The iconic Caterham Seven is on the cusp of celebrating four decades of uninterrupted production and sales; hard to imagine that one of Colin Chapman’s first attempts at a sports car would outlast everything he produced in the post-F1 era of Lotus – hell, it may even outlast Lotus itself.
I’m not a reporter. I don’t even pretend to be one. What I do is tell stories and sometimes, if I am fortunate, they resonate with people. So when guy name Joe here in Buffalo contacted me and offered me a ride in his 1995 Lotus Esprit I was torn. Naturally, I wanted a ride, who wouldn’t? Still, I had to tell him up-front that I didn’t know if that a ride would generate a story good enough for the illustrious readership here at TTAC. Luckily for me, he invited me over anyhow and I got my ride, but in the end it turns out I was right. A ride, no matter how exhilarating, really wasn’t enough for me to create an entire story. That’s fortunate though, because Joe’s story about his almost lifelong connection to this one specific car is better than anything I could have invented.
Until the modern day revival of electric vehicles like the Teslas, Nissan’s Leaf or the Chevy Volt, the best selling electric car ever was the Detroit Electric, produced by the Anderson Carriage company from 1907 to 1939. They sold thousands of them (1914 was the high water mark with ~4,500 produced). Among the people who drove Detroit Electrics were electricity pioneers Thomas Edison and Charles Steinmetz and the wives of automotive industrialists Henry Ford and Henry Joy (he ran Packard). Interestingly, John D. Rockefeller, who made his enormous fortune from petroleum products like gasoline, owned a pair of Detroit Electric Model 46 Roadsters. Now, not only has the electric car industry been revived, but also the Detroit Electric company, which says it will start producing battery electric sports cars in a Michigan facility by the end of this summer. Following Tesla’s example, their first car will be based on a Lotus, in this case an Exige coupe, and the company promises two other “high performance” models in 2014. (Read More…)
Today, we’re going to talk rebadges. I know what you’re thinking: a TTAC post about rebadges. Here comes an assault on General Motors. You can almost hear the GM PR department groaning, except for the recently departed Joel Ewanick, who doesn’t have time to groan because he’s too busy putting out a garage fire. But I’m going to leave GM out of this. Mostly. Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the more obscure rebadges from the last few decades. They were all badly conceived. Most were poorly executed. And none of them should’ve happened.
In honor of Skyfall‘s opening tomorrow, we bring you one of the better Frankensteins we’ve seen in some time; a white Lotus Esprit, in the same hue as Roger Moore’s own ride in The Spy Who Loved Me, with a heart transplant from a Taurus SHO.
Timothy Cain’s sales numbers for the UK provide a pretty sobering snapshot of Lotus and its quest for survival. Year-to-date, the brand is dead last in the UK sales rankings, outsold by such luminaries as Perodua, Ssangyong and Proton.
Even now-defunct Saab is handily beating Lotus. In October, 16 Saabs were sold, versus 2 Lotus cars. YTD, 231 Saabs have been sold versus 122 Lotus cars. Time for some drastic action, no?
Ben Oliver’s essay in Automobile Magazine might be the best one I’ve read on Lotus and their existential predicament. While my own pieces are full of vitriol and cursing, Ben’s eloquent prose outlines the brand’s biggest problem; lacking the necessary volumes, they need to take advantage of economies of scale and high margins to survive as an auto maker. Sports cars that compete in the Porsche Cayman’s price range and performance envelope aren’t popular with buyers nor do they generate the volumes or profits necessary to keep an independent sports car maker afloat. The proposed option, a series of high-end sports cars built off a modular platform (similar to the Lotus-derived Aston Martin VH architecture) was met with little fanfare. The economic principles were sound, but the proposal alienated the faithful. Over to you, Best & Brightest.
With no less than three outlets reporting on the supposed death of the Lotus Esprit yesterday, one could be forgiven in thinking that Lotus was jettisoning the last of the Danny Bahar era and returning back to its roots as a maker of pure, uncompromising sports cars. It turns out that the reputable news outlets that reported on the matter failed to do any fact checking with Lotus. Also, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
She is twenty-seven or perhaps thirty-one, long-limbed and lithe with clean blond hair pulled straight back – though not in a severe way – from a fine-boned, small-nosed face. That which is not honed by either Pilates or Bikram is flattered by the lycra of her Lululemon yoga capris, the fabric caressing as it flexes. As she bends over to soothe an adorable tow-headed toddler in a six-hundred-dollar ergonomic jogging stroller, I have just one thing on my mind.
That is a really nice stroller. (Read More…)
In all my years of crawling around in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, not to mention old-timey slow-turnover wrecking yards, this is the first Lotus I’ve found. And it’s not just some boring Eclat— it’s a genuine mid-engined Elite! Granted, it’s been picked over pretty thoroughly… (Read More…)
Dany Bahar, the disgraced former CEO of the money-losing British sportscar maker Lotus, sued Lotus and its Malaysian parent DRB-Hicom for wrongful dismissal. According to Bloomberg, Bahar wants 6.7 million pounds ($10.6 million) from Lotus for alleged unlawful early termination of his employment. The media got wind of the lawsuit after DRB-Hicom made a filing at the Kuala Lumpur Bursa. (Read More…)
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for the Dany Bahar-era of Lotus; the company is auctioning off his 2003 Esprit, which was restored with a fresh engine, paint job and interior. A Brembo/AP braking system, a center exit exhaust and a bigger spoiler are among the unique touches on this 36,000 mile cream puff. For a man with such questionable judgement in business, his taste in cars is quite good.
As you read this, an old friend of mine is probably packing. Who knows, he could already be in the air. He was Volkswagen’s boots on the ground in Malaysia, the many times VW wanted to get its boots on the ground in Malaysia. Last time they tried in 2007, they disrupted Dirk’s retirement and sent him to Kuala Lumpur, where dealers of fake watches greeted him as the old friend he was by that time. German media says, Volkswagen did not give up and they are trying again. (Read More…)
Lotus’ new owner, Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom, has revised their future model plans, reducing the scale of former CEO Dany Bahar’s ambitious 5-car lineup.