Lotus’s official 70th anniversary celebration played host to the largestever gathering of Lotus cars on September 29, with 1600 cars returning home to the firm’s Hethel base in Norfolk. An impressive 8000 Lotus owners and enthusiasts attended the sold-out event, plus another 8000 from all over the world joining online live streams to witness the proceedings.
Lotus road and competition cars of all ages were present, including a Lotus Mark IV, ’60s legends such as the original Elan and Elite, Lotus Cortinas, Eclats, Esprits, Lotus Carltons and just about everything else up to the present day Evora, Exige and Elise models.
Classic Team Lotus showcased some of the firm’s legendary Formula One cars with demonstration runs, highlights including the DFV-powered Lotus 49 designed by company founder Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe for the 1967 F1 season, the iconic 1966 Lotus 43 and the famed 1978 Lotus 79, which was the first F1 car to take full advantage of ground-effect aerodynamics. On hand with static displays of their own were 14 owners’ clubs, which had travelled from all over the world to join the celebrations. In addition, a secret concours competition took place with online influencer Sam Fane, otherwise known as Seen Through Glass. Sam judged all of the cars on site in secret, before choosing the rally Sunbeam Lotus of Guy Fréquelin and Jean Todt fame as his winner. The car was just one of an excellent line-up of these legendary homologation specials.
Joining the 8000 attendees on site was a range of Lotus legends, all with their own stories to tell on the live broadcast feed. Viewers saw famous Lotus alumni such as Mike Kimberley and Bob Dance, as well as Elisa Artioli, granddaughter to one-time company owner and the girl who inspired the Lotus Elise’s name. And as finishing flourish to a special day, 700 cars and their owners were part of the anniversary parade that will go down in history books as the largest parade of Lotus sports cars ever seen on the Hethel track.
Speaking at the event, Group Lotus Plc’s CEO, Feng Qingfeng said: “Today has been an amazing day of celebration. To have met so many Lotus owners and enthusiasts, and understand their passion for our brand is truly inspiring. We are committed to our home in Norfolk, and there’s no place better to gather and remember what Lotus stands for and what makes it so special as a leading automotive marque. To have so many of our cars return home has really made the day, and I’d like to thank everyone for their help and support, both now and in the future, as we grow and develop the business.”