In the competitive industry that is auto manufacturing and motorsports, very few companies with limited funding and pedigree survive for long. However, the rare exceptions to this rule do several things right. The once small English carmaker Lotus is a textbook definition of such a breakthrough.
Throughout Lotus’ 67-year lifespan, it’s encountered many highs and many lows. Sadly, the recent status of the brand isn’t quite where it was years ago. Nonetheless, the company has done a lot over the decades. Some of which have been forgotten by the general public, while others are new projects yet to be released.
10 007 & Lotus
For the slightly younger audience, your notion of 007, more generally known as James Bond, most likely revolves around Daniel Craig’s portrayal. Nowadays, Bond is associated with Aston Martins, but in the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me, Lotus took the center stage.
The particular Lotus used by the famous spy was the 1976 Esprit S1 in a stunning bright white. The movie really boosted Lotus’ brand-awareness and subsequently made the Esprit one of their most successful models. Even though the 007 series has brand agreements with Aston Martin, it would be interesting to see Lotus make a return to the ‘big screen.’
9 Lotus Has A New Hypercar
As Lotus has begun to fall always from the mind of the general public in recent years, you may not be aware that Lotus is actually releasing a new hypercar: The Evija.
The Evija sets out to compete directly with other automotive giants like the Porsche 918, Ferrari SF90 Stradale, and McLaren P1. While these vehicles offer hybrid engines, the Lotus Evija is supposedly all-electric. It’s theorized to have a top speed well over 200 M.P.H. and a range of 250+ miles. If Lotus were successful in doing so, it would significantly help their image.
8 Lotus Was A Successful F1 Team
For newer fans of Formula One racing, you may have never known that Lotus once had an F1 team. Due to financial issues and a lack of victories, Lotus decided to sell their team to Renault in 2015.
Even though their hybrid-era run wasn’t as successful as intended, Lotus still has many wins and a lot of history in the sport. Especially in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when Lotus dominated the field with drivers like Jim Clark and Emerson Fittipaldi. This team was technically named “Team Lotus” rather than Lotus F1, which was the name for the post-2012 team.
7 Their Cars Are Very Lightweight
Although Lotus cars have garnered mixed reviews in regards to reliability, there is still one constant with their vehicles: Their super lightweight bodies. Models like the Esprit and Evora almost resemble small go-karts or GT4 race cars when properly photographed.
A lightweight car is a big part of Lotus’ philosophy as a brand. As a matter of fact, their “Lotus Difference” home page states that they are “recognized worldwide as THE manufacturer of lightweight sports cars.” All of this in pursuit of creating a car that can be very fast with less power and boast high power-to-weight ratios.
6 The Factory Offers Tours
Like many high-end automotive producers, Lotus has a large factory surrounded by their classic models, seemingly endless production lines, and freshly made sports cars. What others don’t always offer, however, is the chance to see it all with your own eyes.
Typically, to view a factory and watch a car get built, you need to purchase one for the privilege. Not Lotus, though. Anyone with a desire to see the in’s and out’s of the facility can do so by purchasing a ticket.
5 Lotus Assisted Several Different Manufacturers
Even though Lotus was a relatively small company for quite some time, it has assisted in the making of several different cars not branded under their name. The primary reason behind this is that Lotus has had multiple owners and partners, including GM, Delorean, and Aston Martin.
Interestingly enough, Lotus has had a hand in a lot of legendary vehicles, old and new. Some examples being the Delorean DMC-12, Corvette ZR-1, V12 Vanquish, and a Hyundai Genesis. With resounding engineering feats, it’s no wonder why so many companies reached out for their help.
4 Currently Owned By Geely
Throughout Lotus’ 67 years in operation, it has been sold and bought by a handful of different companies/organizations. As so, the vehicle design, engineering teams, and quality vary each time the individuals running the place change.
Currently, a company named “Geely” owns Lotus. A Chinese based carmaker with a much larger market share and reach than the standard British Lotus. With Geely's purchase of the brand, Lotus has experienced a mix of ups and downs. With assurances, their new hypercar will propel them back into relevance.
3 Built At An Old R.A.F. Base
Although the China-based Geely bought the company, most of their vehicles are still built at the same factory in Norfolk, England. This isn’t just any old factory though, as it was once an airbase used by the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.).
This is one of their coolest aspects of the factory, however, this may not last for long. In January of this year, Geely announced plans to most-likely move production to China. If this does come to pass, then Lotus will lose an important piece of history for both themselves and their fans.
2 Lotus Has Been Struggling Recently
As mentioned previously, Lotus has had its fair share of highs and lows. In the past, Lotus was winning races, selling countless models, and at the forefront of every car enthusiast’s mind. Nowadays, the same cannot be said.
Some speculate the cause to be corporate greed or inability (perhaps both) and others think that they’ve simply lost their spark. Whatever the reason may be, receiving cash subsidies to help fight brands like Porsche isn’t the only thing they will need to bridge the proverbial gap.
1 Originally Kit Cars
During Lotus’ start, their prime focus (similar to McLaren) was the production of race cars. The brand mostly sold their cars as an almost ‘do-it-yourself’ kit, allowing for wannabe racers to build their own cars and save money.
In the early '70s, Lotus branched away from its kit car roots, especially with the Elan, Elite, and Eclat vehicles. Even though they don’t do this anymore, it’s still a significant part of their history.