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Handling by Lotus! Did you know these cars were engineered by Lotus?

19/04/2019
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Lotus is renowned as a British manufacturer of lightweight sports cars. However, what is less well known is their engineering arm- Lotus Engineering- which since its inception has spearheaded research into such areas as advanced powertrain design & validation, lightweight material research and ride and handling.

Through its engineering arm, Lotus has had an enormous, but low-key, impact upon the wider automotive industry. You may not realise it, but the likes of GM, Ford, Isuzu, Dodge and even Aston Martin have turned to Lotus for its engineering prowess.

Here we take a look at 5 cars that were in some way, shape or form influenced or engineered by Lotus…
In certain circles the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton has achieved cult status as the ultimate 'sleeper' car.
(Image via Wikipedia).

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton


In certain motoring circles the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton has achieved cult status. And you can see why. It’s the perfect example of a ‘sleeper’ (a sleeper car being defined as one that looks standard on the exterior, but has very high performance). 

Once Lotus had worked their magic upon the saloon, the Carlton was capable of achieving 177mph- more than a match for contemporary super cars of the period.  Not only was the Carlton’s engine capacity enlarged to 3615 cc, but twin Garrett T25 turbochargers were added to improve boost. Lotus also modified the car’s chassis, brakes and steering to create a vehicle which almost universally praised by the Automotive press. The performance of the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton was such that it become a favourite of criminals, who knew that the British Police at the time did not have any vehicles with comparable performance.
Ford's desire to develop a high-performance touring car led to their collaboration with Lotus on the Cortina.
(Image via Wikipedia).

Ford Lotus Cortina


From one automotive giant to another- this time Ford. Born out of Ford’s desire to develop a high-performance car to take part in Group 2 Touring Car racing, Walter Hayes of Ford UK approach Colin Chapman (Founder of Lotus) to see if 1,000 Ford Cortinas could be fitted with Lotus’ own engines (which themselves were largely based upon a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine). Colin Chapman duly accept and the iconic Ford Lotus Cortina was born. Whilst Lotus did all of the mechanical and cosmetic changes to the cars, Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina bodyshells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars. The car proved to be exceptionally popular and received rave reviews from the motoring press of the time, with one magazine describing the car as a ‘tin-top version of the Lotus 7’. Even today, the Ford Lotus Cortina remains a much sought-after car.
Thanks to Lotus' engineering expertise the Talbot Sunbeam won the World Rally Championship in 1981
(Image via Wikipedia).

Talbot Lotus Sunbeam


On the face of it, the Talbot Sunbeam resembled any other suburban run-around. Based upon the Hillman Avenger, the Sunbeam was a small supermini three-door hatchback that offered economic motoring for the average driver. However, in 1978 it was decided that there was a need to boost the image of the Sunbeam and create a ‘hot hatch’ version. And thus, Talbot turned to Lotus to conjure up a strict rally version of the car. The result was a Sunbeam 1.6 GLS, but fitted with stiffer suspension, a larger anti-roll bar and a larger transmission tunnel. The engine also received attention from Lotus, with capacity being increased to 2172 cc. The car was not only warmly received by the press and public, but went on to garner much success in the World Rally Championship with Talbot winning the manufacturer’s championship in 1981.
Following Lotus' acquisition by General Motors the company's expertise was deployed on several high-performance models.
(Image via Wikipedia).

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

In 1986 Lotus was acquired by General Motors, and the company’s engineering finesse was quickly being used to improve the performance of several GM models; perhaps the most notable of which was the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, which was intended to be the world’s fastest production car. Lotus more than met the challenge redesigning the engine to create the ‘LT5’, an aluminium block V-8 which featured four overhead camshafts and 32 valves. Lotus also designed a unique air management system for the engine to provide a wider power band by shutting off 8 of the 16 intake runners and fuel injectors when the engine was at part throttle, while still giving the ZR-1 375 hp when at wide open throttle. The result of this engineering was a car that was exceptionally quick for the period, being able to achieve 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, going on to 180+ mph.

When Vauxhall wanted to build a mid-engine two-seater sports car in early 2000s they turned to Lotus.
(Image via Wikipedia).

Vauxhall VX220 / Opel Speedster


When Vauxhall wanted to build a mid-engine two-seater sports car in the early 2000s, they once again turned to Lotus (as they had with their Carlton project in the early 1990s). Based on the Series 2 Elise chassis, the Opel Speedster was actually built at the Lotus Hethel factory in Norfolk with production beginning in March 2001. Despite being badged as a Vauxhall / Opel, the car embodied the very best elements of the Lotus philosophy, embracing innovative design solutions whilst remaining lightweight. The car featured bodywork made entirely of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), which made it a staggering 100kg lighter than the similar sized Toyota MR2. The car wasn’t shy in terms of propulsion either. The all-aluminium alloy 2.2 Z22SE engine produced 147 np making the Vauxhall /Opel more powerful than the Lotus Elise was at launch. Like many of the cars in which Lotus has had a hand, the Vauxhall VX220 / Opel Speedster was hailed as a great success by the motoring press and received several accolades including Top Gear’s Car of the Year Award in 2003.

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Handling by Lotus! Did you know these cars were engineered by Lotus? - Time to read 5 min
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