A-Z Of Marques: Lotus

The marque: Sports and racing-car builder much admired, frequently in crisis

The history: Colin Chapman created his first racing car in 1948, an Austin Seven-based special called Lotus. In 1952 he set up Lotus Engineering behind his father's pub in Hornsey, north London, and his 1957 Lotus Seven is still made today by Caterham Cars. In 1959 Lotus set itself up in Cheshunt, Hertforshire and by 1963 the Lotus 25, driven by Jim Clark, won the F1 Championship.

The fragile Elite gave way to the Elan. Race successes kept on coming, even after Clark's ghastly death in a Formula Two Lotus at Hockenheim in 1968, and Chapman moved Lotus upmarket with the Elite, Eclat and mid-engined Esprit, but financial doom was never far away. Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982.

Since then, the Lotus philosophy has been lightness and simplicity. Today Lotus is owned mainly by Proton and the Elise is riding high.

Defining model: Elise. It embodies Lotus values.

They say: Add lightness.

We say: But make sure something's left at the end.

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