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Top 5: Moments in carmaker Lotus's eventful history

Who could forget when the Lotus Esprit crashed into the water in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me? Certainly not the general public – its resulting popularity kept the model in production until 2004.
Proton injected some much-needed investment into Lotus.
Proton injected some much-needed investment into Lotus.

The Lotus Seven

Lotus founder Colin Chapman has gone down in history as a genius when it comes to designing cars with world-class handling and possibly his greatest moment came in the form of the legendary Lotus Seven. Launched in 1957, it's still being made today by Caterham, which bought the rights to it back in 1973. It set the standard for how a sports car could behave on the road and track and even now the car gives thrills like nothing else. Light, basic, raw and extremely quick, it's a totally unique drive.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Cinema-goers in 1977 gasped when James Bond drove his Lotus Esprit off the end of a pier into the sea to escape machine-gun fire from an overhead chopper. But far from ending up on the Sardinian seabed, in a moment that no film since has topped, the Esprit simply transformed into a rocket-launching submarine. As a result, Lotus became a household name and the Esprit went on to live, in various guises, until 2004. The legend refuses to die and an all-new Esprit is now on the cards.

Formula One

It's impossible to overstate the importance of Lotus in motor racing and, while the name is making a comeback in today's F1 arena, its heyday was in 1963, when the company won its first Constructor's World Championship with Jim Clarke piloting a Lotus 25. A true innovator, Lotus pioneered the use of intelligent downforce and aerodynamics and invented active suspension. Ayrton Senna drove for the team, too, from 1985 to '87, and Lotus won a total of 79 Grands Prix before leaving the sport in 1994.

Proton ownership

Like so many low-volume sports car manufacturers, Lotus constantly suffered from financial turmoil, which meant the cars were under- developed and often unreliable. Loads of trouble, usually serious is what acronym fans said of Lotus. Chapman died in 1982 and Lotus lacked direction but GM bought it in 1986 and eventually Lotus was sold to Proton, whose investment enabled production of the Elise and Evora. Today, Lotus still makes the finest handling cars in the world.

2010 Paris Motor Show

Nobody was expecting this. After the departure of Mike Kimberley, new chief Dany Bahar announced at last year's Paris Motor Show that Lotus was to take on the likes of Porsche and Ferrari with an entire new range comprising five models by 2016. Understandably, he came in for a lot of flak but progress is being made and the company has been busy poaching quality control perfectionists from Porsche and others to help achieve these most ambitious of plans. Proton has reportedly invested Dh462 million too.


Updated: June 23, 2011 04:00 AM



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