If you look closely at the badge on the nose of Lotus Cars, you’ll see the letters A-C-B-C.
In more than a few ways, those initials are Lotus.
The philosophies of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, the Englishman who started Lotus Cars in 1952, are what make them great. Noted for producing lightweight cars with exceptional handling abilities, Chapman is quoted as having said, "Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere".
Thus new Lotus cars have generally touted minimal weight over maximum power.
For example, the 1957 Lotus Elite was the first road car to use a fiberglass monocoque. In other words, all of the moving parts were fitted directly to the body of the car, which, in turn was constructed of fiberglass. This first of the new Lotus models intended specifically for the road was in production until 1963.
Lotus followed the Elite with the Elan. Offered in coupe and convertible forms, the original Elan ran from 1962 to 1975. The Elan is noted for being the first of the new Lotus cars to use a steel backbone chassis with a fiberglass body. This improved the rigidity of the platform, while still garnering weight savings over traditionally configured cars.
The Lotus Europa, one of the most iconic of the early Lotus road cars was introduced in 1966. The Lotus Europa was actually developed from prototype drawings of the car that eventually became the Ford GT40. The Europa ran until 1975.
The new Lotus cars capturing perhaps the most mainstream attention were the mid-engine exotic Lotus Esprit models. Known as the “submarine car” from the James Bond movies, the Esprit was also the first of the new Lotus cars to be marketed head to head with Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini road cars.
By the time the 1980s rolled in, Lotus was in financial trouble and had to take on a partner with deeper pockets. General Motors bought Lotus in 1986, held on to it until 1993, and flipped it to the investment group then in control of Bugatti. That group held on to the company until 1996, before selling out to Malaysian interests.
Fortunately, Lotus had been using the money from its investors very well during that period—introducing the new Lotus Elise models in 1996. Getting solidly back to the lighter is better philosophies of Chapman; the Elise proved to be a good seller for the company and paved the way to its current lineup of exotic sporting automobiles.