Out now: the Autocade Yearbook 2024
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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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Lotus was founded in 1952 by Colin Chapman, who had built his first car based around a 1930s Austin Seven some years earlier. Its first production car was the Mk VI racer, and Lotus pursued the racing market, successfully competing in Formula 1. The Élite sports car was released in 1957 and began a line of road cars. The Élan followed in 1962, and the Europa in 1967. It moved to Norfolk in the mid-1960s.

The 1970s saw Lotus move upmarket, but financial difficulties beset the company, while Chapman’s death in 1982 did not help matters. In 1983, Toyota acquired part of Lotus, before Lotus was bought outright by GM in 1986. The company was then sold on to Bugatti in 1993, under which the lightweight Elise was born, but with Bugatti’s own difficulties, it was sold to Proton in 1996.

Under Proton, Lotus has largely stuck to Elise-based and Esprit models, though it has built the Opel Speedster and Tesla Roadster for those companies. An ambitious plan to expand the range upwards in the 2010s was announced, but the new models never saw the light of day. In 2017, Geely bought a 51 per cent stake in the firm.


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024