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The company was formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by engineer Colin Chapman, a graduate of University College, London, in 1952. The first factory was in old stables behind the Railway Hotel in Hornsey. Team Lotus was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994. The company moved to a purpose built factory at Cheshunt in 1959 and since 1966 the company has occupied a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Wymondham. This site is the former RAF Hethel base and the test track uses sections of the old runway.
Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982, at the age of 54, having begun life an inn-keeper's son and ended a multi-millionaire industrialist in post-war Britain. The carmaker built tens of thousands of successful racing and road cars and won the Formula One World Championship seven times. At the time of his death he was linked with the DeLorean scandal over the use of government subsidies for the production of the De Lorean DMC-12 for which Lotus had designed the chassis.
In 1986 the company was bought by General Motors. On August 27, 1993, GM sold the company, for £30 million, to A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, a company controlled by Italian businessman Romano Artioli, who also owned Bugatti Automobili SpA. In 1996 a majority share in Lotus was sold to Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), a Malaysian car company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
The company also acts as an engineering consultancy, providing engineering development - particularly of suspension - for other car manufacturers. The lesser known Powertrain department is responsible for the design and development of the 4 cylinder engine found in many of GM's Vauxhall, Opel, Saab, and possibly some Saturn cars. It should however be noted that the current Lotus Elise and Exige models use the 1.8L VVTL-i I4 from Toyota's late Celica GT-S and the Matrix XRS.
The company is organized as Group Lotus, which is divided into Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering. Contrary to some rumours, there are no plans to create a Formula One Team. This is more likely to be due to the massive financial input required over and above any of the company's wishes.
Mr. Michael J Kimberley ("Mike"), took over as Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Company and its Group from May 2006. Mike currently chairs the Executive Committee of Lotus Group International Limited ("LGIL") established in February 2006, with Syed Zainal Abidin (Managing Director of Proton Holdings Berhad) and Badrul Feisal (non-executive director of Proton Holdings Berhad). LGIL is the holding company of Lotus Group Plc.
Check out the Lotus wallpapers and Lotus Pictures (pics) collection below: