Team Lotus have bought small British sports car manufacturer Caterham, as was widely predicted to happen by those in the know. It appears that Tony Fernandes is intent on taking the Lotus brand right back to his roots, while the owners of Group Lotus harbour ambitions to take on Ferrari as producers of £100,000 luxury coupes. It’s another part of the saga between the two parties, a story that I’m far to ill-informed about to ruminate on. Suffice to say that I’ve always loved Lotus for what it is, so I know where my lottery money would be spent if ever I bought a winning ticket. As much as I love the original, I certainly wouldn’t part with £40,000 of my imaginary cash on the forthcoming Elise replacement, I’ll be writing a cheque to Caterham instead.
The irony of the modern incarnation of Team Lotus buying a company based around one of the purest and simplest of Colin Chapman’s many moments of genius is not lost, but this is clearly much more than a nostalgia trip. With the Lotus case currently making more money for the lawyers than it is for either of the warring companies instructing them, at least this appears to be good news for a stalwart of British sports cars. If Tony Fernandes could buy an airline for less change than I have in my pocket and turn it into a profitable and expanding business then I’m sure he’ll do a good job with Caterham. If the suits at Proton continue to make a mess of Group Lotus then I’m sure Tony will step into the breach, something that may have been his plan all along. If the seemingly impossibly ambitious plans for Lotus do succeed then at least enthusiasts can rest easy that somebody, somewhere will continue to make cars true to the original Lotus lightweight, low-cost principles.