Lotus Cars has been at the forefront of racing technology and automotive design and technology since 1948. Much like Ferrari, Lotus was a company run by a racing-mad genius, in the case of the British marquee, Colin Chapman. His philosophy was one of building the lightest and most efficient cars possible, sometimes at the expense of reliability.
A complete historical retrospective of the history of this fabled automaker is featured in a new exhibitoin, Lotus: The Art of Lightness, at the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Chapman’s designs resulted in an amazingly diverse record of racing success: seven Formula 1 world titles, multiple victories at Le Mans, winning the the Indy 500, success in saloon car racing, and even the World Rally Championship.
Chapman’s design philosophy of simple, light weight cars, basically building cars that were designed to last only as long as necessary to win races, also was incorporated into Lotus road cars. The result was a continuous series of iconic sports cars including the Seven, Elite, Elan, Esprit, Elise and Evora.
It seems that the automotive world has finally woken up to the idea that horsepower makes you fast in the straights, but light weight makes you faster everywhere – and more fuel efficient to boot.
We spoke with AACA museum’s executive director Mark Lizewskie about the show and its fit with the Antique Automobile Club of America.
“We are trying to dispel the idea that the AACA is just about Ford Model As and ’57 Chevys,” Lizewskie said. “Lotus has always been able to do fantastic things despite their small size as a company. They are the automotive equivalent of the Poison Arrow frog, a tiny little thing that can knock you down.
“That fact that this small company has had so much success is astounding and deserves to be remembered in automotive history.”
Some of the cars on display include:
- 1956 Mark VI –
- 1958 Lotus Eleven (Series II)
- 1959 Elite (Type 14)
- 1959 Type 18
- 1962 Type 22
- 1962 Seven S2
- Elan S1 (Type 26)
- 1966 Lotus Cortina (Type 28)
- 1971 Type 69
- 1978 Type 79 Championship winning Formula 1
- 1979 Esprit S2 (World Championship Commemorative Edition)
- 1984 Type 95T
Lotus: The Art of Lightness is on display at the AACA Museum, located at 161 Museum Drive in Hershey, Pennsylvanian and is open from 9:00 a.m. t0 5:00 p.m., with the last admission at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults.
For more information, visit the exhibition website.