Lotus owes its existence to the late Colin Chapman, one of the greatest innovators of motorcar design. Chapman started out designing and building specials based on the ubiquitous Austin Seven, however his motoring prowess would soon see him emerge to control a Grand-Prix racing team, among many other accomplishments. The first Lotus was manufactured in the English winter of 1947-1948, while Chapman was still studying for his engineering degree at London University.
He continued to construct other specials for competition work, all built to comply with the regulations of the 750 Motor Club. The first production Lotus was the Mark 6, the first of many similarly styled cars featuring a multi-tube space frame chassis enclosing both the engine and transmission, and incorporating soft independent front suspension – all adding up to an extremely light weight. And it was in regards to weight that Chapman became a devotee, adopting the philosophy that “no item should be in any way superfluous, or over-strong, for this simply added unnecessary weight to the machine”. This philosophy is still very much at the core of production principles applied to to the modern day Lotus.
1958 - 1959
It was Lotus's most powerful sports car of the late 1950s, with the still-stretching Coventry Climax twin-cam four of either 1.5 or 2.0 litres as a power-plant, and a compact Chapman/Costin chassis controlling the trajectory. While probably not more than 30 Fifteens were built in all (Series One and Two in 1958, and about six of the Series Three in 1959), they were very successful machines in short-distance UK racing. More>>
1962 - 1966
Formula One racing's "Age of the Monocoque" can be said to have dawned on May 20, 1962, in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. On that day Jim Clark started his brand-new Lotus 25 from third-fastest place on the grid, led the entire field going away for 12 laps, and then slowed as he struck clutch trouble. More>>
1970 - 1975
The Lotus think tank developed a simple wedge-shaped body form which combined the maximum negative lift force with a low pitching moment thereby reducing tail-end squat and front-end dive to a minimum and providing a stable platform. The smooth response and acceleration of of the turbine engine helped in this respect, but the behavior of the 56 spoiled Lotus's drivers when they returned to Formula One. More>>
1974 - 1982
Launched in 1974, the Elite Type 75 was Lotus' very first saloon car, which featured a fibreglass hatchback bodyshell designed by Oliver Winterbottom, mounted on a steel chassis that had evolved from the Elan and Europa. More>>
1976 - 1980
These first cars eventually became known as S1 (or Series 1) Esprits. With a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body, the Esprit was powered by the Lotus 907 4 cylinder engine, as previously used in the Jensen Healey. More>>
1980 - 1987
Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 (Series 3) Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds. More>>
1986 - 1988
The Esprit was seen as a Ferrari or Lamborrghini rival, which it was in dynamic and visual terms, but it was way behind these in mechanical refinement and practicality, even by mid-engined standards. At either end of the scale there were more useable mid-engined cars: a Ferrari Testarossa or a Toyota MR2 both enjoyed better visibility, though neither was as impressive to look at as the Esprit. More>>