Lotus cars was first formed in 1952 by an enthusiastic racing car driver called Colin Chapman who believed - as he proved so often – that the way to build a successful racing car was to make it as light as possible. He used to say that putting in a bigger engine made the car go faster on the straights, but making it lighter made it go faster everywhere! Big engines of course require big heavy chassis to hold them so what he said made good sense.
Regular racing successes proved the truth of his beliefs and over the years his company has created tens of thousands of lightweight, right up-to-date sports and racing cars, and Lotus Cars is one of the very few car manufacturers of that era to be still be in business, although Chapman himself sadly died in 1982.
Why call the company Lotus? You may ask. Rumour has it that his then girlfriend (afterwards wife) was nicknamed 'Lotus Blossom' so he named the company after her. This may well be true and it may be a company tradition since the Lotus Elise was named after Elisa Artioli, the granddaughter of the then chairman of Lotus, Romano Artioli.
The Elise proved so popular that versions of it are still being produced and sold today.
At it's launch it was a fun car, pure and simple. Weight had been pared down to the absolute minimum. The body was made of fibreglass, over an aluminium chassis and complete with a 1.8 litre Rover K series engine it tipped the scales at just 1,600 pounds. The straight four-cylinder engine produced 118 brake horsepower giving a maximum speed of 125 mph and acceleration of nought to 60 in 5.8 seconds but that wasn't all it's appeal. Roadholding and cornering was exceptional and both braking and fuel consumption benefited from the car's light weight.
Although the car was extremely strong and lightweight the design was not an expensive one to build and so prices have remained extremely reasonable for such a fast and fun car to drive, which is one of the main reasons for the model's longevity.
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