Founded by skilled British inventor and designer Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman in 1952, Lotus Cars has been a name to reckon with in the realm of sports and racing cars. The company, whose logo features the letters ACBC prominently in honour of its founder, was initially set up as Lotus Engineering Ltd. Chapman- a Formula One enthusiast and participant himself- was responsible for designing some of the most famous Lotus cars, many of which went on to win the Formula One World Championship.
During the six decades of its existence, Lotus has been through many ups and downs, be it bankruptcies or even cessation of operations. However, the brand has managed to remain a status symbol due to its success in racing.
Lotus Engineering started with a factory in Hornset, London. Team Lotus, that had been very active and efficient in Formula 1 racing, split off from the company in 1954. Subsequently, the Lotus Group of Companies, comprising Lotus Cars Limited and Lotus Components Limited, was established in 1959. Twelve years later, Lotus Components Limited was renamed as Lotus Racing Ltd.
General Motors bought the company in 1986; however, after almost seven years, General Motors sold it to Romano Artioli’s company ACBN Holdings. Finally, in 1996, majority holding of the company was sold to Malaysian automobile manufacturer Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (Proton).
Popular car, popular people
Some of the most successful car racers are associated with Lotus. These include Ayrton Senna, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Mario Andretti, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Stirling Moss.
Lotus car Esprit earned a lot of fame and sales after it was launched in a James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me.
Lotus and Formula One Racing
The company has been associated with racing right from 1958. Lotus 18 won the marquee’s first Grand Prix in the year 1960. Then in 1963, the Jim Clark-driven Lotus 25 won the F1 World Constructors Championship. Lotus continued to be in the limelight in the 1960s until Jim Clark met with a fatal accident while driving his Lotus 48.
But it is not just winning the championships that Lotus is known for. It created the first ever Glass Fiber Monocoque chassis in Elite. It is also known for establishing the popular mid-engine configuration as well as integrating engine and transaxle as part of chassis. It was also among the first ones to add wings and shape the under-surface of the cars so as to result in down-force. It also shifted the radiators on the sides facilitating aerodynamic performance.
Lotus won 79 Grand Prix races. However, Team Lotus stopped participating in Formula 1 after the 1994 season. Then, in 2010, a Malaysian team Lotus Racing entered Formula 1, which is now being called Team Lotus.
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