Lotus Asks Fans How To Celebrate Its Factory's 50th Birthday


Seems Lotus aficionados aren't fans of car-shaped cakes.

For many people, the big anniversary being promoted by Lotus this year will be Esprit-related: after all, 2016 marks the 40th year since the iconic British mid-engined sports car first went into production. However, that's not all that Lotus has to commemorate. On top of marking the 20th anniversary of the Lotus Elise, this year also sees Lotus' Hethel factory reach its vintage year. Given the factory itself is a hugely special asset of the company, Lotus saw it fit to let the firm's fans decide how best the Hethel plant's birthday should be celebrated.

The end result, though, probably isn't as exciting as you'd have initially expected. Lotus "letting the fans decide" amounted to choosing a specific color scheme for a commemorative limited edition Lotus Evora 400 model. Still, it at least gives us another reason to feature what is perhaps the most under-appreciated sports car on sale today, and this 'Lotus Evora 400 Blue & Orange Edition' does showcase the customization options that customers can specify through the 'Lotus Exclusive' program. Plus, we think the blue paintwork offset by the black alloy wheels and orange-and-white stripes work really well on the Lotus Evora 400.

As cool as this exclusive Evora is, though, the story behind the Hethel factory is far more interesting. It started out life (as with many other car plants and race tracks in the UK) as an air force base during the Second World War. In 1966, after viewing the potential of such an expansive piece of real estate, Lotus moved out of its old base in Cheshunt and set up shop in the air base's old technical centre and hangar bays. Perhaps most crucially, a test track was built on the old runways, which would later be used to hone the firm's fabled road and racing cars. Even today, with a recent repave and redesign, the Hethel test track remains one of the greatest places in the world to refine the ride quality and handling balance on a sports car.

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