From Colin Chapman to Ayrton Senna: A brief history of Lotus

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus. Picture: Archant Library

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Lotus Engineering was founded by engineers Colin Chapman and Colin Dare in 1952 and by 1958 an off-shoot Team Lotus had become active in Formula One racing.

In 1966 the business moved to the former RAF Hethel site, near Wymondham, and its Norfolk love affair began.

It became known for sports cars such as the Lotus Elan, Elise and Espirit.

In 1982 Colin Chapman died at the age of 54.

But by then financial troubles had set in and Lotus was being investigated by Inland Revenue in relation to a scandal involving the DeLorean Motor Company.


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Team Lotus won seven constructors' championships and six drivers' championships in its Formula One history and was home to legendary drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna.

In 1986 the group was bought by US car maker General Motors before becoming part of Bugatti owner Romano Artioli's empire.

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In 1996 Malaysian company Proton bought a majority share and listed Lotus on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

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