 7 seat MPV with four-wheel drive and a front mounted V6 engine from Lotus Engineering's Powertrain division. The engine was designed and developed to be available as a 2.2 litre N/A and 3.0 litre supercharged. A number of prototypes of both engines exist in full working order in a number of mule cars.
On September 20, 2007 Lotus Engineering released a five year construction plan in which new models would be created in the United States. It also states that there will be a rapid expansion of the US Lotus Engineering Program. Three new models are to be created around the 2010 year period, a 2+2 coupe, a brand new Lotus Excel, and of course the 2009 Esprit.
Lotus Engineering has established a group dedicated to hybrid and electric vehicles.
- Gérard ('Jabby') Crombac, Colin Chapman: The Man and His Cars (Patrick Stephens, Wellingborough, 1986)
- Mike Lawrence, Colin Chapman: The Wayward Genius (Breedon Books, Derby, 2002)
- Ian H. Smith, The Story of Lotus: 1947-1960 Birth of a Legend (republished Motor Racing Publications, Chiswick, 1972)
- Doug Nye, The Story of Lotus: 1961-1971 Growth of a Legend (Motor Racing Publications, Chiswick, 1972)
- Robin Read, Colin Chapman's Lotus: The early years, the Elite and the origins of the Elan (Haynes, Sparkford, 1989)
- Anthony Pritchard, Lotus: All The Cars (Aston Publications, Bourne End, 1990)
- Doug Nye, Theme Lotus: 1956-1986 (Motor Racing Publications, Croydon, 1986)
- Peter Ross, Lotus - The Early Years 1951-54 (Coterie Press, Luton, 2004)
- Rémy Solnon, Lotus Esprit - le grand tourisme à l'anglaise (Editions Les Presses Littéraires, 2007)
- Andrew Ferguson, Team Lotus: The Indianapolis Years (Haynes Publishing 1996) no longer available
Versatile Vehicle Architecture
Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) is an effort by the Lotus
car manufacturing company to reduce the investment needed for producing unique, niche-market cars by sharing a number of common components.
Cars produced using VVA