Timeline - The 50's 1954 Team Lotus is set up. The team comes into being. With the Mark 8, with which they could enter international motor racing, they become an overnight success. On the racing scene, Chapman's tendency to seek out loopholes in the regulations and to innovate begins, and this will later lead him to become known as both a maverick and a genius.
1955 Early production The Mark 6 was much in demand, but after the manufacture of over 100 cars, orders for the pure sports racing cars took priority. Chapman gave up his job to become fully employed with the production of Lotus cars at the Hornsey factory. The Mark 8 became even more popular and Lotus was pressed for supply in both the larger and smaller engine capacities. The company went on to develop the very agile Mark 9 and the more powerful Mark 10, and was accepted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders as a member, allowing them to display their cars at the Earls Court Motor Show for the first time. 1956 The Lotus Eleven
After a busy 1955, Chapman decided to focus development for the ensuing year on one basic model. Developed as a descendant of the Mark 9, the Lotus Eleven (Chapman's new chosen name and the start of the Lotus "E" name tradition) comes in three basic models to suit varying customer requirements. From hereon the models are referred as types rather than marks. 1957 Lotus Seven & Le Mans The Lotus Seven was launched as a "no-frills" sports car. The car was available as a fully built car or as a kit, and delivered exceptional performance at a relatively low cost. Production of the Seven continued at Lotus until 1973, when the rights were passed to Caterham, who still produce a form of the car today. At the Earls Court Motor Show the Type 14 Elite (the number 13 was not used as it is considered unlucky) was shown for the first time to great acclaim. This fixed head coupe is still considered by many to be one of the best proportioned cars ever built. This was the FIRST Lotus to carry a glass fibre composite body that also acted as the chassis. Also in 1957 the Eleven proved highly successful on the race track, and achieved a historic win in the 750cc Class of the Index of Performance at Le Mans. 1958 Group Lotus PLC This is the year Chapman established Group Lotus. Despite having been designed for Formula 2, the performance of the Lotus 12 meant that it became the FIRST Lotus to enter Formula 1 managing a highly credible fourth place at Spa. The Type 15 (based on the Eleven), and Type 16 Formula 1 and 2 racing cars were developed. As one of the FIRST engineering consultancy roles, Chapman also had a hand in developing the Vanwall Grand Prix car for Tony Vandervell; the car going on to win the 1958 Constructors Championship. 1959 The move to Cheshunt The factory moves from the original showroom next door to the Railway Inn on Tottenham Lane, Hornsey on the outskirts of London, to a new purpose-built facility at Cheshunt. Following the great success of the Lotus Eleven, a new small capacity sports racer labelled the Type 17, was developed. This extremely lightweight car weighed just 341 kg, but this innovation proved not to be successful on track and Chapman was forced to go back to the drawing board. Timeline - The 60's 1960 The mid-engine principle and Lotus' first GP win. Focused on winning, Chapman adopted and improved upon the mid-engined layout of the successful Cooper race cars. A much simpler car than the Type 16, The Type 18 was so competitive in both Formula 1 and 2 that it was emulated by the majority of cars in those formulae. Racing with the Type 18 in Monte Carlo, Stirling Moss drove to victory at the first of many championship Grand Prix wins as driver for the Rob Walker team. Chapman said he regarded the Type 18 as the first true Formula 1 car he had designed and built, his previous front-engined efforts being merely dabbling. The Type 19 large capacity sports racer was developed from the basis of the Type 18 and went on to dominate its class in the USA. 1961 The Lotus 20 & 21 Keen to maintain Lotus' pre-eminence in Junior racing, Chapman developed the Type 20. Using the majority of parts from the Type 18 packed into a smaller body, the Type 20 mades an immediate impression on the track. 1st Demonstrating the typical"can do" attitude of Team Lotus, in only 6 weeks the Type 21 was designed and built to compete in the 1961 Formula One season. The Type 21 was the FIRST F1 car to use a reclining driving position. It was also the FIRST Team Lotus car to win a world Championship Grand Prix, with Innes Ireland taking first place at Watkins Glen, USA. 1962 One road car and four racers Lotus introduced the Type 24 with a conventional chassis at the start of the '62 Formula One season, but it was soon eclipsed by the radical Type 25. 1st Abandoning all the existing conventions, the 25 was the first F1 car to use a revolutionary fully stressed "monocoque" chassis design, reinforcing Chapman's reputation as a brilliant engineer. Winning four Formula 1 races in its first year, at the hands of the talented Jim Clark, just missing out on the Championship in the final race. The Type 26 Lotus Elan was introduced and rapidly became a class leader by which other sportscars were measured. The car continued in production for 11 years due to it's excellent design and subsequent popularity. 1963 The year of the Cortina and F1 success Chapman developed his first Indianapolis car, the Type 29. With a power to weight ratio of over 800bhp per ton Lotus proclaimed it to be one of the most, if not the most potent piece of racing machinery ever built. After leading the Indy 500 for 28 laps, Jim Clark finished in second place. Lotus assisted Ford in winning the British Saloon Car Championship by developing and building the Type 28 Lotus Cortina. Win: With Jim Clark at the wheel of the Type 25, Lotus secured its FIRST Formula One Constructors' Championship, and the Drivers title; this was also the first Drivers' World Championship for Clark, winning seven out of ten races. Both titles were won with an astonishing maximum points. 1964 The Type 33 Lotus developed the Type 30, their first car designed for Group 7 racing. The Type 31, 32, and 33 were developed. These new cars were built for Formula 3, 2 and Tasman, and 1 respectively. The Type 33 was an evolution of the monocoque structure Type 25. 1965 More F1 Success and Indy 500 Win: Again the brilliant Jim Clark brought home another double for Team Lotus, winning both constructors' and drivers F1 championships, this time at the wheel of the Type 33. Clark also won the famous Indy 500 race in the USA in the new Type 38 having lead virtually from the start, averaging 150.686mph - a new record. On the road, the Type 36 Lotus Elan fixed head coupe made its debut, the first "luxury" Lotus Coupe. After the idea of racing the Type 7 with independent rear suspension became popular, Lotus developed the semi-official Type Three-7. This project was conceived as the new generation Clubman's racer for the 1965 season. 1966 Move to Hethel, Norfolk. It was in this year that Lotus moved to a purpose-built factory based in Hethel, Norfolk. Built on a former US Air Force base, covering 55 acres, the old runways were converted into a 2.5 mile test track which, over the years, saw the inaugural drives of some of the world's finest road and race cars at the hands of some of the world's most famous racing drivers. The enhanced Type 45 Elan S3 drophead made its debut, followed by the mid-engined Europa (Type 46) road car, whose handling received considerable praise in the press. Soon after the Europa went into production, work began on the Type 47, a Cosworth-Ford powered racing version. Jim Clark went on to be placed 2nd in the Indy 500 despite suffering from handling problems with the Type 47. 1st The Type 43 made its debut at Reims. It was the first F1 car to use the engine as a structural member. However, the car suffered from problems with the BRM H16 engine, with only one F1 win at Watkins Glen in the USA. 1967 The legendary Cosworth-Ford DFV V8 The Type 49 Formula 1 racer became the FIRST car to be powered by the legendary Cosworth-Ford DFV V8 engine, a motor which went on to dominate the Formula 1 scene for over a decade. Jim Clark won the Dutch Grand Prix in the 49, and took pole position In the following 11 Grand Prix races. The more spacious Type 50 Elan +2 went into production, with a longer chassis and different bodywork, enabling two children to be carried in the rear seats. 1968 The loss of Jim Clark Timeline - The 70's 1970 The Elan Sprint and more F1 wins In the January the famous Elan Sprint was introduced with the new 126bhp "Big Valve" engine. Double 1st Team Lotus unveils the innovative Type 72 Formula One Car that went on to achieve twenty Grand Prix wins. With inboard brakes, torsion bar springs and the FIRST use of mid-mounted, side radiators it was possible to create a car with a flat aerodynamic nose. It was also the FIRST car to use a multi element rear wing. Win: Austrian driver Jochen Rindt passed Jack Brabham on the last lap to win the 1970 British GP at Brands Hatch in the new Type 72. Victory came again in both the Constructors' and Drivers' championships. Tragedy: Rindt is tragically killed at Monza before the season's end. 1971 A new engine Europa went on to realise it's full potential with a change of engine and improvements to the handling, cabin space and styling. It became one of the world's quickest production sports cars. The Type 907 road engine was developed by Lotus and sold to Jensen for use in the Jensen-Healey. 1972 The Lotus Type 72 Win: Another successful year for Team Lotus. In the Type 72, now sporting the famous John Player Special livery, Emerson Fittipaldi won both Constructors' and Drivers' Championship. The success of Team Lotus was reflected in the black and gold (JPS) colour scheme available for the newly announced Europa Special.?The Lotus Esprit concept, designed by Ital Design, is shown for the first time. 1973 The "Texaco Star" Lotus causes confusion by naming its next race car the Type 74, a type number already given to the Europa. However, due to the sponsorship scheme on the car, the car becomes more commonly known as the "Texaco Star". Win: Lotus won the Constructors Championship for the sixth time, and Emerson Fittipaldi comes second in the Drivers' Championship with Ronnie Peterson coming third. 1974 The Lotus 2+2 Elite Lotus' first 4 seater car was launched, the attractively shaped Type 75 Elite. Though more luxurious than any previous Lotus, the Elite still uses the company's trademark backbone chassis and is very much a sports car. Timeline - The 80's 1980 Party Time The awesome Esprit Turbo was launched in tremendous style at London's Royal Albert Hall. The party also celebrated Team Lotus' new sponsor, Essex Petroleum; the first 100 Esprit Turbos were to be built in Team Essex Lotus racing livery. Looking even more outrageous than the normally aspirated version, the (Type 82) Esprit Turbo boasted a new galvanised chassis, new suspension, and a 210bhp 16-valve turbocharged 2.2-litre engine. Its performance took it straight into the supercar league - 150mph+ and 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds. Following the Esprit Turbo™s introduction, the other models were updated with the latest 2.2-litre Lotus engine and a galvanised chassis, with the Elite and Eclat also benefiting from new interiors, instrumentation and switchgear. The Lotus line-up is now: Elite S2, Eclat S2, Esprit S2.2 (an interim model developed from the S2), and the Turbo. On the racing front, the skirts on 'ground effect' F1 cars pioneered by Team Lotus (introduced on the Type 78) were banned by the sport's governing body; Chapman and the Team Lotus engineers once more had to apply some lateral thinking. Setting up a race car's suspension for the best aerodynamic effect meant that the driver wasn't sufficiently protected from road shocks, but a softer suspension compromised the aerodynamics. To resolve this, the Lotus Type 86 began development, with two separate chassis and two separate suspension systems. The car was a prototype and technology demonstrator and was tested extensively during the 1980 season. During this season Lotus competed in the Type 81 Formula One race car. 1981 For Your Eyes Only By incorporating the chassis and suspension of the Turbo into the non-turbo Esprit S3, Lotus was able to save costs on both models and passed this saving on to the customer. In July the Esprit Turbo shot to stardom, featuring strongly in the new Bond movie 'For Your Eyes Only,' which received another Royal Premier. 1st The Lotus Type 88 Twin Chassis Formula One car was developed for the season, the FIRST car designed with a carbon fibre monocoque, and two chassis - one in which the driver sat which was softly sprung, and the other (where the skirts etc.,) sat was stiffly sprung. This was far less punishing on the driver, but was eventually outlawed from competition by the governing body. The Type 87 replaced it, and Nigel Mansell, who had recently joined Team Lotus, raced it alongside Elio de Angelis. 1982 Tragedy strikes The 2+2 (Type 89) Excel was launched in October, replacing the Eclat. It was neatly styled, powered by a 160bhp 2.2-litre Lotus twin-cam engine, and handled superbly. With Elio de Angelis at the wheel, the Lotus Type 91 won its first Grand Prix Formula One race at the Austrian Grand Prix; this was to be the last win for Lotus in the Cosworth DFV engine. Tragedy: The year ends in tragedy. On Thursday December 16, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, founder and chairman, died suddenly from a heart attack at only 54 years of age. 1983 The show must go on Chapman was greatly missed, but the spirit he imparted to his team and his colleagues lived on. In May the Lotus Active Suspension System was announced. It used a pioneering system of computers to control the hydraulic suspension, to maintain the car's balance throughout cornering, accelerating, braking, or traversing a bumpy surface. An early experimental version of the Active Suspension system was tested on the Type 92 Formula One car, driven by Mansell. At the request of Lotus, Toyota acquired a 16.5% stake in Lotus. The two companies had been in a mutual collaboration relationship with respect to technology since 1980. Over the following few years, Toyota would increase its shareholding in Lotus to 21.5%. An updated Excel and Esprit Turbo made their debut at the London Motorfair later in the year. 1984 Strength to strength In a bold step to demonstrate its commitment to becoming a major automotive engineering consultancy, Lotus invested £500,000 and opened two of the most sophisticated computer-controlled engine test cells in Europe. The Hethel factory reached another milestone - 30,000 cars had been produced at the Norfolk factory since 1966.
The V8-powered Etna concept car, designed by Giugiaro, was shown at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham. The engine was Lotus' own design, a 4.0-litre V8 developing 320bhp. Projected performance for the Etna was 0-60mph in 4.3secs, with a top speed of 180mph. 1985 Talent 1st As proof that Team Lotus had become a breeding ground for young talent, Ayrton Senna replaced the departing Nigel Mansell. In this first season, driving the Type 97T, the FIRST car to have aerodynamic barge boards, Senna won in Portugal (despite fearsomely wet conditions), and again at Spa. Chrysler Corporation USA contracted with Lotus Engineering to develop a family of high performance 16-valve engines for its future range of passenger cars. There was a massive leap in work-in-hand, from £3 million in June 1984 to £31 million in June 1985, thanks mainly to growth of contract work for clients worldwide. Floor space at the Hethel site was increased by 45 per cent to cope with the extra work and staff numbers rose to more than 600. To round off the year nicely the Excel SE is announced at the London Motor Show. Among a package of all-round refinements is a new 180bhp high compression version of the Lotus 2.2-litre 16-valve engine. 1986 Change of ownership Lotus marked 20 years at the Hethel site. Timeline - The 90's 1990
The Lotus Carlton The legendary Lotus Carlton (Lotus Omega outside the
UK) was launched; essentially a Carlton/Omega GSi completely stripped
and rebuilt by Lotus, to become one of the quickest saloon cars in the
world. Its specification was simply awesome. Power was from a
3.6-litre straight-six with 24 valves, two turbochargers, producing
377bhp and 419lb ft of torque. In magazine tests the Lotus Carlton
pulled around 174mph; and would also run to 60mph in 5.2secs and 100mph
in just 11.5secs. In the USA, a works-supported team of three Esprit
Turbo SEs entered the 'Showroom Stock' race series. In just nine races
the team achieved four victories, six pole positions, six fastest laps,
and second place in the Manufacturers' Championship. Timeline - The 00's 2000 Exige is here Lotus Engineering continued to rapidly expand, acquiring testing and development facilities in the USA, and Lotus Engineering Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan was established. This represented a crucial in-road to the important American market for the automotive consultancy business. On the eve of the inaugural round of the Autobytel Lotus Championship race series at Brands Hatch, Lotus thrilled the crowds by unveiling the new Exige. Styled on the Sport Elise racer, the Exige was an exhilarating yet well mannered road car, with the soul of a track car. In response to enthusiasts demand for even more performance Lotus responded with the introduction of the Sport 160. An awesome performer that makes a big impression with the track day crowd. However, by far the most significant event of the year was the launch of the new generation Elise with improved performance, styling, handling and quality. The car was immediately labeled by the press "The best just got better", and enforced Lotus' position at the forefront of vehicle design technology. The new bespoke Research and Development Centre at Hethel opened in July, and Lotus Design was the first department to move in. The first 340R's are delivered to customers. Lotus, famous for taking things to extremes, provided support to Coventry University design student, Ted Mannerfelt. Ted's Extreme concept design study complemented the Lotus design ethos - it was light, quick, innovative, agile, and was influenced by the worlds of aerospace, motorbikes and powerboats. The Extreme had two powerplants - a 100bhp 700cc motorbike engine running on natural gas, and a 20bhp electric motor - producing 0-60mph in 5.0secs, and yet returned 110mpg. 2001 Engineering operations in Malaysia? The first year of the new millennium saw Lotus building more cars than ever before in its 53 year history and soon after being voted 'Britain's Best Driver's Car' by Autocar Magazine. Lotus announced its new Engineering Operations Centre in Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The favourable and fast moving ASEAN economy had prompted Lotus to develop a greater presence in this region and in particular in Malaysia. As a 'corporate neighbour' to some of the worlds leading car manufacturers, Lotus was able to offer a number of benefits to its customers including improved communications with its clients and the ability to stay in tune with the ASEAN market. 2002 Queens award for enterprise The Esprit, unveiled in 1972 as a concept at the Turin Motorshow, entered production in the mid 1970's, and was accepted as being one of the world's finest supercars. To celebrate 30 years of this performance car, Lotus gave the Esprit an up-to-date facelift.?Lotus unveiled an addition to the Elise range with the 156hp Elise 111S PROTON acquired the remaining shares from ACBN Holdings and so become 100% shareholders in Lotus Group International Ltd. Lotus Cars were awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise, for contribution to International Trade, one of just 85 companies receiving recognition in that category in 2002. 2003 The end of an era Late 2003 also saw the last Lotus Esprit roll off the production line marking the end of over 27 years of production. In addition to announcing that the Elise will be on sale in US for 2004, it is also announced that it will also go on sale in Mexico and Russia. Lotus also announced it would be introducing a new Lotus Exige in 2004. Lotus became the short sponsor for Norwich City Football team, "the Canaries", reinforcing links with the local community and a popular sport. 2004 20,000th Elise At the 2004 Geneva Show, Lotus presented the new Lotus Exige on the world stage. At the same event Lotus also launched a track version, the Lotus Exige Series 2. At the end of January, Lotus launched the new 189hp Lotus Elise 111R. The new Lotus Elise 111R is awarded Best Sportscar 2004 by BBC Top Gear ?bringing the total number of awards to over 50 since the cars debut in 1995. In America, the Elise goes on sale and was star of the Show at the Los Angeles Motorshow. ?In November, Kim Ogaard-Nielsen is appointed as CEO of Group Lotus plc.?20 000th Lotus Elise Drives Off The Production Line, making it the most popular Lotus ever. 2005 Growth, expansion and success?The new Elise set a new one-year sales record in the USA, firmly re-establishing Lotus as the pure sports car brand for the U.S. market. Over 2,300 cars were delivered, establishing the Elise as the most successful model in Lotus' 57-year history. The Lotus Sport Exige, the 400bhp 850kg GT2 specification race car debuted in 2005 and built by Lotus Sport, Hethel, UK, won the Petronas Primax 3 Merdeka Millennium 12 Hour Endurance race trophy at the International Sepang circuit, Malaysia on Sunday 27th August. ?Lotus Engineering reveals its Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) concept. 2006 New plans announced Mike Kimberley rejoins Lotus as CEO. At the Geneva motor show Lotus Engineering unveiled APX ('Aluminium Performance Crossover') vehicle, a fully running concept prototype embodying many of the technological philosophies Lotus had been following in its R&D programmes. Engineering produce the Biofuel Exige 265E. a factory-built Exige S optimized to run on E85 fuel, which is 85% ethanol. The higher octane of this biofuel enables a higher compression ratio and/or more supercharger boost. This was an exploratory concept only. The Sport Exige GT3 secures victory in the 2006 British GT Manufacturers Championship, driven by George Mackinstosh and Sam Blogg. The Type 1 Lotus watch appears on the market and proves hugely popular. The new Europa S Tourer goes on sale. The Europa had a more luxurious interior than its sister models Elise and Exige and was more touring orientated. Lotus Group International Limited (LGIL) holding company of Group Lotus, announces its intention to launch two additional new models over the next three years. This is in addition to the new Esprit. Lotus Engineering will become the lead engineering and development consultant for Jinhua Youngman Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Youngman) which is launching a new range of cars under a new brand name over the next five years. 2007 Group Lotus recapitalised Group Lotus announced that its debt capitalisation was completed on 31st March 2007, with the support of shareholder, Proton Holdings Berhad. The arrangement secured the restructuring of approximately £45m of loans to equity, returning the company to a positive balance sheet. In January Lotus went into the Guinness Book of Records for the biggest meet of any marque when 311 Lotus cars turned up at Brands Hatch and formed a nose to tail lap. The 2 Eleven is launched at Geneva Motorshow, promising exceptional performance coupled with high levels of usability. The Lotus 2-Eleven is aimed at the true track day enthusiast, taking Colin Chapman's philosophy of `Performance Through Light Weight' to its most extreme level yet. 2008 Evora Launch The all new Evora is unveiled - the first all-new car to be launched by Lotus since the Elise made its debut in 1995. The only mid-engined 2+2 on the market, the Evora is powered by a Lotus-tuned 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 280 PS, and weighing just 1382 kg. Group Lotus plc, announced the creation of Lotus Lightweight Structures, following the acquisition of Holden Lightweight Structures Limited, securing the supply of aluminium fabrications for use on Lotus production, and to support client projects. The ClarkType 25 was launched as a limited edition to celebrate his genius as a driver. Lotus celebrates its 60th anniversary with a celebratory event at Hethel. The event was opened by the late Colin Chapman's wife, Hazel and son, Clive. The Eco Elise was shown at the London International Motor Show; an eco-friendly concept car using sustainable materials to create an Elise that has better environmental credentials throughout its entire lifecycle. Lotus Engineering celebrated being awarded "The Engineer Technology + Innovation Award of 2008" with another environmentally focused project. The winning project, Project HOTFIRE, developed a gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine concept that reduced fuel consumption by 15% and was named the leading academic collaborative project in the automotive sector. The Lotus Sport 2-Eleven GT4 Supersport race car asserted itself at the pinnacle of the 2-Eleven range, combining race winning pedigree with unparalleled handling and balance. 2009 Mike Kimberley, retires as CEO. In September, Dany Bahar became CEO of Group Lotus, formerly Bahar was Senior Vice President, Commercial & Brand for Ferrari SpA Evora wins a multitude of awards, including the prestigious 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 "Britiain's Best Driver's Car". Lotus announces the appointments of Claudio Berro as Director of Motorsport, and Donato Coco as Director of Design for Group Lotus. The Lotus 2-Eleven GT4 Supersport made a strong debut at the Dubai International 24 hour endurance race. Lotus Engineering, unveiled the Range Extender engine at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. In a series hybrid vehicle. The Range Extender engine was attached to an electricity generator and provides a highly efficient source of energy to power the electric motor directly or charges the vehicles battery. The battery could also power the electric motor which enables the design of a drivetrain that has low emissions, optimised performance and acceptable range. The Lotus Evora Type 124 Endurance Racecar was developed from the award-winning Evora road car and is built to FIA regulations and safety standards. The Type 124 (pronounced One Twenty Four) Endurance Racecar is the next step in the evolution of the Evora. In October Lotus is honoured to welcome the King and Queen of Malaysia to Hethel. 2010- The Evora Cup is announced. Lotus Engineering welcomes a new Director of Lotus Engineering, Dr Robert Hentschel. In January Andreas Prillmann is appointed as CCO of Lotus Cars, and Donato Coco as Director of Design, both formerly of Ferrari. At the International Geneva Motor Show Lotus Engineering unveiled the Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid concept, a high performance technology demonstrator with a plug-in series hybrid drive system and new technologies for enhanced driver involvement. Model Naomi Campbell and Lotus joined forces to raise money to help victims of the Haiti disaster by producing a limited edition. The cars were auctioned and raised over £300,000. 2010 2010 Lotus has entered into a new technical and commercial partnership with established IndyCar competitors KV Racing Technology to run in the 2010 IndyCar Series. The Lotus IndyCar will use the classic Racing Green and Yellow livery used on Lotus Racing cars in the 1950s and 1960s and this new livery will debut at the first USA round of the IndyCar Series. Driving the Lotus IndyCar was the former F1 driver Takuma Sato. Lotus announced the new 2011 MY Lotus Elise which has a emission figure of of 149g of CO2 / km which represents a significant reduction over the previous Lotus Elise S.