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Lotus is a British automaker of racing and sports cars, headquartered in Hethel, Norfolk, England. Team Lotus is known to be one of the most successful teams in Formula 1. Due to the automaker’s significant contribution to international trade development, it was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2002. Currently, Lotus is acquired by Proton, which is a subsidiary of DRB-HICOM.
Lotus’s logo depicts four letters that are initials of the company’s founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, who established it in 1952, being inspired by successful construction and sale of the Austin Seven. Initially, Lotus Engineering was set up, followed by Lotus Cars in 1955 (the companies weren’t related).
The first autos made under the Lotus marque were the Mark 6 and the Mark 7, lightweight two-seat roadsters. It’s worth mentioning that the Mark 7, bought out by Caterham Cars in 1973, is the most popular model in Lotus’s history, which gained more awards than any other car by the automaker.
Previously Produced Cars
In order to improve its profit, Lotus launched Lotus Elite, its first road car, in 1958. Although the car was rather fast and manoeuvring, it was considered unreliable. Besides, it was available as a kit car that made the Elite’s production unprofitable. That’s why it was discontinued in 1963.
The Elan (1962-1973) had quite opposite destiny – the model was welcomed. The Elan was available as a cabriolet and coupe, and was modernized all the time. Apart from this, it was equipped with a mighty Lotus-made engine. Almost at the same time, the Lotus Europa, a lightweight two-seater with a Renault engine, was produced.
In the mid-seventies, the Elite and the Eclat, three-door four-seat hatchbacks with traditional fiberglass bodies, were turned out. There were optional automatic transmission and air conditioning that made the model available only for a certain circle of people. This, probably, was the reason why demand didn’t satisfy expectations. However, the failure was compensated by the 1976 Esprit, one of the most iconic models of the automaker.
In the 80s, Lotus was burdened with serious financial difficulties due to an economic crisis worldwide, exclusion from the US market, and lack in a new (or modernized) model range. To redress the situation, Chapman started to collaborate with Toyota. As a result, the Toyota Celica XX as well as the Lotus Excel were constructed.
Soon, Lotus managed to return to the American market by developing a separate sales company in the country. The new American company was Lotus Performance Cars Inc. (LPCI).
After Chapman’s death in 1982, David Wickins, an English entrepreneur, founder of British Car Auctions, became the head of the company. Thanks to his wise decisions, Lotus escaped bankruptcy.
The Company was a part of GM, then of A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg before it was finally sold to Proton.
Lotus doesn’t only manufacture sports and racing cars but also makes vehicle parts (in particular, chassis and engines) for other automakers such as Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Proton, and GM. For example, Lotus worked on construction of the four-cylinder Ecotec engine that can be found in Saab, Chevrolet, Saturn, and Opel autos.
Currently Produced Cars
1. The Lotus Elise, a two-seat roadster, has been produced since 1996. This model is the prototype of several racing cars, including the 340R (limited-edition cars with open top, without doors, built up with a Toyota 1.8 engine).
2. The Lotus Exige (since 2000) is a two-door two-seat sports car with a Toyota 3.5 engine; a modernized version of the Elise.
3. The Lotus 2-Eleven (since 2007) is a sports car for closed-circuit racing, constructed on the basis of the Exige S. Due to its lightweight (670 kg) and a powerful engine (250 hp), the car needs just 3.9 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h.
4. The Lotus Evora (since 2009) is a GT sports car with a 3.5-litre 280 hp Toyota engine and a six-speed transmission. It accelerates to 100 km/h in five seconds.
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