Classic Team Lotus accelerates towards new development

Some of the classic cars being worked on in the workshops. Signwriter Paul Banham working on paintwo

Some of the classic cars being worked on in the workshops. Signwriter Paul Banham working on paintwork. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

In a concrete-clad building on a former Second World War air base, historic Formula One racing cars continue to be restored in the original Lotus workshops set up by Colin Chapman in Hethel.

And with demand growing for its bespoke service, Classic Team Lotus is set to expand after receiving the green light from planners for a new workshop.

The move will see the firm relocate from its current base on Potash Lane to a purpose-built workshop next door.

The firm, which posted a turnover of almost £1m in 2015, aims to build and move into the new facility later this year – increasing its workshop space from 6,000ft to more than 10,000ft.

Since its inception in 1994, Classic Team Lotus has grown to 14 full-time employees with two apprentices and a six-car race transporter.

Recently finding itself turning away customers, the firm, which is currently able to house up to 14 cars at any one time, estimates the move will increase capacity by 10 to 15pc.

Clive Chapman, son of Colin Chapman and managing director of Classic Team Lotus, said: 'It's gradually been getting bigger and bigger.

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'One of the reasons we have become more popular is because we restore the cars back to what they were like when they were made.

'The move is really exciting. Most importantly, the new workshop will provide a much better working environment for the existing staff, in terms of more space and a better layout, which will be especially helpful at the very busy times.

'In turn, this should enable us to accommodate more personnel which will enable us to grow a little.'

The team provides a comprehensive Historic Motorsport service to restore, maintain and operate historic Team Lotus racing cars owned by customers worldwide – including in America, Australia, Greece and Japan.

Last year, Classic Team Lotus took part in 25 events racing 20 different cars – with each car boasting its own dedicated mechanic.

Mr Chapman, 53, said: 'We started with one car. It's been a slow burn but it has grown organically.

'The new workshop represents, after 22 years, a small group of people working really hard.

'It will be the most tangible representation of what we have achieved.'

Mr Chapman said the rise in demand was down to the significant growth of historic motorsports.

'The fact that historic motorsports are so popular has led to many of the cars being saved and then preserved and restored,' he said.

'For us it's about reliability and safety, if we get a win now and again it's a bonus.'

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