Lotus confirmed at the beginning of 2021 it would end production of its storied Elise sports car, as well as its bigger sibling, the Exige, to make room for a new entry-level performance car called the Emira. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, managing director Matt Windle confirmed Lotus would be open to selling the tooling necessary to construct the Elise to a third party.
If that sort of thing sounds familiar, it should. Lotus sold off the tooling and rights to its first production sports car, the Seven, to British company Caterham in 1973. A version of the car, still called the Seven, is built and sold to this day. Caterham, which was recently purchased by Japanese importer VT Holdings, has yet to say whether they’d be interested in purchasing the Elise’s tooling as well. “I think they are just trying to sort out what their plans are going forward,” Windle told Automotive News Europe.
Another possible buyer, according to Automotive News Europe, is British coachbuilder Radford Motors. The recently-revived company, co-founded by ex-F1 driver Jenson Button, currently specializes in Mini restorations. It announced on Twitter earlier this week a collaboration with Lotus to build a retro-inspired sports car inspired by the Lotus Type 62 of the late Sixties.
“We did deliberate around [killing the Elise] 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.”
If you’re a fan of the Elise, exceedingly wealthy, and have some contacts at Lotus, now might be the time to reach out if you want to keep the car alive. Who knows, maybe you can become the next Caterham. We’d be grateful.
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