Chances are you’ll never guess who this person is.
It’s been 22 years since Elisa Artioli has paid a visit to Lotus headquarters in Hethel, England, which is quite a long time considering her grandfather once owned the company. Romano Artioli was an Italian businessman who bought Lotus from General Motors back in 1993. He previously owned Bugatti from 1987 till 1995 before it was revived from near death by current owner Volkswagen. Artioli also later sold Lotus to Proton in 1996. But before that happened, Lotus launched the Elise under his leadership, and it is the Elise that is still in production today.
And yes, Artioli named the car for his granddaughter, which was quite convenient given that Lotus already had a history of naming its cars beginning with the letter E (Esprit, Europa, Elan, etc.) Although it’s been regularly updated and improved over the years, the Elise has been extremely successful for Lotus. It even spawned the Exige coupe. So what did Ms. Artioli do when she arrived at Hethel for a day? Simple, she was reunited with the second Elise ever built, which was also the first example to roll off the production line. It’s also the same car she was photographed with back in 1996 as a young child.
She was also present for the Elise’s official launch ceremony the year prior. Along with the 2018 reunion, Artioli had some Hethel test track time at the wheel of an Exige Sport 410 and an Evora GT410 Sport. Today, Lotus is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, who bought it from Malaysia’s Proton last year. Lotus has had a series of owners over the years following the death of founder Colin Chapman, but only Proton was able to bring some financial stability. Geely promised to invest heavily in the company known not only for its lightweight sports cars but also for their outstanding handling capabilities both on and off track.