This British car company adopted a numbering system for all its car however this system wasn't consecutive, it started with 1 and ended at 119, each model produced was given a number to distinguish it, regardless of whether it was a Lotus production car or just a soapbox model. This guide concentrates on the cars that mad a signicant change in the owners history.
The first design was based roughly on a Austin 7 saloon 1930's model in 1948. It was built with thin aluminium bonded to plywood, the university student also tweaked the shocks and engine, the success of this motorcar drove Colin Chapman to continue with car design, all his cars would now be built with basic concept, bodypanels that would substantially strengthen the car however not add any excess weight. This whole philosophy was applied to all Colin's cars for the complete Lotus history.
A Trials car suitable for circuit built in 1942, also participated in track events e.g. Silverstone where Colin won in his class in the car.
A single seated sportscar built as a 750 Racer.
The Lotus Seven began as an uprated version of the successful Mark 6 (which was the first production sports car for the British car manufactuers. This car was pushed as a kit car enabling many sports car lovers to own a dual-purpose road/racing sports car at a reasonable price. Four versions were manufactured up until 1973, the rights to this car were sold to Caterham who still utilise the cars design.
The Elite debuted in 1957 at the Earls Court Motor Show this was the first closed passenger car. It is notorious for its victories in its class at LeMans 24 hour race, production ended in 1962.
The 18 built from 1960 to 1962, the first racing car to utilise a mid-engine setup, however the auto was substanitally less powerful car from its Ferraricompetitiors, however it did have the capabilities to out handle them.
(1962 to 1964) - A really popular model built between 1962 and 1964 based on the Type 19 shocks. Initially, it was powered by a Ford 1100cc engine and later the Lotus engineered Twin Cam. This model had its first debut to the world at the Nürburgring in Germany.
Elan (1962 - 1973)
A real road car, available as a roadster and came with an optional hardtop, then converted into a coupe version. This model was manufactured till 1974, this car became the most produced Lotus ever.
Elan Plus Two (1967 - 1973)
An enlarged backbone chassis, a twin cam engine, disc brakes, independent suspension; and was able to offer two jump seats and a roomier cabin. This was Lotus's first "family" car. The Plus 2 retained all of the sporty performance of the standard version but, added practicality.
This latest incarnation of the model was powered by a 1588cc twin cam 16 valve turbo-charged engine producing 162 bhp, propelling it from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds and to a top speed of 137 mph. The chassis is a hybrid of the Lotus' classic steel backbone mated with advanced composites to create one the stiffest cars in the world.
A little documented 1965 model, which of only three were made. The bodywork of the 40 was striking with 2 stack exhausts angled and fitted in the rear deck. The car was a real beast powered by a healthy Ford 5.3 litre V8, 410 bhp. It was the fastest Lotus racing car built.
Europa (Type 46)
(1966 - 1975) The first a two door non-track, mid-priced, mid-engine GT Coupe car produced, constructed using a steel backbone and fibreglass moulded shell, the Europa was the first mass produced mid engined road car built to compete in Henry Ford II's ' Build a Lemans racing car'. All in all, 9,300 Europas were manufactured.
1971 brought Lotus Clan Crusader a sports two-seater made from fibre glass, it ran the infamous Rootes Imp Sport engine. It was the predesessor of the Europa.
However Colin Chapman didn't accept the designers plans, in contest the engineers and designers formed their own company aided by development grants through the government. Over 350 Crusader's were built by the newly formed Clan Motor Company.
The new Lotus Elite was a four seater powered by a 907 aluminium twin cam 4 valve engine. This was the first four valve production engine to be sold on the open market. The Eclat manufactured from 1975 - 1982, was a fastback version of the new Elite.
The Esprit first debuted in 1974 at the studio of Giugiaro Design, The car was an instant hit with its styling and powerful engine.
The Emotion was developed in 1991, Bertone had the idea of designing a new shell for the aging Esprit, the design was produced by General Motors.
While mainly specialising in scooters, the Brazilian company Emme joined Lotus in 1997 to produce a sedan in 1997, based on the existing Emme 420 and 420T. The turbocharged 16-valve engine produced over 121 hp per litre and 354 Newton metres of torque, achieving 0-60 mph in 4.9 sec, 0-100 mph in 11.9 sec, and with a top speed 171mph. Only between 12-15 were ever built.
Elise (Type 111)
The Lotus Elise was designed and manufctured from 1996 till the present day. The car is conceived as a low production model, the British sportscar has shattered sales expectations and returned Lotus to the forefront of sportscar production. This incredible car has also spawned some very interesting limited editions, including the 340R, the Exige coupe, and several motorsport derivatives.
Lotus Collaboration Cortina
The English division approached Lotus to build 1000 special Cortina GT'srunning twin cam engines for Group 2 racing. This model was completely different to a standard Ford Cortina. it was capable of 105 mph, 0-60 in 9.9 sec, the cra was manufactured from 1963 to 1966. The Lotus Cortina is an extremely rare site today.
The 1980 Sunbeam Lotus, A version of the Lotus 907 engine was dropped into a Talbot Sunbeam shell with some other extras and instantly became a Rally winner. This model had lighting acceleration and appeared a real sheep in wolves clothing.
The Delorean Scandal
Colin Chapman in 1981 had the opportunity to become involved with his friend John DeLorean new project. The DeLorean sport is now famed globally, due its part in the "Back to the Future trilogy", however before this stardom the name was best known for its scandal. It started when John was given tens of millions to develop and manufacture his new sports car in an unemployment blackspot in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the area was located between the Catholic and Protestant communities.
John DeLorean financed Chapman to design an Esprit based design. The car when it was completed was underpowered, overpriced, and a poor quality car all round - DeLorean declared insolvency in January, however this wasn't his only problem, cocaine charges were also looming over him, however this was dropped.
In February, the UK government appointed receivers, October everything stopped production only 8,550 cars had been manufactured.
Colin Chapman the founder of Lotus died of a heart attack in 1982.
Fred Bushell, Lotus MD served a 3 yr sentence. The trial judge said that if Colin had stood court 'Chapman and De Lorean 10 year sentences would have been mandatory' for "an outrageous and massive fraud".
Lotus Carlton/Omega (1990)
Lotus engineered and manufactured a version of the Vauxhall Carlton and Opel Omega 4 door saloon with a gutsy 3.6 lire 24 valve twin turbo straight six engine, merged witha 6 speed gearbox from the Lotus developed Corvette ZR-1, this allowed the Lotus Carlton to max out at 170 mph and 0-60 in under 6 seconds.