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The company is based in East Anglia and was originally formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by the influential engineer Colin Chapman, in 1952. The Company's first factory was in old stables behind the Railway Hotel in Hornsea. Team Lotus was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994. Since the 1960s the company has occupied a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Norwich.
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.
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, performing development - particularly of suspension - for other car manufacturers.
As of 2005 the Malaysian company Proton organised Lotus as Group Lotus, divided into Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering. A Formula One team is in the works, according to rumour.
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 first Grand Prix for the marque in 1960. Major success came in 1963 with the Lotus 25, which - with Jim Clark driving - won Lotus its first F1 World Championship. Clark's untimely death - he crashed driving a Formula Two Lotus 48 in March 1968 after his rear tire failed in a turn - 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's early years. That year's championship was won by Clark's Lotus team-mate, Graham Hill.
Lotus is credited with establishing the mid-engine configuration as the best design for formula 1 and Indy cars, with developing the first monocoque Formula 1 chassis, and the integration of the engine and transaxle as chassis components. Lotus also was first with adding wings to Formula 1 cars to add downforce, as well as moving radiators to the sides in F1 cars 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 One. Ayrton Senna drove for the Lotus team from 1985 to 1987, winning twice in each year and achieving 17 pole positions. However, by the company's last Formula One race in 1994 the cars were no longer very competitive. During the Formula 1 years 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 Formula 1 race nine years before Lotus won their own first GP victory.
Formula One driver's world championships:
- 1963: Jim Clark
- 1965: Jim Clark
- 1968: Graham Hill
- 1970: Jochen Rindt - the only posthumous world champion
- 1972: Emerson Fittipaldi
- 1973: Formula One World Championship for Manufacturer's Only (Drivers Championship to Tyrrell)
- 1978: Mario Andretti
- Lotus Mk1 - 1948-1948 Austin 7 based trials 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 maneuver 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 Cars and Donkervoort.
- Lotus Eight - 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 dingle seater - Formula Junior/F2/F1
- Lotus 19 - 1960-1962 Mid-engined sports racer - AKA '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 - AKA the "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/F1 turbine wedge (56B for F1)
- 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 modifed 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 - 1973-1973 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 - 'Eclat 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 Eclat series 2
- Lotus 85 - 1980-1980 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 'Excel' GT - redesigned Eclat
- 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 96 - 1984-1984 Indy car project - abandoned
- Lotus 97T - 1985-1986 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 104 - 1990-1992 Tuned version of the standard Vauxhall Carlton saloon (aka Opel Omega Lotus).
- Lotus 105 - 1990-1990 Esprit X180R (race version)
- Lotus 106 - 1991-1991 Esprit X180R (street version)
- Lotus 107 - 1992-1994 F1
- Lotus 108 - 1992-1992 a bicycle - gold medal Barcelona Olympics
- Lotus 109 - 1994-1994 F1
- Lotus 111 - 1994-current Elise and Elise S2
- Lotus 112 - 1995-1995 F1
- Lotus 114 - 1995-1995 Esprit V8 GT1
- Lotus 115 - 1997-1997 Elise GT1
- Lotus 116 - 2000-2006 Vauxhal VX220 (aka Opel Speedster)
- Lotus 117 - ?
- Lotus 118 - 1999-1999 M250 prototype
- Lotus 119 - 2002-2003 soapbox gravity racer
- Lotus 120 - 1998-1998 Elise Coupè prototype
- Lotus 121 - 2006-current Europa S
- Lotus Carlton - 1990-1992 Tuned version of the standard Vauxhall saloon (designated Lotus 104).
- Lotus Excel - 1985-1992
- 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 - The Lotus Elite was an ultra-light 2-seater coupe, produced from 1958 to 1963. Its most unusual feature was its fibre glass unibody construction. Unlike the Corvette, which used fibre glass for exterior bodywork, the Elite actually used this glass-reinforced plastic material for the entire load-bearing structure of the car.
- Lotus Elan - Two generations of Elan were produced, both extremely innovative for their time. The first, in the 1960s, was 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. The second Elan was an innovative front-drive sports-convertible.
- Lotus Europa - 1966-1975 mid-engine sports car, the first affordable mid-engined road car ever produced.
- Lotus Elan - The second Elan, released in 1989, 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 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 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 (the car prominently featured in the 1977 James Bond|Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me and briefly in For Your Eyes Only. Later versions of the Esprit featured in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and in Basic Instinct. The styling was by Italian designer Giugiaro. The Esprit started with a light, high-strung 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 Europa S - The Grand Tourer (GT)-inspired two-seater provides Lotus customers with a spectacular sports car, with significantly enhanced levels of touring and cruising capability. It provides drivers with higher levels of practicality and refinement to complement the simplicity of the Lotus Elise and Exige models.
The Lotus Europa S follows the core Lotus philosophy of performance through light weight, obtained through the clever use of advanced and high-technology materials, including an extruded and bonded aluminium chassis, composite body panels and a very advanced composite energy-absorbing front crash structure.
- 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 Elise is the lightest car sold in America weighing 1980 lb.
- Lotus Exige - The Toyota-Engined coupe version of the Lotus Elise that provides more rigidity and with additional modifications to provide more downforce (and, thus, more of a circuit car than the standard Elise). The Exige is street legal and has been released for the price of $50,000.
- Lotus/Tesla Roadster - An electric roadster built by Lotus and designed by Tesla
- Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (also Opel Lotus Omega) (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).
- Lotus Talbot Sunbeam - Talbot's hot-hatch rally car of the '70s.
- Lotus Cortina - Lotus version of the famed Cortina.
- Lotus also produced the Vauxhall VX220 / Opel Speedster, based upon the same aluminium chassis design as the Lotus Elise. Production of these models ended in 2005
When Vauxhall unveiled its new slant-four engine at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show its bore centres were exactly the same as those proposed by Lotus. Colin Chapman immediately negotiated a deal with Vauxhall to buy some of their cast-iron blocks so that development of Lotus’ own aluminium cylinder head could be speeded up to produce the 9xx series engine used in the Eclat, Excel, Sunbeam and Esprit.
- 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 (or VVA for short).
Whereas the VVA technology will be used in the creation of a new mid-engined sports car 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.
- All cars by Lotus (except racing) begin with an E.
- Lotus is the name of a popular flower.
- Gerard ('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)
Concept: APX Concept · M90 · 340R · Exige GT3 · Hot Wheels Concept · Eco Elise Concept · M250 Concept · Evora 414E Hybrid Concept · Evora Carbon Concept · Etna Concept · City Car Concept · Elise Concept · Elan Concept · Esprit Concept · Elite Concept · Eterne Concept
Racing: T127 · 2-Eleven · Evora Type 124 · Evora Cup · Cosworth KV Racing IndyCar · Mk1 · Mk2 · Mk3 · Mk4 · Mk5 · 6 · 7 · Mk8 · Mk9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 20B · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 27 · 29 · 30 · 31 · 32 · 33 · 34 · 38 · 39 · 42 · 43 · 48 · 49 · 56 · 56B · 63 · 64 · 72 · 76 · 77 · 78 · 79 · 80 · 81 · 85 · 86 · 87 · 88 · 91 · 92 · 93T · 94T · 95T · 96T · 97T · 98T · 99T · 100T · 101 · 102 · 105 · 107 · 109 · 112 · 114 · 115 · 119 · Exos Type 125
|Colin Chapman||Corporate website||A Division of Group Lotus|
- Group Lotus Official Site
- Lotus Cars
- Lotus Cars USA
- Colin Chapman biography by Dennis David
- Classic Team Lotus (Lotus 78/79/80)
- Hethel airfield (site of test track)
- Lotus Club Online. Official site for ClubLotus the worlds largest independent Lotus Owners club
- Lotus Esprit World - Lotus Engine Development
- Lotus and Spyker Join Forces, Sign New Cooperation Agreement
- Lotus to Develop "OMNIVORE" Bio-Fuel Research Engine
- Lotus develops Concept Ice Vehicle for Antarctic expedition
- Lotus Returns To Formula 1!