When it was launched in 1996, the Lotus Elise heralded a new era for the British car maker. Over the years, it's received a few facelifts, new engines and a few updates. Lotus announced in 2021 it intended to end production of the Elise but the story doesn’t end there.
Managing Director, Matt Windle, confirmed this week Lotus would be willing to sell the tooling needed to produce the Elise to a third party. Hmmmmm…
The idea, of course, is not new. Lotus sold off the tooling and rights to, the classic Lotus Seven, to British company Caterham in the 70’s. Customers can still buy a version to this day. But Caterham is no longer British. It was recently purchased by Japanese business, VT Holdings, they remain tight lipped about the possibility of adding the Elise to their Caterham stable.
According to sources we’ve seen, another possible buyer, is newly revived British coachbuilder Radford Motors. Co-founded by ex-F1 driver Jenson Button, Radford currently focuses on Mini restorations. However, it did announce earlier this week a collaboration with Lotus to build a classic retro-inspired sports car based on the Lotus Type 62 of the late Sixties. Just coincidence?
"We did deliberate around [killing the Elise] for a long time," Windle told Automotive News Europe. "The truth is that the whole of the manufacturing facility at Hethel is being transformed into an automated process. We just did not have the room to produce the Elise."
What do we think? Well, the first thing is if you love British sports cars and are stonkingly wealthy, now might be a good time to have a chat with Lotus and save the British brand and be a hero at the same time. We feel this decision to kill a massively popular product by Lotus is the beginning of the end. They will now go high end, out of reach to mortals like us and they’ll go electric, they’ve said as much. That means, in our opinion this signals the end of another wonderful classic British sports car. However, you may think differently?
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