(Reading time: 4 - 8 minutes)
- Published: Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:08
This British car company adopted a numbering system for all its car however this system wasn't consecutive, it started with 1 and ended at 119, each model produced was given a number to distinguish it, regardless of whether it was a Lotus production car or just a soapbox model. This guide concentrates on the cars that mad a signicant change in the owners history.
The first design was based roughly on a Austin 7 saloon 1930's model in 1948. It was built with thin aluminium bonded to plywood, the university student also tweaked the shocks and engine, the success of this motorcar drove Colin Chapman to continue with car design, all his cars would now be built with basic concept, bodypanels that would substantially strengthen the car however not add any excess weight. This whole philosophy was applied to all Colin's cars for the complete Lotus history.
A Trials car suitable for circuit built in 1942, also participated in track events e.g. Silverstone where Colin won in his class in the car.
A single seated sportscar built as a 750 Racer.
The Lotus Seven began as an uprated version of the successful Mark 6 (which was the first production sports car for the British car manufactuers. This car was pushed as a kit car enabling many sports car lovers to own a dual-purpose road/racing sports car at a reasonable price. Four versions were manufactured up until 1973, the rights to this car were sold to Caterham who still utilise the cars design.
The Elite debuted in 1957 at the Earls Court Motor Show this was the first closed passenger car. It is notorious for its victories in its class at LeMans 24 hour race, production ended in 1962.
The 18 built from 1960 to 1962, the first racing car to utilise a mid-engine setup, however the auto was substanitally less powerful car from its Ferraricompetitiors, however it did have the capabilities to out handle them.
(1962 to 1964) - A really popular model built between 1962 and 1964 based on the Type 19 shocks. Initially, it was powered by a Ford 1100cc engine and later the Lotus engineered Twin Cam. This model had its first debut to the world at the Nürburgring in Germany.
Elan (1962 - 1973)
A real road car, available as a roadster and came with an optional hardtop, then converted into a coupe version. This model was manufactured till 1974, this car became the most produced Lotus ever.
Elan Plus Two (1967 - 1973)
An enlarged backbone chassis, a twin cam engine, disc brakes, independent suspension; and was able to offer two jump seats and a roomier cabin. This was Lotus's first "family" car. The Plus 2 retained all of the sporty performance of the standard version but, added practicality.
This latest incarnation of the model was powered by a 1588cc twin cam 16 valve turbo-charged engine producing 162 bhp, propelling it from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds and to a top speed of 137 mph. The chassis is a hybrid of the Lotus' classic steel backbone mated with advanced composites to create one the stiffest cars in the world.
A little documented 1965 model, which of only three were made. The bodywork of the 40 was striking with 2 stack exhausts angled and fitted in the rear deck. The car was a real beast powered by a healthy Ford 5.3 litre V8, 410 bhp. It was the fastest Lotus racing car built.
Europa (Type 46)
(1966 - 1975) The first a two door non-track, mid-priced, mid-engine GT Coupe car produced, constructed using a steel backbone and fibreglass moulded shell, the Europa was the first mass produced mid engined road car built to compete in Henry Ford II's ' Build a Lemans racing car'. All in all, 9,300 Europas were manufactured.
1971 brought Lotus Clan Crusader a sports two-seater made from fibre glass, it ran the infamous Rootes Imp Sport engine. It was the predesessor of the Europa.
However Colin Chapman didn't accept the designers plans, in contest the engineers and designers formed their own company aided by development grants through the government. Over 350 Crusader's were built by the newly formed Clan Motor Company.
The new Lotus Elite was a four seater powered by a 907 aluminium twin cam 4 valve engine. This was the first four valve production engine to be sold on the open market. The Eclat manufactured from 1975 - 1982, was a fastback version of the new Elite.
The Esprit first debuted in 1974 at the studio of Giugiaro Design, The car was an instant hit with its styling and powerful engine.
The Emotion was developed in 1991, Bertone had the idea of designing a new shell for the aging Esprit, the design was produced by General Motors.
While mainly specialising in scooters, the Brazilian company Emme joined Lotus in 1997 to produce a sedan in 1997, based on the existing Emme 420 and 420T. The turbocharged 16-valve engine produced over 121 hp per litre and 354 Newton metres of torque, achieving 0-60 mph in 4.9 sec, 0-100 mph in 11.9 sec, and with a top speed 171mph. Only between 12-15 were ever built.
Elise (Type 111)
The Lotus Elise was designed and manufctured from 1996 till the present day. The car is conceived as a low production model, the British sportscar has shattered sales expectations and returned Lotus to the forefront of sportscar production. This incredible car has also spawned some very interesting limited editions, including the 340R, the Exige coupe, and several motorsport derivatives.
Lotus Collaboration Cortina
The English division approached Lotus to build 1000 special Cortina GT'srunning twin cam engines for Group 2 racing. This model was completely different to a standard Ford Cortina. it was capable of 105 mph, 0-60 in 9.9 sec, the cra was manufactured from 1963 to 1966. The Lotus Cortina is an extremely rare site today.
The 1980 Sunbeam Lotus, A version of the Lotus 907 engine was dropped into a Talbot Sunbeam shell with some other extras and instantly became a Rally winner. This model had lighting acceleration and appeared a real sheep in wolves clothing.
The Delorean Scandal
Colin Chapman in 1981 had the opportunity to become involved with his friend John DeLorean new project. The DeLorean sport is now famed globally, due its part in the "Back to the Future trilogy", however before this stardom the name was best known for its scandal. It started when John was given tens of millions to develop and manufacture his new sports car in an unemployment blackspot in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the area was located between the Catholic and Protestant communities.
John DeLorean financed Chapman to design an Esprit based design. The car when it was completed was underpowered, overpriced, and a poor quality car all round - DeLorean declared insolvency in January, however this wasn't his only problem, cocaine charges were also looming over him, however this was dropped.
In February, the UK government appointed receivers, October everything stopped production only 8,550 cars had been manufactured.
Colin Chapman the founder of Lotus died of a heart attack in 1982.
Fred Bushell, Lotus MD served a 3 yr sentence. The trial judge said that if Colin had stood court 'Chapman and De Lorean 10 year sentences would have been mandatory' for "an outrageous and massive fraud".
Lotus Carlton/Omega (1990)
Lotus engineered and manufactured a version of the Vauxhall Carlton and Opel Omega 4 door saloon with a gutsy 3.6 lire 24 valve twin turbo straight six engine, merged witha 6 speed gearbox from the Lotus developed Corvette ZR-1, this allowed the Lotus Carlton to max out at 170 mph and 0-60 in under 6 seconds.
(Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes)
- Published: Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:00
The Countach single handedly saved Lamborghini and it was also an Italian supercar. It was first launched at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, with the last one rolling out of the factory in 1990.
The Countach revolutionised the wedge-shaped lookl, adopted today by supercar manufacturers alike.
The name of this Super car meaning 'an exclamation of astonishment' is pronounced Koon-tash is from Piedmontese dialect, Italian. It received this name after Nuccio Bertone saw the prototype.
Even today this car still wins awards in 2004 the Countach was named the 3rd best sports car of 1970 and was 10th of the 1980's.
It was Marcello Gandini the Bertone studio designer who was the inspiration behind the Countach. He was seen as a rookie designer with a wreckless approach, no guides or idealistics, this approach gave Gandini waht he needed to radicalize auty design. The Lambo was made very low, it stands only 42.1" high & very wide, yet quite short. This unique design gained the label they were looking for, a desirable Italian supercar.
This car revolutionised 'scissors doors' later becoming known as gullwing doors, this pushed the car into the fashion arena, and it became an icon, however this design came at a cost you couldn't park it anywhere with a low roof or too close to another car.
The aerodynamics weren't as effective as first thought, but it was styling and power they were pioneering for which it achieved with its fast and cool look.
The cars skin was very similar to the aluminium used on aircraft, this was then placed over a tubular space frame, this meant for a strong yet light build quite expensive and basically racing car technology. However the Countach weighed only 1500kg due to it. The underbody of the car was fibreglass.
The running gear and engine
The legendary Lamborghini Countach ran a V12 engine long ways mounted in a mid-engined configuration with 6 Weber carburettors, with the exception of the 5000QV which featured Bosch K Jetronic fuel injection. The engine was fitted backwards to improve weight distribution. It's gearbox was fitted in front of the V12 , and the front also housed the drive shaft.
Initially the car came with a 4 litre Miura engine however this was upgraded to 5 litre with the exception of the Quattrovalvole model this was given a 5.2 litre engine with 4 valves per cylinder.
The Diablo put an end to the carburettor for Lamborghini.
The LP500 first appeared at 1971 Geneva Motor show in sunflower yellow, this prototype design wowed the audience and press alike.
The car actually was technological nightmare, it had the looks, but there was no practicality. The air ducts didn't cool the engine ,which meant additioanl scoops and an airbox had to be fitted. NACA air intakes were assisted in the overheating. The LP500 was a one off and manufactured from aluminium honeycomb sheeting, this was never used again. The car was used in a controlled crash test to aid of European crash approval, a real shame.
The next production car to follow was the 4 litre LP400 Countach it was delivered to its first owner in 1974. It had looks similar to the LP500 prototype, but looked more sinister.
The auto was fitted narrow tires, due toi that being the only tires available however this aided the car to reach high speed due to reduced friction. This particular model is seen as a fresh original car, simple, with smooth lines and no extras. The emblems on the back simply read "Lamborghini Countach". This was seen as the cleanest of all models.
The next car to be launched was the LP400S in 1978. The engine was modded slightly and the car was treated to Pirelli P7's, wider fibreglass wheel arches.
The V-shaped spoiler became an optional extra, however was highly recommended for high-speed stability, however this lost the supercar 10 mph. Most owners obviously feared fro their life and ordered the wing. This car was far better than its predecessors with better handling and looks incorporating smooth lines. 1982 saw the the engine uprated to a 5.0 Litre. and then again in 1985 to a 5.2 and the car was renamed the 5000QV.
A limited edition Countach model was released in 1988 to commemorate the 25th year anniversary, the car a 5000QV with a new look. The rear 'air boxes' were increased in size and restyled, the vents were moved from front to back. A new air dam, side skirts incorporating air intakes, restyled narrower rear lights were added. The chnages to the original concept didn't go down well, but the car ran better and the V12 stayed cooler.The Anniversary Countach stayed in production till the 1990's when the Diablo was released.
The Walter Wolf
The Wolf Countach still remain the rarest of the three cars which were the only ones ever made. 1975, Walter Wolf, a rich Canadian businessman who owned Wolf F1 Racing team bought an LP400, however he wasn't not impressed, he asked Dallara, Lamborghini's chief engineer and founder of Scuderia Italia 1990, to design a more higher-powered model. Dallara took up the challenge, the car was coded NO 1120148" and dubbed the 'The Walter Wolf special', it ran a countach engine but generated 447 hp @ 7900 rpm and 315 km/h Top speed (Approx) it came with the original additions, as well as new wheels, wider bumpers and arches.
The car was red, and cmae with black fenders. The first Walter Wolf Countach now resides in Japan, the second model was in blue, NO 1120202 and lives in Germany, the final version was a dark blue model, NO 1121210 Wolf owned this car, but eventually sold it to a undisclosed buyer.
- 2,042 Lamborghini Countach cars were built during the cars 16 years of production.
- 1 LP500 Prototype
- 157 LP400
- 237 LP400S
- 321 LP500S
- 676 LP5000QV
- 650 25th Limited edition Anniversary models