Lotus Make Overview
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|Lotus Carlton||Lotus Elan||Lotus Eleven|
|Lotus Elise||Lotus Esprit||Lotus Europa|
|Lotus Evora||Lotus Exige||Lotus Seven|
|Lotus Super Seven|
Lotus, a sports car manufacturer that was owned for a spell by General Motors, is based in Norfolk, England. These flyweight cars are not nearly as popular on the road as they are on the track, but their highly-capable engineers are sought after by many other carmakers to add input to all engineering aspects of car production.
The first Lotus was built circa 1949 by an engineer named Colin Chapman; this wasn't his first car, but it was the first called a Lotus. Chapman's goal was to produce cars of exceptional handling that were light enough for racing yet practical for road driving.
Chapman joined forces with a pair of brothers, Michael and Nigel Allen, and founded the Lotus Engineering Company in 1952. Things went well for quite a while until Colin Chapman suffered a fatal heart attack at the young age of 54, in 1982. The sale to GM happened in 1986 and lasted until 1993; a Malaysian company now holds the majority share of Lotus.
Most Lotus models through the decades have been named in a progressive series of numbers, from the Lotus Mk1 in 1948 to 1953's Lotus Six. The highest-numbered Lotus is the 121, built in 2006. Today there are two street-legal Lotus models available to the U.S. consumer: the Elise and the Exige. The latter is a version of the former modified to have more downforce.
If you see a Lotus on the road, consider yourself lucky. And if you get the opportunity to drive one, you'll be very fortunate indeed. Now that they're easier to come by in the U.S., we should be seeing more of these beauties than ever before.