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Lotus Electric Cars

W hen the name Lotus is mentioned the Colin Chapman comes into mind. The founder of Anthony Colin Bruce was born of ordinary, parents in the area of England on May 9, 1928. His was a hotel manager. His youth was with typical English antics and schooling.

By the age of 17 he was entering the College of London University to engineering. And, as any story motorcars would begin, was already travelling about on his 350cc motorcycle. Unfortunately the was short lived and by the University’s dance the Panther was written having been smashed the door of a taxi.

His interest had yet to be piqued but, with the of Christmas Colin was presented a ’37 maroon Morris 8

Colin Chapman

The Morris was with Colin’s attention and was for transporting himself to and from is and the University. Often he would fellow students Colin and Hazel Williams, who Colin had met at a in 1945, as passengers in his journeys. journeys were not without and adventure.

But Colin had turned into sport, always in setting new records for traveling the between home and Hazel’s, Dare’s and school in the shortest of time.

It was soon after the London University, that he and Dare began a second car sales business. The year 1946 cars were and the business boomed, growing to one to two being bought and sold per Often lectures were in order that deals be secured. As the inventory of cars the space to keep the cars insufficient and the two Colins were stashing cars in the lock up behind Hazel’s home. The buying and selling became and the two Colins grew into and improving their cars placing them on the block.

brought greater profits, but work. This booming was not to last as in 1947 the British did away with the basic rationing and new cars became and the demand for second hand crashed. The business was disbanded and remained was an old clapped out 1937 7.

He qualified as a pilot while a student, then graduated as a engineer from University London in 1948, before his National Service as a pilot in the

In 1952 he founded the Lotus Co Ltd, using a small from Hazel Williams, his wife, to buy and sell used Initially he modified and raced cars himself in trials and selling each to finance or converting the next, while full-time for the British Aluminium In 1954 Chapman was able to up running Lotus Engineering as a job, and to set up Team Lotus to the racing.

By this stage he was working as a consultant for the BRM and Vanwall 1 teams. Among his first employees were Graham and Keith Duckworth and Mike (the pair who founded — the latter became chief aerodynamicist, having worked for de Havilland).

Austin

Lotus’s Formula 1 debut in 1958. Over the next 24 Chapman’s moustache and cloth cap he threw into the air whenever Lotus won a race) would familiar at tracksides around the He was a constant source of technical and it is probably fair to say that he did than anyone else to motor racing worldwide.

He of a heart attack on 16 December, By this time, he was embroiled in the financial waters of the Delorean that would eventually claim the life of his team.

CHAPMAN AS DRIVER

Chapman out building cars to drive He developed quite a reputation the British club-racing scene, in 1951 as he dominated in the Lotus III so that the formula was changed to his car. He entered the 1956 Grand Prix, qualifying 5th in a though he did not start the race. His career was curtailed by his growing to the team — he was no longer an that could be risked in the lethal world of top-level racing of the early 1960s.

His other major race was the British Grand Prix car support race, which he won in a

A true genius, many of his can still be seen in Formula 1 and top levels of motor sport as Indycars) today.


He pioneered the use of as a rear suspension device. today, struts used in the of a vehicle are known as Chapman

His next major innovation was to the use of monocoque (stressed-skin) unibodies it replaced both the body and which until then had separate components) for cars. was the first major advance in he introduced aeroplane technology to The resultant body was both stronger (i.e. stiffer), and provided better driver in the event of a crash.

The first to feature this technology was the Elite, in 1958. Amazingly, the of the car was made out of fibreglass, making it the first car made out of composites.

In he extended this innovation to cars, with the revolutionary 25 Formula 1 car. This fairly quickly replaced had been for many decades the in racing-cars, the tube-frame chassis. the material has changed from aluminium to carbon fibre, remains today the standard for building top-level racing

It was he who really brought aerodynamics being a first-rank influence on car He popularized the concept of positive downforce, through the addition of and rear wings. Early were mounted 3 feet or so the car, in order to operate in air’ (i.e. air that not otherwise be disturbed by the passage of the

However the thin supporting failed regularly, forcing the FIA to the wings to be attached directly to the He also pioneered the movement of away from the front of the to decrease air resistance at speed. of these concepts also features of high performance cars today.

Another of Chapman’s was ground effect, a partial vacuum was created the car by use of venturis, generating downforce held it securely to the road cornering, etc. (Modern cars generate enough that they could be driven on the ceiling once are up to speed, although the fuel and other parts of the car rely on and so a Formula One car could not in reality be upside down.) Initially technique utilized sliding which made contact the ground to keep the area of low isolated. The skirts were banned, for if during cornering the car over a curb, and the skirt damaged, downforce was lost, and the car became extremely unstable. remains a critical part of car technology, and modern designers, by extensive wind tunnel have regained most of was lost through the banning of

His last major technical was the creation of the dual-chassis car design, in different parts of the vehicle given different suspension. The of this by the FIA really upset and may have precipitated ill health, was to dog him for the final few years of his life. it inspired active suspension, by Lotus.

It wasn’t purely as a designer he excelled; he was also a canny who introduced sponsorship into 1, beginning the process of raising the from gentlemens’ entertainment to a pound enterprise. Unfortunately, he a bad decision to become involved a new venture of his friend John De to manufacture sports cars. The extent of his involvement has never made public, but it is believed he have been prosecuted for his of inveigling government funds.

Chapman

1950s Origins

The car that we now call a Lotus was by Colin Chapman in a lock-up behind his girl friend’s in 1946 or 1947. At the time he it an Austin Seven Special, and it in mud plugging trials in 1948. The car he actually called a Lotus, at the was built in 1949 whilst he was in the Air Force, and was built in the same garage. It was also intended for in trials, and was fitted with a powerful Ford engine of the Austin Seven unit in the previous car.

Chapman sure that it could be used as a practical road and in 1950 entered it in his first at Silverstone, where he took on a 37 Bugatti and won! This his whole interest in motor and he decided to build a road sports car to compete in the new 750 Formula in

This car was called the Lotus Mk and his previous car became the Lotus Mk II, and the Austin Seven Special the Lotus Mk I — long it had been sold! The new racer was in the same lock-up garage, but Chapman met the Allen brothers, and Nigel, who had a very well workshop beside their and were persuaded to join him in a team of three racers for the new They only had time to one, and it was an enormous success in winning every race it in the 750 Formula, and often beating of double the engine size in races.

The Lotus Engineering was formed on 1st January 1952 Michael and Colin as the two directors, and started to build the car which was to be the production Lotus, the Mark VI. In fitted with the new 1.5 litre Consul engine, it raced before being written off in a accident. Several orders had ben from customers, and an order for six frames was placed by Lotus two friends who formed the Progress Company to build them.

Engineering Company became a liability company on 25th 1952. on 1st January 1953 was joined by Mike Costin, working in their spare from their day jobs.

success with the Mark VI in encouraged Chapman to build a version for 1954, and fitted a 1.5 litre MG engine, this and the earlier Mk VI, beat the works in the sports car race before the Grand Prix at Silverstone. had arrived, and new cars were ordered in sufficient numbers for and Mike Costin to give up day jobs and work for Lotus time on 1st January 1955.

first raced at Le Mans in with the Mk IX. Chapman and Flockhart some time due to a slipping but were running well the car was disqualified when Chapman it out of a sand bank after an excursion.

The Eleven sports followed, and with the new Coventry engine they were the to have if you wanted to win races. In an updated version of the Mark VI called the Seven. This was so that it is still in production now the Caterham Seven).

A single seat Lotus in 1957 and Lotus won the Index of at Le Mans. Lotus had outgrown the premises at Hornsey, and in 1959 to a purpose built factory at

Lotus Elite 1960

Growth

The new factory was needed to the revolutionary new Lotus Elite, a two coupe with integral body/chassis. Lotus entered 1 in 1958 and by 1960 with first rear-engined car, the a Lotus won its first Grand driven by Stirling Moss.

The showed steady growth of both on the race track, Jim Clark won two World Championships, and in the place with the new Lotus still thought by many to be the ever sports car, and in with Ford, the Lotus-Cortina. The new DFV from Cosworth brought F1 success, and Lotus won at Indianapolis.

The engined Europa followed, and keen to be rid of his kit-car image, off the Seven to Caterham Cars and to start building cars for a income bracket. Cheshunt was too and the final move was made to near Norwich in Norfolk in where a new four seater also named the Elite, production with their own 2 Lotus engine.

1970s

On the track the 70s were a continuing story in all the single seat but sports car racing had virtually with the unsuccessful Lotus 30 and 40

The was followed by the lower priced the Esprit two seat Coupe, and the Lotus which won the Rally in 1981. Then in 1982 the shattering news that Chapman had died at the age of only 54. To of those interested in historic cars that was the end of the era, and Lotus withdrew from 1 in 1995.

Group Lotus to be a leading figure in the world of engineering, and recent success the Elise has done much to their deserved prestige.

The Years in F1

In 1965 the team won F1 championships, the Indy 500, the Tasman series and the British and F2 titles. In fact, Jim Clark led lap of every race that he that year and scored points. Just five after their first F1 Lotus were indisputably the team in the world.

They win the Tasman series again in and 1968.

Their 1966 was hampered by uncompetitive BRM engines, switched from Coventry that year. But the following bought a return to form a new chassis design and a new engine The Lotus 49 was another seminal It won first time out in 1967, reliability issues prevented it taking the title that It took the idea of stressed a step further, using the as stressed member (in other the wheels and rear wing connected directly to the engine.

was no rear bodywork). Doing with the rear bodywork on weight, and the air was so turbulent by the time it had over the whole car that the — rear aerodynamics was having little effect As a side-effect, this also the best possible view of the DFV engine, which would go on to win races than any other The Ford was the first engine to be by the manufacturer for the team. Again, all motorsport engines are now built way.

Wings and slick appeared around this but were not developed by any F1 team. were virtually the only technical advances of this not made by Lotus.

Like the 25, the 49 was known as much for its good looks as for its performance on the (though those looks marred in later seasons by the of unsightly wings). To cap a superlative the Jim Clark/Graham Hill driver was one of the strongest ever.

The Ford-Cosworth proved so powerful that the F1 asked Chapman to make it to other teams from onwards, as otherwise there be no serious competition. For nearly 20 afterwards, aside from and BRM, all race-winning teams off-the-shelf Ford Cosworth Only the arrival of the turbo era displaced it.

Jim Clark and Driver

Scottish ex-farmer Jim Clark was an part of the Lotus team this period. He was possibly the naturally talented racing ever. He won two F1 titles before in an F2 race in 1968. Lotus was the team he ever drove and he was one of Chapman’s closest friends; the two personalities seemed to match. his prowess, Clark never won at regarded by many as the circuit tests a driver’s skill the

In part this is because, as above, he missed the Monaco Prix several times to in the Indy 500. Chapman was by Clark’s death, and considered the team. Only Graham strong leadership and championship-winning held the team together.

Rindt also died at the of a Lotus (uniquely, he became posthumously in 1970), as did Alan These events — and Moss’ near-fatal crash in one of cars — affected profoundly, though probably to the same extent as Clark’s Long after Moss was to laugh off his injuries, Chapman be moved to anger by any light-hearted to the incident.

Team Colours and

When Lotus first Formula 1, every car ran in its national For British cars like that meant British Green. The teams differentiated by using different shades, or by coloured stripes.

The Lotus colours were therefore with a yellow stripe the centre of the car.

Sponsorship at time was limited to a few oil and tyre paying the teams to be able to say their products were When the rules were Chapman was the first to repaint his car in his sponsor’s colours — the Leaf tobacco brand. was to be the start of a long association F1 and tobacco money, and all race now run in sponsors’ colours.

Lotus Electric Cars

In the late Lotus switched brands to Player Special. Their livery became one of the most in sports sponsorship history. also became the first to name his cars after his insisting that they be as John Player Special

Again, this practice has standard throughout all formulae of

LOTUS ROAD CARS

not being the race team, Cars occasionally entered in sports events. Here Lotus ingenuity was in evidence. The cars were the first to use headlamps for aerodynamic efficiency. The strut (essentially a McPherson used on the rear suspension) is now a suspension design, though it has in terms of height and side-load.

The ‘backbone’ layout (a central with the bodywork radiating it) remains one of the most efficient designs, giving superb

Following is a list of some of the Lotus road-cars.

The Lotus VI was the production car from Lotus, it predated the formation of Lotus as a separate company. It used a small Ford engine and bodywork to be fast and nimble.

The Lotus 7 . not to be confused with the VII, was based on the Lotus XI. It was by Lotus between 1957 and when the rights to production sold to Caterham, who still it as the Caterham 7. This was the first kit and became the basis of most kit cars. The ‘kit car’ was Lotus first — than selling a car, sold all the parts for the car, instructions on how to assemble it.

This both labour costs and and was possible because of the Lotus philosophy — sports from a standard engine and design.

Lotus 7

The Lotus (1957), was another groundbreaking It used a fibreglass monocoque, thirty years before were first used in It won the Index of Thermal Efficiency and class at Le Mans in 1958, and and 14th overall.

The name was recycled for an unrelated model.

The Cortina (Lotus 28, 1963) was a Ford, but assigned a Lotus An upgrade to the rather mundane Cortina, this became a getaway car for London gangsters, with the Jaguar E-Type, of its low cost, high performance and handling.

The Lotus Europa 46) is not now remembered as one of Lotus’ best but managed to use its 85hp Renault to get from 0-60 in under 10

The Lotus Esprit (Lotus 79) one of the company’s backbones. It featured in two Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me white car that turns a sub) and For Your Eyes (the red car that explodes). turbo versions continue to in sports-car races, and this was the production car Lotus ever The mid-engine configuration places in the optimum position for grip, but so, 210bhp in a relatively light car is to set the tyres alight when the clutch at 4800rpm. Grip takes over, 8psi on the boost gauge and 30mph up in only 2.5 secs, 60mph in 6.1 we did manage 5.9 seconds on one occasion and in 15.8 secs.

Impressive figures when one considers we were hampered by the rev limiter cut in early at 6900rpm rather the correct 7100rpm. Incremental in the gears are as good, or marginally than our previous car from onwards. The time from 50 to to top is now 6.6 seconds a reduction of 1.9 secs, 70 to 90mph, 6.7 secs two seconds and from 100mph to 120mph, 2.5 faster at 10.6 seconds.

Esprit Turbo

The Lotus 84, or . and its upgrade, the Lotus 89, or Excel . are the Lotuses, lacking the success or of their brethren.

The Lotus (Lotus 26) used backbone and became another top-seller for the Its basic design has been by many other motor-car notably Mazda’s MX5 (the Car’). Production ran from to 1974. It was also innovative in its use of bodywork and all-independent suspension.Weighing 1,200lbs, featuring a very low of gravity, minimal body due to a race-car-derived, all-independent suspension, steering, and 4-wheel disc the Elan has been a familiar on the race track as well.

Its tuneable 1558cc, Ford-derived engine features a twin cam head and develops 100hp/liter only minor tweaks.

In Lotus was taken over by Motors following the Lotus disastrous collapse. In 1990 won the US SECA sports-cars championship, victories in half the races. also produced an upgraded of the Vauxhall Carlton (known as the in the USA). In 1992, Chris won Olympic gold on a carbon-fibre, Lotus bicycle, demonstrating not only was the company still of innovative design, it was not restricted to 1992 also saw another US championship title.

Yet the company continued to lose and in 1993 it was sold to Bugatti. years later, it was sold to Proton. This is now the only arm of the company, and appears to be running

It has recently moved back the consultancy arena, tweaking the of a few Protons and designing the Vauxhall

The reason behind the return to form is the Lotus Elise . to the basic principles of a light, agile two-seater roadster, have once again a classic design, which to sell well even in its redesigned form.

Lotus chassis

Lotus’ latest is the Lotus 119 . which ran (the way, downhill) at the 2002 Festival of Speed. Not only is one of the fastest cars Lotus built, it has no engine! It is believed to be the box-car ever built, of 200mph on a 45 degree slope.

Engineering — Pure

The consultancy business was always the of the Lotus group. When were hard for the road car the engineering division could be upon to provide a steady It is therefore perhaps ironic it was this division that was to lead to the group’s collapse its involvement with the Delorean Much of the 54 million pounds out to the Delorean Motor Company to a plant in Belfast disappeared. were involved because were approached by Delorean to put the touches to the troublesome chassis (they scrapped it and used an chassis, a fact which was quiet at the time).

It seems Chapman’s need to be constantly a new way around the rules rather patiently improving an existing extended to his financial dealings and it is probable that his demise him from a lengthy and ignominious term. When the scandal and Lotus‘ involvement clear, including a criminal into its Managing Director and senior personnel, sponsors for the dried up. With no recent successes to fall back on, the team foundered, taking the branches of the business with it.

As above, the road-car business and the rights to the F1 team name pass hands for small of money. But the Lotus name is carved deeply into the of automotive design, and will there.

Lotus is working at top to design and develop a secret new supercar to replace the 25-year-old in two years’ time. Depicted is an official Lotus drawing above, enhanced by computer the new Esprit a mid-engine two-door with compact styling and sophisticated aerodynamics, ultra-agile and a top speed close to 200mph is engineered to suit all the major car of the world. Lotus aims to markedly better performance and for money than established like the Porsche 911, 360 and Lamborghini Gallardo.

Lotus supplied this illustration of a new in 1995, which may or may not be the new Esprit.

Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars

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