On our arrival we were introduced to our guide called Guy who took us all to a meeting room and gave us a brief history of Colin Chapman and Lotus. The Lotus site was originally an American Air force base left over from WW2. An interesting fact was James Stewart the actor in 1944 was USAF chief of staff based at Hethel Lotus took it over in 1966 using the old nissan huts before building a bigger and better facility. The old runways made an excellent test track.
Guy then took us to the original building where they now build the bodies for all their range, the Elise Exige and Evora. After explaining the process of making the Grp bodies we then went to the modern building which was enormous. They have 3 assembly lines one for each model. I was surprised they weren’t any robots used and all cars are built by hand. They produce 2000 cars a year which Phil worked out that’s 6 cars a day.
We then drove to the Lotus Heritage site which is now located in a new building down the road. Here they restore the Lotus racing cars after dropping out of F1 racing in 1994. We were first taken to the workshops where they were restoring about 20 cars. From very early 1950s cars up to a 1980s car. These are privately owned cars worth a fortune.
We then went upstairs to see about 60 F1 cars from the original Type 12 of 1958 up to the Type 102 of 1990. Guy went into great detail of every model and who drove them. You may remember Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Mario Andretti to name a few. Colin Chapman was a clever engineer and led the way with innovations. We were amazed at Guy’s knowledge, after 2 hours I think we had learned everything about Lotus racing history.
Thanks to everyone who attended,