Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus’s mantra “Simplify, then add lightness” resulted in several Formula One World Championships and the development of their road cars followed the same philosophy. Following Colin Chapman’s death in 1982, the Lotus product range had not featured a fundamentally new car and the Lotus Elise was the first new model for Lotus since the early 1980’s
The Lotus Elise, launched in 1996 was designed by Julian Thompson and named after the granddaughter of Romano Artioli, Elisa Artioli, chairman of Lotus and Bugatti at the time. It was a lightweight, mid-engine, 2-seater sportscar powered by the naturally aspirated 1.8l Rover K series engine. It featured a lightweight fiberglass body mounted to a rigid bonded extruded aluminum chassis and weighed only 725kg.
New crash safety regulations prompted the development of the Lotus Elise Series 2, introduced in 2000. These cars featured facelifted styling and a new ECU. General Motors shared the cost of development required by these regulations in return for Lotus producing Opel and Vauxhall badged and GM powered versions.