In this Lotus Cars history, we briefly look at the origin, models, information, and facts about the Lotus Cars brand.
Lotus Cars is a manufacturer of sports cars and racing cars based in Britain.
Currently owned by Geely, Lotus Cars do not boast of the popularity some of its rivals in the sports cars market has.
The company, which has an extensive history in Formula One, has won seven Formula Championship to establish itself as a foremost player in motorsports.
Lotus Cars, through consultancy engineering arm, Lotus Engineering, has also partnered with major brands in the automotive industry to further the company’s interest.
Of the many partnerships Lotus Cars have been involved in, the U.K. Government Technology Strategy Board funded the “Limo Green” project that has seen the company partner with Jaguar Cars to produce a luxury hybrid executive sedan is the most foremost partnership in the company’s history.
To further ensure it rises to become a top player in the Automotive industry, Lotus Cars has begun developing an electric sports car, called the Evija, which it unveiled to the world in 2019.
Lotus Cars Brand Information
- Year Founded: 1948
- Founder: Colin Chapman
- Headquarters: Hethel, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
- CEO: Phil Popham
- Owners: Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (51%); Etika Automotive (49%)
- Website: www.lotuscars.com
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube
Lotus Cars History
In 1952, two University College London graduates, Colin Chapman, who had previously built a car, and Colin Dare, founded Lotus Engineering Ltd.
The company had its factory in Hornsey, North London, behind the Rails hotel.
Two years after the company’s founding, the company birth Team Lotus, which competed in the Formula One for four decades.
The need for organization in the company’s affairs led to the creation of Lotus Components Limited and Lotus Cars Limited in 1959.
The companies were under the Lotus Group of Companies.
Lotus Components Limited, which was renamed Lotus Racing Limited in 1971, focused on consumer competition cars’ production while Lotus Cars Limited produced road cars.
The organization of the company’s affairs saw its factory relocated to Chestnuts in 1959.
However, they relocated to a modern Factory in 1960 at Hethel, Norfolk, where the company has since been producing its cars.
As the 1960s ended, and the 1970s were ushered in, Lotus, who had been selling its cars as kits to avoid purchase tax, ended the practice.
In 1980, Lotus encountered serious financial challenges due to the world’s economic recession, that its car production, which was 1,200, dropped to as low as 383.
Colin Chapman had to exchange intellectual property applied expertise with Toyota in 1982.
Lotus, through Lotus Engineering, thus helped produce the Mk2 Toyota Supra.
That deal with Toyota led to the Lotus Eclat successor’s production, the Lotus Excel, which was manufactured using Toyota’s components.
With the company recovering from its financial mishaps, Lotus planned to begin sales in North America again.
Chapman was approached by Joe Bianco, an investment banking consultant and professor who advised that a new sales company be established in the U.S.
That led to the establishment of Lotus Performance Cars Inc. (L.P.C.I.).
Sales thus increased for Lotus in the U.S., to as much as three figures yearly.
In December 1984, Colin Chapman died of heart attack at the age of 54. Chapman died at a crucial point in the company’s history.
The company and himself were embroiled in the DeLorean Motor Company scandal, where Lotus was accused of making use of U.K. Government subsidies to produce the chassis of the D.M.C. DeLorean.
In Lotus accountant’s trial, the Judge stated that if Chapman had stood trial, he’d have a sentence of nothing less than ten years.
David Wickins, who founded British Motor Auctions who had taken a 29% personal stake in Lotus in 1983, at the height of the company’s financial woes, negotiated with the U.K. Inland Revenues and new investors were brought in to Group Lotus.
Wickins helped the company return to a point where its fortune was what it used to be.
He is referred to as the “Savior of Lotus.”
In January 1986, Wickins went on to sell the majority of Group Lotus stakes to General Motors and 100% stake of Lotus American-based L.P.C.I.
When G.M. bought 91% of Lotus stakes, Toyota, who jointly owned the company with G.M., was directed to sell its stakes.
In August 1993, Lotus ownership changed hands; this time, G.M. sold to A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg.
Lotus’ new owner went on to sell a majority stake in Lotus to a Malaysian company, Proton, in 1996.
Geely bought 51% of Lotus in 2017, while 49% went on to Etika Automotive.
Lotus Cars Logo History & Facts
- The four letters in the middle of the Lotus logo are the initials of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, the company’s founder.
- Lotus makes use of fewer materials to build its cars, thus making its cars very light.
- Lotus Cars were manufactured as kit cars until the 1960s.
Lotus Cars Models
- Lotus Elise (1996–Present)
- Lotus Exige (2000–Present)
- Lotus Evora (2008–Present)
- Lotus Evija (2019–Present): British All Electric Hypercar
- Lotus Mark I (1948): Austin 7–based sports car
- Lotus Mark II (1949–1950): Ford-powered trials car
- Lotus Mark III (1951): 750 cc formula car
- Lotus Mark IV (1952): Trials car
- Lotus Mark V (1952): 750 cc formula car, never built
- Lotus Mark VI (1953–1955): The first “production” racer, about 100 built
- Lotus Seven (1957–1972): A minimalist open sports car designed to maneuver a racing circuit.
- Lotus Mark VIII (1954): sports racer, MG 1.5 L
- Lotus Mark IX (1955): sports racer, shorter and improved Eight
- Lotus Mark X (1955): sports racer for larger displacement, Bristol/BMW 2 L
- Lotus Eleven (1956–1957): small-displacement sports racer (750 – 1500 cc)
- Lotus 12 (1956–1957): Formula Two and Formula One racecar
- Lotus 13: Designation not used
- Lotus 14 (1957–1963): Lotus Elite, the first production streetcar
- Lotus 15 (1958–1960): Sports racer, an update of the Mk.X, Climax 1.5 – 2.5 L
- Lotus 16 (1958–1959): F1/F2 car, “Miniature Vanwall.”
- Lotus 17 (1959): Lighter sports racer update of the 11 in response to Lola Mk.I
- Lotus 18 (1960–1961): First mid-engined Lotus single-seater—Formula Junior/F2/F1
- Lotus 19 (1960–1962): Mid-engined larger displacement sports racer, “Monte Carlo.”
- Lotus 20 (1961): Formula Junior
- Lotus 21 (1961): Formula One
- Lotus 22 (1962–1965): Formula Junior/F3
- Lotus 23 (1962–1966): Small displacement mid-engined sports racer
- Lotus 24 (1962): Formula One
- Lotus 25 (1962–1964): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 26 (1962–1971): Lotus Elan, production street sports car
- Lotus 26R (1962–1966): A racing version of Elan
- Lotus 27 (1963): Formula Junior
- Lotus 28 (1963–1966): Lotus version of the Ford Cortina street/racer
- Lotus 29 (1963): Indy car, Ford all-aluminium OHV small block V8
- Lotus 30 (1964): Large displacement sports racer (Ford small block V8)
- Lotus 31 (1964–1966): Formula Three space frame racer
- Lotus 32 (1964–1965): Monocoque F2 and Tasman Cup racer
- Lotus 33 (1964–1965): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 34 (1964): Indy car, DOHC Ford V8
- Lotus 35 (1965): F2/F3/FB
- Lotus 36 (1965–1968): Elan Fixed Head Coupe (Type 26 could be fitted with a removable hardtop)
- Lotus 38 (1965): Indy winning mid-engined car
- Lotus 39 (1965–1966): Tasman Cup formula car
- Lotus 40 (1965): Sports racer, a development of the 30
- Lotus 41 (1965–1968): Formula Three, Formula Two, Formula B
- Lotus 42 (1967): Indy car, Ford V8
- Lotus 43 (1966): Formula One
- Lotus 44 (1967): Formula Two
- Lotus 45 (1966–1974): Convertible (Drop Head Coupe) Elan with permanent side window frames.
- Lotus 46 (1966–1968): Original Renault-engined Europa
- Lotus 47 (1966–1970): A racing version of Europa
- Lotus 48 (1967): Formula Two
- Lotus 49 (1967–1969): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 50 (1967–1974): Lotus Elan +2, four-seat production car
- Lotus 51 (1967–1969): Formula Ford
- Lotus 52 (1968): Prototype Europa Twin Cam
- Lotus 53 (1968): Small displacement sports racer, never built
- Lotus 54 (1968–1970): Series 2 ‘Europa’ production car.
- Lotus 55 (1968): F3
- Lotus 56 (1968–1969): Indy turbine wedge
- Lotus 56B (1971): F1 turbine wedge
- Lotus 57 (1968): F2 design study
- Lotus 58 (1968): F1 design study
- Lotus 59 (1969–1970): F2/F3/Formula Ford
- Lotus LX (1960): Lotus Elite was built to win at Le Mans with a 2.0 L FPF engine.
- Lotus 60 (1970–1973): Lotus Seven S4, Greatly modified version of the Seven
- Lotus 61 (1969): Formula Ford, “the wedge.”
- Lotus 62 (1969): prototype Europa racer
- Lotus 63 (1969): 4-wheel drive F1
- Lotus 64 (1969): 4-wheel drive Indy car, did not compete
- Lotus 65 (1969–1971): Federalized Europa S2
- Lotus 66: Can-Am design study
- Lotus 67 (1970): Proposed Tasman Cup car, never built
- Lotus 68 (1969): F5000 prototype
- Lotus 69 (1970): F2/F3/Formula Ford
- Lotus 70 (1970): F5000/Formula A
- Lotus 71: Undisclosed design study
- Lotus 72 (1970–1972): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 73 (1972–1973): F3
- Lotus 74 – Texaco Star (1973): F2
- Lotus 74 (1971–1975): Europa Twin Cam production car
- Lotus 75 (1974–1982): Elite II, Luxury 4-seat GT
- Lotus 76 (1974): F1, redundant designation
- Lotus 76 (1975–1982): Éclat S1, fastback version of Elite II, redundant designation
- Lotus 77 (1976): F1
- Lotus 78 (1977–1978): F1 ground effects car
- Lotus 79 (1975–1980) Lotus Esprit, street GT, redundant designation
- Lotus 79 (1978–1979): Formula One World Champion, redundant designation
- Lotus 80 (1979): F1
- Lotus 81 (1979–1980): Sunbeam Talbot Lotus, redundant designation
- Lotus 81 (1980–1981): F1, redundant designation
- Lotus 82 (1982–1987): Turbo Esprit, street GT car
- Lotus 83 (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): F1 dual chassis car, banned
- Lotus 89 (1982–1992): Lotus Excel GT, re-engineered Éclat
- Lotus M90/X100: Toyota-based “new Elan,” abandoned in favor of the Elan M100
- Lotus 91 (1982): F1
- Lotus 92 (1983): F1
- Lotus 93T (1983): F1 Turbo
- Lotus 94T (1983): F1 Turbo
- Lotus 95T (1984): F1 Turbo
- Lotus 96T (1984): Indy car project, abandoned.
- Lotus 97T (1985–1986): F1 Turbo
- Lotus 98T (1986–1987): F1 Turbo
- Lotus 99T (1987): F1 Turbo, last Lotus F1 winner
- Lotus 100T (1988): F1 Turbo
- Lotus Elan (Type M100) (1989–1995): Front-drive convertible Elan.
- Lotus 101 (1989): F1
- Lotus 102 (1990–1991): F1
- Lotus 103 (1990): F1, not produced
- Lotus 104 (1990–1992): Lotus Carlton/Omega, a tuned version of the Opel/Vauxhall saloon.
- Lotus 105 (1990): Racing X180R, IMSA Supercars Drivers Champ (Doc Bundy)
- Lotus 106 (1991): X180R, roadgoing homologation special
- Lotus 107 (1992–1994): F1
- Lotus 108 (1992): a track-only bike ridden by Chris Boardman to win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, also known as the “LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle.”
- Lotus 109 (1994): F1, Last Lotus F1 car.
- Lotus 110: Road and TT bike. Often mistaken for the Lotus 108 but completely different bikes.
- Lotus 111 (1996-Present): Lotus Elise
- Lotus 112: Partial F1 design, reached as far as the monocoque buck
- Lotus 113: Number not allocated
- Lotus 114 (1996): Lotus Esprit GT1 race car
- Lotus 115 (1997–1998): Lotus Elise GT1
- Lotus 116: Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220, a collaboration with Opel
- Lotus 117: Lotus Elise S2
- Lotus 118: Lotus M250, two-seat mid-range sports car concept unveiled in Autumn of 1999, project canceled in 2001
- Lotus 119 (2002): Soapbox Derby car made of carbon and aluminum, disc brakes, no engine, for Goodwood Festival of Speed
- Lotus 120 (1998): Elise V6, code-named M120, never produced
- Lotus 121 (2000-Present): Lotus Exige
- Lotus 121 (2006): Europa S
- Lotus 122 (2007-2011): Lotus 2-Eleven, 0-door speedster
- Lotus 123 (2010-Present): Lotus Evora
- Lotus 124: Lotus Evora, race car
- Lotus T125 (2010): Lotus Exos
- Lotus T127 (2010): Team Lotus F1 car, made for 2010 season
- Lotus T128 (Formula One car) (2011): Team Lotus F1 car, made for 2011 season
- Lotus T128 (Le Mans Prototype) (2013): race car built for 24 Hours of LeMans
- Lotus 129 (2016-Present): Lotus 3-Eleven, 0-door speedster
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