After a healthy drought between Bahar-and-Lotus divorce articles, we have now started a new streak for this dysfunctional divorce. We recently learned that Lotus is auctioning off Bahar’s custom 2002 Lotus Esprit and it may be a fund-raising effort for their upcoming legal battle with its former CEO.
You guessed it. It is now official that Bahar has filed a high-court suit against Lotus for wrongful termination. The suit is reported to be worth ₤6.7 million and is against both Lotus and DRB-Hicom, with the former being the first defendant and the latter being the second in the case.
According to a report from DRB-Hicom, it opposed Bahar’s accusations and is prepared to defend them vigorously. In addition, DRB-Hicom has filed a counter-suit against Bahar, likely for misuse of corporate funds, as he was renting a house on Lotus’s dime, which isn’t a big deal, but dumped tons of money on having the rental property refurbished, using Lotus funds, allegedly.
In a statement, DRB-Hicom stated "The exact quantum of costs arising from the claim cannot be determined at this point in time... We will make the requisite announcements when appropriate." That sounds like corporate-ese for “we are trying to dig up every last penny that Bahar used without permission and add it up to really make him look bad.”
For now, this is all the news we have on this front, but we’ll keep you up to date on this lawsuit as it progresses.
It’s two days short of a month since we last mentioned Dany Bahar and Lotus in the same sentence, but we knew the silence couldn’t go on forever. While we await the outcome of the potential wrongful-termination lawsuit Bahar is allegedly planning, Lotus continues to rid itself of any signs of Bahar.
This de-Bahar-ing of Lotus began with the scrapping of all but one of his concept cars, much to the joy of Lotus purists, and has now moved into an almost personal attack. Lotus is now auctioning off Bahar’s company car, which so happens to be a fully restored and customized 2002 Esprit V8.
It features a custom pearlescent white paint job, Nova OZ wheels, center-exit exhaust, custom rounded taillights, and a Final Edition Esprit rear wing. The interior is bespoke too, featuring leather and SuedeTex throughout.
The front brakes feature 4-piston AP Racing calipers, while the rear brakes are Brembo-built. The engine and transmission were both rebuilt less than 1,000 miles ago, despite only having 36,000 miles on them to begin with. On top of the Sport350 “High Boost” ECM mod, we suspect that both the engine and transmission have some internal modifications, so it likely punches out much more than the 350 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque it did from the factory.
This entire restoration was commissioned by Bahar and carried out in a Lotus factory, likely on Lotus’ dime – surprise, surprise. Is it any wonder why the company is in such a financial hell right now?
Anyways, in an effort to raise a little capital, Lotus is now auctioning off this rig to the highest bidder via its UK dealerships. NADA lists a high-retail value of $60,300 on the 2002 Esprit, but we assume this one will fetch closer to the $80,000 range with all of its custom work.
We’ll keep you updated on the final auction results.
There have been rumors circulating that Volkswagen AG is interested in Proton, which includes the Lotus debacle, as either minority owners or a controlling stake. But if VW’s labor union officials have any say, this will not take place. Bend Osterloh let the Handelsblatt know that the labor union will not support VW acquiring Proton, Lotus, or any other brand.
Osterloh was quoted saying “We already have 12 brands and we first have to stabilize the group.” Osterloh also agrees that VW needs to increase its presence in Southwest Asia, but the labor union still won’t support VW in this potential purchase.
Osterloh holds a seat on the supervisory board, so he has a little pull in the company, but not that much pull. VW is looking to overtake GM as the world’s largest auto manufacturer by 2018 and we doubt a puny labor union will stop VW. Even the taxman couldn’t put the brakes on VW’s expansion when it purchased, err, restructured Porsche.
We are pretty sure that VW will own at least a portion of Proton before the end of 2013, it just has to figure out how to let its labor union know that it can either come along for the ride or step aside. This should be a pretty interesting one, as we all know exactly how well auto unions and automakers play together, so we may be in for a pretty big power struggle.
When it comes to small sports cars, very few in the business make it as good as Lotus. Make no mistake, despite their recent bad press, Lotus still knows what it takes to build these babies, and more importantly, race-spec versions of these aforementioned babies.
Take for example their latest toy, the Exige V6 Cup. Making their debuts at the Lotus Festival in Brands Hatch in the UK, the Exige V6 Cup has been touted as the most sinister version of the Exige line. Here’s the best part, the V6 Cup comes in two specs: Track Day and Full-On Competition Spec.
In order to make it about as race-spec as can be, Lotus fitted the Exige V6 with just about every race goodie they could get their hands on. Among the new features include the company’s exclusive Lotus Dynamic Performance Management system, a system that allows the driver to switch between a number of driving modes, including Race, Sport and Touring. From there, the car also gets a new rear diffuser and wing, an aero-optimized front splitter, a multi-adjustable suspension system, a removable steering wheel, HANS-compliant race seats, a choice of 4- or 6-point race harnesses, a racing roll cage, and a fire extinguisher that’s FIA-compliant.
Under its hood, the Exige V6 Cup is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 346 horsepower with a curb weight of 1,080 kg/2,381 lbs, a 0-62 mph of just 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of 170 mph.
Lotus announced that the Exige V6 Cup will be produced by the end of the year with a delivery time by March next year. It will an initial schedule of 20 models.
It is not a new concept that Caterham remains one of the most popular boutique sports cars in all of Europe, despite the fact that it only builds about 500 models each year. It is also not a shocker to know that England’s former boutique powerhouse, Lotus, has taken a huge hit in recent years, but still has an international presence.
Caterham’s flagship car, the Seven, is built with extreme care to keep the power-to-wight ratio as high as possible. This has worked so far, but Caterham needs to expand into other places, like the U.S., which only sees about 50 Caterham Sevens per year. Caterham is careful, though, and that’s what has made it the success it is today, so expansion needs to be carefully plotted out.
One thing that could help Caterham expand is to join forces with a like-minded car company to produce high-quality, lightweight sports cars that the American market would enjoy. One possibility is Lotus, which is sinking fast, but already offers up its lightweight bodies and chassis to other companies, like Hennessey, to build into lightweight monsters, so why not Caterham?
Combining the two could result in sweet profits for both, as Lotus could provide its lightweight chassis technology and its recognized name, and Caterham could provide its high-revving performance engine technology. With the Lotus name and body, and Caterham technology heading to the U.S., Caterham gains a stronger foothold in the U.S. and Lotus gets a chance to regain its presence in the states, all while sharing the cost and profits.
The Lotus Elite was Lotus’s first ever GT car and was what really launched Lotus into the forefront of racing. When it debuted in 1958, no one had seen anything like it. The Elite boasted a paltry curb weight, thanks to its unit-body construction that was 100 percent fiberglass, instead of the more typical fiberglass body-on-steel frame construction.
The powerplant was manufactured for Lotus by Coventry Climax, and varied in power, depending on the Elite’s options. This 1,216 cc engine pumped out between 75 and 105 horsepower, and threw power to the rear wheels via an MG-built 4-speed early on or a 4-speed ZF trans in their later years. That may not seem like much by today’s standard, but for a 4-cylinder of the late-50s and early-60s, that was amazing. Plus its lightweight body created a weight ratio ranging from about 10 pounds per horsepower to 20 pounds per horsepower.
The Elite’s body was a thing of beauty, as it looked very quirky, but boasted a 0.29 drag coefficient, which is better than even the 2002 Acura NSX with its 0.30. Its long nose and rounded cabin just added the the car’s character, but its backside just didn’t fit in with the rest of the car.
Regardless of the super-skinny wire wheels and tires, the Elite Series II actually handled pretty well. It can attribute this to its 4-wheel independent suspension, which was unheard of at the time, with dual wishbones upfront and Chapman struts on the rear. These are similar to MacPherson struts in construction, except that they use a drive shaft and light radius rod in place of a lower control arm.
Also revolutionary for the era was its use of 4-wheel disc brakes and inboard brakes on the rear. These inboard brakes help reduce the vehicle’s unsprung weight, keeping the spring and strut movement more stable.
Click past the jump to read about the Elite Series II’s pricing.
When the Emerg-E popped onto the scene during the Geneva Auto Show, us automotive folk were amazed at the technology and potential behind this car. We were also amazed to see a rather familiar platform looking back at us, as the Emerg-E is built on the same platform as the Lotus Evora.
Lotus is no stranger to lending out its platforms and bodies for various performance applications (see: Hennessey Venom GT), but it has never gotten into the actual building phase of these cars. Infiniti has yet to confirm that the Emerg-E for production, but its sister company, Renault, has already announced that the Alpine will go into production, in one form or another.
Since Renault has also made it clear that the Alpine will not be much like its concept and the Emerg-E is already based on a Lotus concept, why not save a little scratch and build both models on the same platform? There is really no reason not to and there is absolutely no way that Lotus would refuse this deal, as it sorely needs a little extra money these days.
Sure, the production level may be low and the income may be limited, but it would at least help put Lotus back into the sports car conversation. In addition to getting its foot back into the sports car door, with the Evora and Emerg-E being range-extended electric vehicles, this could carve Lotus a real nice and potentially profitable niche.
We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, but the connection is already there, it just needs a little push in the right direction.
The new Lotus Exige S made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but the first unit has just left the assembly line today. With that, Lotus has also promised that the first customers will experience this exciting new Lotus very soon.
The new Exige S is powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine that delivers a total of 345 HP. The sports coupe will go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 170 mph. Unfortunately, US customers will only be able to take advantage of the track version of the Exige S.
"We are very proud of the Exige S. It marks the first step towards consolidating and then growing the company. I know that customers have been eagerly waiting for this car, and I assure them that it will be worth the wait. We wanted to be sure that we had a product that was absolutely ready before launching it. We are confident that the right time for the Exige S is now," said Lotus Chief Operating Officer, Aslam Farikullah.
DRB-Hicom and Lotus have officially shut down the five-year plan that Dany Bahar placed the compact sports car company on shortly before he was canned. In fact, DRB-Hicom flat out called the plan unrealistic and we agree. Now with Lotus hanging around with no real future in sight, could DRB-Hicom be ready to offload Proton and Lotus altogether?
If it is ready to cut the money pits named Proton and Lotus loose, there is a suitor ready and waiting, according to a report by Reuters. Volkswagen, the recent PAC-Man of the automotive world, tried once to snatch up Proton, but failed, and now it looks as if it is ready to try again for at least partial control.
Ideally, for VW, DRB would let go of controlling stake in both companies and sell them to VW on the cheap, so that the magical Volkswagen wand can heal Lotus and Proton, much like it has with Audi. The connection is already there, as VW uses a DRB-Hicom facility to manufacture the Passat, so starting up the conversation of a buyout is as easy as pressing a speed-dial button on a cellphone.
Volkswagen, of course, isn’t saying a word about all of this and DRB-Hicom has been insisting that it is not selling Lotus or Proton. As we all know, car manufacturers will deny any type of news about selling companies or merging until they absolutely cannot deny it anymore, so we take all of this denying with a great big grain of Sodium Chloride.
We’ll keep you updated if anything else comes up on this front.
When Lotus chose to pull out of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the same show that the struggling car company released five new concepts at two years ago, we had a sneaking suspicion that this was the calm before the model-trimming storm. It looks as if our suspicions were true, as according to reports, Lotus has cut out all of Bahar’s brainchildren, with a possible exception being the revamped Espirit.
As we always say, sports car lovers are a fickle bunch. They know what they like and do not deal well with changes. Ferrari and Lamborghini lovers want fat sports cars with even fatter engines, whereas Lotus lovers want svelte and nimble machines that they can toss around at will. The models that Lotus has axed were very fat, by Lotus standard, and were not warmly received by enthusiasts.
Also scrapped in the process was the crazy notion that Lotus would produce its own engines for these new models. If the consistent lapping of Lotus-powered vehicles in INDYCAR isn’t enough of a deterrent for Lotus building their own engines, the sheer cost of the project is.
This is all clearly a cost-controlling measure by DRB-Hicom and Lotus to try and save the failing company, but it does have a bit of the undercoating of a jab to Bahar’s ribs. Regardless of the possible shot at Bahar’s ego, this is just one of the many necessary evils that Lotus has to go through to get back to being a profitable business.
Another necessary evil is the fact that Lotus will have to lay off 50 contractors hired to work on these new projects, which were part of Bahar’s “Five-Year Plan.”
Lotus and DRB-Hicom have submitted a new business plan to their creditors in hopes of getting some leeway in their debts and maybe freeing up some loan money to help inject some life into Lotus. We certainly hope to see Lotus back near the top of the boutique automaker list and we’ll keep a keen eye on this situation with many more updates likely coming your way.