About Lotus

About Lotus

By remaining true to the ethos of founder Colin Chapman, Lotus stands alone as a brand dedicated to pure driver’s cars. Innovative engineering, cutting-edge technologies and advanced materials ensure that every Lotus proves the value of achieving performance through light weight. Reducing mass remains the most effective means of achieving a true connection between driver, car and road – a quality shared by every car to proudly wear the Lotus badge.

Colin Chapman famously said, ‘Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.

More relevant today than ever, it’s a core principle that has been tested and proven at the highest level of motorsport. Efficient, lightweight construction creates a virtuous cycle that applies equally to sports cars built for the road. It not only boosts straight-line acceleration and braking, it also allows for optimum suspension calibration. This in turn allows for sharper handling plus better body and roll control, but not at the expense of ride comfort and composure. Reducing weight from the most beneficial places also optimises weight distribution, which makes a huge contribution to the poise and balance of a sports car during high-speed cornering.

Every Lotus benefit from the company’s dedication to engineering, optimising and refining at every stage of the design and construction process. Each car is built by hand and tested around the famous test track at the factory in Hethel. Immensely proud of its heritage, Lotus combines the very best of British craftsmanship with bold, distinctive, inspirational design.

Ultimately, the only way to truly understand a Lotus is to drive it. Only then can you feel the communication, agility and precision that make it one of the world’s great driving experiences.

Company History

1948

Lotus Founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, was studying structural engineering at University College in London when he built his first competition car - an Austin Seven special trials car registered OX 9292.

1950

During his leave periods from the RAF, Chapman built his second trials car. The first Lotus to be useable on the road, it would later win the Wrotham Cup.

1951

The Mark 3 was the first of Chapman’s cars to be called a Lotus. The true origin of the name remains a secret known only to Colin and Hazel Chapman. The Mark 3 was also the first Lotus circuit racer, capable of 0-50 in 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 90mph.

1952

Colin Chapman formed the Lotus Engineering Company with a loan of £50.

1954

Team Lotus is established. The Mark 8 became an overnight success and allowed Lotus to enter international motor racing.

1956

The Lotus Eleven. The tradition of naming models with an ‘E’ begins.

1957

The Lotus Seven. The Lotus Elite. A development of the Seven is still being produced by Caterham today. With a glass fibre monocoque chassis and drag coefficient of just 0.29, the Elite was years ahead of its time. The Lotus Eleven won the 750cc Class of the Index of Performance at Le Mans.

1958

Group Lotus PLC established.

1959

Lotus moved to a purpose-built factory at Cheshunt.

1960

The Lotus 18. The first mid-engined Lotus and first to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Stirling Moss. 29th May. Monaco.

1961

The Lotus 21. The first Team Lotus car to win a World Championship Grand Prix. Innes Ireland. 8th October. Watkins Glen, USA.

1962

The Lotus Type 25. The Lotus Elan (Type 26). The radical Type 25 was the first aluminium monocoque chassis in Formula 1. Steered by Jim Clark to four Grand Prix wins. The Elan remained in production until 1973 and is still revered as an all-time-great pure driver’s car.

1963

Jim Clark wins the Formula One Drivers’ World Championship in the Lotus Type 25. Team Lotus wins their first Formula One Constructors’ World Championship. The Lotus Cortina (Type 28) wins the British Saloon Car Championship. The Lotus Type 29 was Chapman’s first Indycar. Driven by Jim Clark, it finished 2nd in the Indy 500.

1965

Jim Clark takes on the world. He delivers another F1 World Championship double in the Lotus Type 33. He wins the Indy 500 in the Lotus Type 38.

1966

Lotus relocates to a new factory built on a former US Air Force base in Hethel, Norfolk. The Type 43 was the first F1 car to use the engine as a structural member. The Elan S3 drophead is launched followed by the mid-engined Lotus Europa (Type 46).

1967

The Lotus Type 49. The first F1 car to be powered by the Cosworth-Ford DFV V8. The launch of the Lotus Elan +2 (Type 50).

1968

Tragic loss of Jim Clark in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim. Graham Hill wins the Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships in the Lotus 49. Aerofoil wings used for the first time in Formula One.

1970

Lotus launch the 126bhp ‘Big Valve’ Elan Sprint. The Lotus Type 72 introduces mid-mounted radiators and multi-element wings among other innovations to Formula 1. Another F1 Constructors’ World Championship for Team Lotus. Jochen Rindt wins the F1 Drivers’ World Championship despite tragically losing his life at Monza with 4 rounds still to go.

1972

Emerson Fittipaldi wins the F1 Drivers’ World Championship in the iconic black and gold Lotus Type 72. Team Lotus wins the F1 Constructors’ World Championship. The Lotus Esprit Ital Design concept is shown for the first time.

1973

Team Lotus wins the F1 Constructors’ World Championship for the 6th time. Fittipaldi comes 2nd in the Driver’s Championship with Ronnie Peterson coming 3rd.

1974

The Lotus Type 75 Elite. The bold, avant-garde Oliver Winterbottom designed 2+2.

1975

The Type 79 Esprit is revealed to the world at the Paris motor show. Giorgetto Guigiaro’s dramatic lines and timeless proportions steal the show.

1977

A Monaco White Lotus Esprit with tartan cloth interior stars in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Famous for plunging into the Sardinian sea and turning into a submarine, 007’s latest company car was driven by Lotus test driver Roger Becker for the high-speed stunts and Roger Moore for the close-ups.

1978

Team Lotus dominates Formula 1 with the Lotus Type 79 ‘ground effect’ car. 12 pole positions. 8 wins. F1 Constructors’ World Championship for Team Lotus. F1 Drivers’ World Championship for Mario Andretti. The Type 79 was a development of the Type 78 which pioneered the use of underbody aerodynamics, using ‘skirts’ to generate levels of downforce not previously seen in Formula 1.

1980

The Type 82 Turbo Esprit is launched in tremendous style at the Royal Albert Hall in London. 210bhp. 150mph and 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds took the Esprit into supercar territory. The first cars were very high specification and finished with the Team Essex Lotus Racing livery.

1981

Two Turbo Esprits starred in the latest Bond film, ‘For Your Eyes Only’. The first, a Monaco White car, was famous for its explosive burglar alarm. The second, painted Copper Fire bronze was fitted with ski racks and used for filming scenes in the ski resort of Cortina in Italy. The revolutionary Lotus Type 88 was the first F1 car to be designed with a carbon fibre monocoque and twin chassis, but it was banned by the sport’s governing body.

1982

The 2+2 Lotus Type 89 Excel was launched in October. Elio de Angelis wins the Austrian Grand Prix in the Lotus Type 91. This turned out to be the last time Colin Chapman would celebrate a Team Lotus Grand Prix victory. Lotus’ inspirational founder died suddenly of a heart attack on the 16th of December. He was just 54 years of age.

1983

Toyota acquires a 16.5% stake in Lotus and begins a period of closer collaboration between the two companies.

1984

30,000 cars produced at the Norfolk factory since 1966. The Giugiaro designed Lotus Etna concept was revealed at the Birmingham Motor Show.

1985

Ayrton Senna joins Team Lotus. On 21st April he wins the Portuguese Grand Prix in the pouring rain at Estoril. This was the first of Senna’s 41 Grand Prix wins. The turbocharged Lotus Type 97T, which won again at Spa on 15th September, was the first F1 car to feature aerodynamic barge boards.

1986

Senna wins the Spanish F1 Grand Prix in April and Detroit F1 Grand Prix in June in the ferocious Lotus Type 98T. F1’s first turbo era reached its peak this year and Renault introduced a pneumatic valvetrain for the 98T which helped produce in excess of 1200bhp in qualifying. General Motors buys Group Lotus.

1987

Team Lotus switches to Honda power and Camel sponsorship for the Lotus Type 99T. The first Lotus to successfully use Active Suspension to win two more F1 victories in Monaco and Detroit. Senna leaves Team Lotus for McLaren at the end of the season. The Peter Stevens restyle of the Lotus Esprit makes its debut at the London Motorfair.

1988

Reigning Formula One World Champion Nelson Piquet joins Team Lotus. As a result, his Lotus Type 100T wears the number 1 for the season.

1989

Lotus launch the chargecooled, 264bhp, Lotus Esprit Turbo SE. It would later star in Hollywood blockbusters Pretty Woman and Basic Instinct. The new, front-wheel drive Lotus Elan (Type 100) roadster is launched at the London Motorfair.

1990

The Lotus Carlton. Also known as the Lotus Omega across Europe, it remains one of the fastest saloon cars ever made. 377bhp, 419lb ft of torque and tested at 174mph.

1992

Chris Boardman wins the 4000m Pursuit Gold Medal with a world record time at the Barcelona Olympics on a LotusSport Type 108 Pursuit Bicycle. Doc Bundy wins the SCCA World Challenge Driver’s title driving the Esprit X180R.

1993

Bugatti buys Group Lotus from General Motors. Romano Artioli becomes acting CEO. Lotus Esprit S4 launched, the first production Esprit with power assisted steering. Based on the Championship winning Esprit X180R, the Esprit Sport 300 enters production in May. Two of them enter Le Mans a month later.

1994

The Elan S2 and faster Esprit S4s are launched. An Esprit Sport 300, driven by Thorkild Thyrring wins the British National GT series.

1995

The Lotus Type 111 is unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Named Elise after Chairman Romano Artioli’s granddaughter, it represented the return of Lotus to its founding principles. Simple, pure, innovative and ultra-light, it was an instant hit and remains in production today. Total Lotus production reaches 50,000 in March.

1996

Proton announces an 80% majority stake in Group Lotus. The Esprit V8 is launched with an all-new, Lotus designed, 3.5 litre, twin-turbo, V8 producing 350bhp and 400Nm of torque. Esprit GT1 race car unveiled.

1997

Elise production is ramped-up to cope with demand. The 1,000th Elise rolls off the production line in May. A revised interior for the Esprit V8 and lighter Esprit V8 GT launched.

1998

50th Anniversary celebrated with a party at Hethel. Elise-based 340R concept shown at the Birmingham Motor Show in October. Limited production Esprit Sport 350 and Elise Sport 135 launched.

1999

Lotus launch the Elise 111S and reveal the Opel Speedster concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

2000

The Lotus Exige is launched at Brands Hatch. Elise Sport 160 also launched before the reveal of the heavily revised second-generation Elise.

2002

Lotus Cars is awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise in recognition for their contribution to International Trade. The V8 Esprit given a facelift to celebrate 30 years since the concept was unveiled in 1972.

2003

After 27 years in production, the last Esprit rolls off the production line. Lotus becomes the shirt sponsor for Norwich City.

2004

The series two Exige is launched at the Geneva Motor Show. The Elise 111R is also launched with the same 8500rpm, 189bhp Toyota 2ZZGE engine. It’s awarded Best Sports Car 2004 by BBC Top Gear, bringing the total number of awards to 50 since 1995. The Federal Elise goes on sale in the United States. Total Elise production reaches 20,000 making it the most popular Lotus ever.

2005

Over 2,300 Elises delivered to the US market. Lotus Engineering reveals its VVA (Versatile Vehicle Architecture) concept.

2006

The Lotus Sport Exige GT3, driven by George Mackintosh and Sam Blogg, wins the British GT Manufacturers Championship. The Elise-based Europa S tourer and Type 1 Lotus watch go on sale. Mike Kimberley returns as acting CEO from May 2006.

2008

The Lotus Type 122 Evora, the world’s only mid-engined 2+2, is launched to universal acclaim. The Elise Type 25 limited edition is launched to celebrate Jim Clark’s racing achievements. 60th Anniversary celebrated at Hethel. Lotus Sport 2-Eleven GT4 race car produced.

2009

CEO Mike Kimberley retires in July. Dany Bahar takes over from October. Claudio Berro is appointed Director of Motorsport and Donato Coco as Director of Design. The Evora wins Top Gear Magazine’s ‘Sportscar of the Year’, Car Magazine’s ‘Performance Car of the Year’, Evo Magazine’s ‘Car of the Year’ and Autocar’s ‘Best Driver’s Car’. Lotus Evora Type 124 endurance racer developed.

2010

The Lotus name returns to Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport. Lotus announce the new 2011MY Lotus Elise in July.

2011

Elise Club Racer is announced. The Lotus test track re-opens on 21st June after extensive modernisation. The opening ceremony is attended by Nigel Mansell, Jean Alesi, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna. The first V6 powered Exige is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

2012

DRB Hicom buy a majority stake in Proton. Lotus headline the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Over 45 historic and modern Lotus race cars set times on the famous hill climb course, blasting past a huge sculpture commissioned to celebrate Lotus’ past and present racing achievements. Entitled ‘Past, Present and Future’ a Lotus 49, Lotus 79, Lotus 99T and Lotus E20 were suspended high above the lawn outside Goodwood house. The supercharged Lotus Exige V6S wins Evo Magazine’s ‘Car of the Year’ award, sharing joint honours with the Pagani Zonda.

2014

Jean-Marc Gales appointed as the new CEO. The aerodynamically advanced Elise S Cup was launched along with an automatic version of the Exige V6S.

2015

Lotus Evora 400 launched at the Geneva Motor Show. The extreme, 410hp 3-Eleven was launched at Goodwood.

2016

The promise of lighter, faster models if fulfilled with the launch of the Lotus Evora Sport 410 and Elise Cup 250 at the Geneva Motor Show. The Exige Sport 380 is unveiled in November.

2017

The Exige Cup 380 is revealed in April. The Evora GT430 announced in September. Production of both cars is limited to 60 units worldwide. The most powerful Exige to date, the Exige Cup 430, is unveiled on 9th November. Geely Holding Group buys a 51% stake in Group Lotus.

2018

Geely announces Mr Feng Qingfeng’s appointment as CEO of Group Lotus plc in June. Lotus celebrates its 70th Anniversary at Hethel in September. Phil Popham is appointed Senior Vice President - Commercial Operations for Group Lotus and CEO - Lotus Sports Cars on 1st October. Lotus Evora GT410 Sport and Exige Sport 410 launched.

2019

In July Lotus unveils the Evija – the first all-electric British hypercar. With a target power output of 2,000 PS, it is the world’s most powerful series production road car. The mid-mounted battery pack echoes the celebrated Lotus mid-engined sports car layout. Production will begin in 2020 and is limited to just 130 cars – in tribute to its Lotus ‘Type’ number, 130.


Lotus announces the Evora GT, the most powerful road-going Lotus for North American markets, to critical acclaim from media.