Lotus and the Bugatti connection

The story of Rod Mansfield's appointment at Lotus is intimately linked with the fate of another great motoring name, Bugatti. He was appointed by Romano Artioli, an Italian businessman who for the last eight years has been struggling to revive the famous pre-War marque and who now also owns Lotus. In August Artioli fired Adrian Palmer, whom Mansfield replaced, and his finance director Andrew Tempest. Last week he issued a writ accusing them of trying to sell Lotus to the Korean car company Kia without telling him.

Artioli was one of many young Italians who watched the demise of Ettore Bugatti's company in the early Fifties with anguish. In 1987, after he had made a fortune selling Ferraris and Suzukis, Artioli bought the Bugatti name and assembled a team to design two supercars, the EB110 and EB112, which, it was hoped, would compete with other ultra-expensive models such as the Jaguar XJ220.

But by the time the pounds 300,000 EB110 was launched in 1992, the market for such cars had collapsed and only a few have been made (Michael Schumacher bought one and crashed it). Artioli, undaunted, bought Group Lotus the next year, believing he could integrate the two companies' engineering skills.

Lotus has done much better since then - the Elan went out of production in 1992, and its losses were absorbed by the company's previous owner, General Motors - but Bugatti's problems have piled up and creditors, including Giugaro, have demanded payment in Italian courts. A year ago Palmer and Tempest tried to organise a management buyout of Lotus to split it off from Bugatti. Artioli was furious, but since then he, too, has been looking for a saviour - either to buy Lotus or to inject funds into the whole company.

Lotus was almost sold this March to 21 Invest, an Italian finance company owned by the wealthy Benetton and Bonomi families. A member of 21 Invest's consortium was Kia - which Artioli did not, apparently, know. He also, allegedly, did not know that the deal would have given Kia an option to buy 21 Invest out after five years. When he found out he fired Palmer and Tempest, and issued the writ. They had already issued a compensation claim for their dismissal.

David Bowen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links