About Lotus"Simplify, then add lightness" is the motto under which Lotus has operated under since its founding in 1952. Colin Chapman initially set up shop in a set of stables behind a hotel in North London. A purpose built factory was made in 1959 in Chestnut, but the stay there was short. The company continues to operate at the modern facility they moved into in 1966 at Hethel, England.
Lotus would have no history without its racing history. A part of the company, Team Lotus, was only four years old before the first race cars competed in Formula One. Lotus had a continuous presence there from 1958 to 1994, winning seven constructor's titles, six driver's championships, and even the Indianapolis 500. A Lotus Racing team returned to Formula One competition in 2010.
The most famous first Lotus was the Seven. It was a no-frills racer, whose name was sold off to Caterham Cars in 1973 and continues to be manufactured... View more today. The Type 14 Elite, produced from 1958 to 1963, was the first Lotus to offer a closed passenger compartment, as well as the first production street car.
A styling exercise from Giugiaro Design in 1974 brought forth the first Esprit. Inquiries were so numerous Lotus decided to make the car. "The Spy Who Loved Me" featured James Bond piloting a submarine version of the car. It proved popular that production, in all its variants, lasted until 2004. A new model bearing the name is planned for 2013.
Lotus hasn't been just a builder of cars; they are an engineering house as well. The LT5, with input from GM, was designed by Lotus to power the 1990-1995 Corvette ZR-1. The ill-fated DeLorean DMC-12's chassis was engineered by Lotus. They've been consulted on suspension calibration and design for vehicles including Toyota's MR2 and Nissan GT-R.
Chapman died in 1982 after a heart attack, while his name was entangled in the DeLorean scandal. Financial backing from American Express was withdrawn from the company shortly afterwards. General Motors bought 91% of the company in 1986 for œ22.7m. In 1993, GM sold of control of Lotus to an Italian, Romano Artioli, who also owned Bugatti at the time.
The Elise was named after Artioli's granddaughter, Elisa, and introduced in 1996. It weighed in at 1,600 pounds, but was unable to be produced past the 2000 model year in light of European crash regulations. Former owner GM stepped in to fund the project in exchange for a platform to be sold under the Opel and Vauxhall brands. In 2005 the Elise made its debut in the U.S.
Proton, a Malaysian car manufacturer, acquired almost 64% of Lotus shortly after the Elise came out and upped the total to 100% in 2003. Dany Bahar replaced retiring Michael Kimberley as CEO in July 2009 and began a revamping of the company product portfolio.
The new models created a stir in the automotive world, as they were heavier than past Lotus products. The first of these was the Evora, debuting as a 2010 model. Praise came from several publications, which gave the car 2009 performance car of the year awards. View less
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