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Welcome to "About exotic cars". A news- and photoblog about exotic cars, common cars and car experiences.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lotus: British sportscars made for ever

The Lotus comes in many different types. From the first Elite until the latest Europa S. Their names all start with the letter E: Eleven, Elite, Elan, Eclat, Esprit, Elise, Exige and Europa S. In this article you will get to know more about Lotus, the reason why every Lotus starts with an "E" and in particular, the Exige.

About Lotus
Lotus has its factory in the British township of Hethel, Norfolk since 1948 and in that year they built the first Lotus, the Mark 1. Colin Chapman, an engineer, was responsible for the design of the Mark 1 that was supposed to racing in the future. A year later the Mark 2 was built and in 1951 the Mark 3 was ready. Engineer Colin Chapman wanted to keep the Lotus as light as possible. That has always been the strength of the Lotus cars. They were lightweight and had a lot of power. All the stuff that didn't have to be in the car, was not in it. No wheel ratification, no radio etc. The first car Lotus built for the road was the Mark 6.

If you're looking closely at the last series of Lotus car built, you can see that their names start with the letter "E". What's the deal with this? Before the Lotus Eleven was fabricated, all cars had names like Mark 1, Mark 2 etc. The Eleven was supposed to be called Mark 11 but this was very confusing with the Roman numbers II. These numbers mean 2. So Lotus decided it was better to write the names in letters. Ever since every new Lotus car starts with the letter "E", until the Europa S which can be found at your local Lotus dealer as we speak. We know the Lotus Seven, Eleven, Elite, Elan, Europa, Eclat, Esprit, Elise, Exige and Europa S. Strangely there are no Mark 5 / V and Mark 10 / X built, the reason remains unknown.

The first "E" is the Eleven. This car was ready for sale in 1956 and in the following 4 years Lotus had sold about 270 cars. Also built in 1956: the first Lotus Formula 1 car: the XII.

Lotus has worked together with other companies quite a few times. New owners came and left. Lotus changed it's name in 1985 to Lotus Cars and a year later the company is taken over by an American company called General Motors, well known of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Pontiac. The big Americans bought a small company. Why? Perhaps General Motors saw that Lotus wanted to expand the production and Lotus did just that by starting the development of the Elise. In 1995 the Elise was ready for sale, two years after General Motors sold its share to the French car builders of Bugatti, currently known for it's top model: the Veyron. I had never expected that Lotus would ever be owned by a company that is currently selling the fastest road car. This quick, French getaway only lasted 5 years before the Asians showed up. An Asian car company called DRB HICOM bought more than half of the shares in the company. The Malaysians were already familiar with brands like Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes. Another Malaysian company called Proton bought 16% of the shares in 1998. Two years ago Proton split the company in two: Group Lotus and Lotus Engineering.

Lotus Exige
The British bomb on wheels. Hessing and Van Der Kooi are the Dutch companies that import the Exige from the United Kingdom. The S1, Series 1, was brought on the market in 2000 with a 1.8 liter Rover K Series engine which produces 170 bhp. If you compare the Exige with the Elise, you can see a carbon fibre roof, wider fenders, a big spoiler at the back and a ventilation inlet at the roof. Four years later Lotus introduced the Exige S2, the Series 2. Some of the mayor differences with the Series 1 are the lights at the back, the same as you will find at the Lotus Elise S2. Other than that, the car looks better, it's more aerodynamical. Lotus changed the engine for a 1.8 liter Toyota engine which produces 190 bhp. The sport seats keep the driver and passenger in their place. The Exige S1 is a combination of the Elise S1 and Elise S2. It has the looks of the Elise S1 and the size of the S2. The Exige S2 is better looking and more extreme than the Exige S1. You buy the car to get noticed, to make the center of a posh place clear you're there and to make the people in the PC Hooftstraat look around because a Bentley Continental GT is far from spectacular there. The Lotus Exige is a sensation to drive and to be driven in.

"My Exige"
The Lotus Exige I had a ride in is a Series 2, weighs around 875 kg and has a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. The Toyota engine gives you around 190 bhp. It doesn't sound like a lot but keep in mind that the car weighs under 1000 kg so it accelerates incredibly fast. You're being pushed back in your seat when the car accelerates. You feel the adrenaline pumping thru your veins. It's a huge sensation to be in the car. The car accelerates very fast but it also has very good brakes, you can come to a full stop in a matter of seconds. Very convenient. This specific Exige S2 has a sportspack with double oil coolers, lightweight dark rims, ProBax sportseats, a Lotus Traction Control System (TCS) and embroided Exige logos in the seats. The standard exhausts are switched for a Stage 2 exhaust system meaning that the pipes are bigger and create more noise.

We drove from the city of Alkmaar to Bergen. Immediately after leaving Alkmaar it became clear to me how much noise the car makes. If you reach 6000 rpm, you cannot have a normal conversation! It's that loud! The sound of the engine is overwhelming! Your position in the car is very low, you're noticing that when the car is parked next to a "normal" car. Funny details: the car actually has a rear view mirror. This mirror has no use at all as you don't see anything when you look in it! It's just there because the Dutch road authority wants it. You get a lot of people looking at you when you're driving. Many people are looking when the car passes by. We saw kids pointing at the car saying "wooow" and "ooohh". That was amazing. Now I know how an owner should feel when driving his car. It gives you a certain feeling of pride.

I would like to thank the owner for giving me a day I will never forget. I never had so much fun. When I got back on the train I still didn't realize what I've just experienced. More pictures are available by e-mail.

Lotus Exige S2


Anonymous romeoi2 said...

This is such a powerful car! Good for you to have a day long ride with this beauty :-) The automobile industry is becoming bigger and bigger. Every year, we have new models released in the market. True enough, there are expensive cars out there. If you have plans of buying second hand cars, do you know that you can buy cars from Japan directly ? As you may know already, online Japan used car sales increases effectively. Thanks for posting Lotus info, it sure is a helpful one for car fanatics and I was hoping I could have the same day driving with this beauty.

April 22, 2007 at 6:47 PM


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