Have you ever wondered how on earth you maintain a classic Formula One car? Just what it might cost? Well, if the car you own happens to be a Lotus, there's one place that will happily look after it - and that's the team who ran it in the first place.
Lotus Cars has been a public company since the 1960s, but the racing arm - Team Lotus - has always been privately owned by the Chapman family. From 1958 - 1982 they were run directly by Lotus founder Colin Chapman. After his untimely death the family continued to run the team, eventually selling the rights in 1990. In 1994 Team Lotus stopped becoming an active Formula One team.
Renault V6 Turbo unit from the fearsome 1.5L era
Chapman had never been very sentimental about his cars and consequently hadn't kept many of his own creations, but his family persuaded him to keep around 25 vehicles from his later period (when the company wasn't so hand-to-mouth). These all needed work to keep them in good condition. To do so required a garage, full of people. Experienced people. In order to raise funds, Classic Team Lotus was born and offered the possibility of restoration and maintenance to any owner of a racing Lotus. In fact, they are unique in having not just a large stash of original spares, but also all of the original drawings. So should any parts supply run out, they can easily create them to the correct specification.
The loud end of Jim Clark's Type 25
The project was a roaring success and now the small band of dedicated engineers and staff travel the world keeping clients vehicles in top condition. The Formula One cars have their own series - the Masters. An FIA approved championship, the winner is handed his trophy at the same dinner as the current F1 world champion. As Lotus cars were highly competitive for most of their career, having a Lotus now puts you in with an excellent chance of being at the pointy end.
I will be keeping in contact with the team throughout the next year and bringing you all of the news on their restoration projects and their race results. I'll also be taking pictures whenever I pass by of the fabulous machinery they have in the shop. If you want to see more, see the introductory video I created here: