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Discussion Starter #1
...it's still a bit rough around the edges, but this afternoon i updated wikipedia's lotus entries to incorporate a standard production car timeline, including race cars, road cars, related cars, concept cars, key figures, and group lotus links...

...i'll be the first to admit that my historical expertise is pretty novice-level, but the great thing about wikipedia is that anyone can improve it...i took a few minor liberties here and there to fit everything together (for example, omitting the mark X since it's basically the same car as the mark VIII and sold concurrently with the mark IX, and cutting short the final year of the elan +2 to show its transition over to the elite II), and i'm sure others have a far better grasp of the nuances of various model production timelines, so please - dive in and refine it!..

Lotus Cars

...the timeline collapses as a bar down at the bottom; all our eyes can help wikipedia's lotus database to continue maturing as a reference for everyone to share...
 

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...it's still a bit rough around the edges, but this afternoon i updated wikipedia's lotus entries to incorporate a standard production car timeline, including race cars, road cars, related cars, concept cars, key figures, and group lotus links...

...i'll be the first to admit that my historical expertise is pretty novice-level, but the great thing about wikipedia is that anyone can improve it...i took a few minor liberties here and there to fit everything together (for example, omitting the mark X since it's basically the same car as the mark VIII and sold concurrently with the mark IX, and cutting short the final year of the elan +2 to show its transition over to the elite II), and i'm sure others have a far better grasp of the nuances of various model production timelines, so please - dive in and refine it!..

Lotus Cars

...the timeline collapses as a bar down at the bottom; all our eyes can help wikipedia's lotus database to continue maturing as a reference for everyone to share...
Reference material is really only useful if all the facts are included, and not the submitter subjectively deciding what goes in and what stays out.

Chunky decided to create a car call a Mark X. He decided it was discrete enough to warrant its own Mark number. While it may indeed be, as the Wiki page describes, a more powerful VIII, if one is building a Lotus Cars timeline, it should be in there.
 

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Reference material is really only useful if all the facts are included, and not the submitter subjectively deciding what goes in and what stays out.

Chunky decided to create a car call a Mark X. He decided it was discrete enough to warrant its own Mark number. While it may indeed be, as the Wiki page describes, a more powerful VIII, if one is building a Lotus Cars timeline, it should be in there.
THe version of the list I am looking at includes the Mark X. I agree that more information is better than less, and I think the cars should be listed as Mark Roman NUmeral for 1thru 10 then Type from 12 on as Lotus listed them. TO clarify on the Mark X, it is in fact a more powerful VIII, but it would be more accurate to describe it as an VIII modified specifically to accept the Bristol 2L engine (as several Lotus customers specifically asked for it).
 

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THe version of the list I am looking at includes the Mark X. I agree that more information is better than less, and I think the cars should be listed as Mark Roman NUmeral for 1thru 10 then Type from 12 on as Lotus listed them. TO clarify on the Mark X, it is in fact a more powerful VIII, but it would be more accurate to describe it as an VIII modified specifically to accept the Bristol 2L engine (as several Lotus customers specifically asked for it).
Thanks for the clarification.

I too saw the X on the one list. The OP though is referring to a timeline link created and placed at the very bottom of the wiki page. Had to click a 'show' button to see it.
 

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Thanks for the clarification.

I too saw the X on the one list. The OP though is referring to a timeline link created and placed at the very bottom of the wiki page. Had to click a 'show' button to see it.
Ah yes, now I see as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Lotus Production Model Timeline, 1950s-1970s

Reference material is really only useful if all the facts are included, and not the submitter subjectively deciding what goes in and what stays out.
...a valid point, and one with which i wrestled quite a bit while originally distilling lotus' production history down into a succinct visual timeline...i think i since have found a workable mechanism to communicate a more-comprehensive production history in wikipedia's standard timeline format: by breaking the timeline into two thirty-year periods, 1950s-1970s and 1980s-2000s, much greater information density can be accommodated without overwhelming its primary role as a compact ready reference...

...i've only drafted this first period so far, 1950s-1970s, but here's the raw data i've managed to collate over the past few weeks and how i've roughly categorised it - bear in mind that this doesn't include anything after 1980...

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SPORTS RACER
Mark II (1950)*1
Mark III (1951)*1
Mark VI (1952-1955)*2
Mark VIII (1954)
Mark IX (1955)
Mark X (1955)
Eleven (1956-1958)
Seven (S1 1957-1960)
Fifteen (Type 15 1958-1960)*7
Type 17 (1959)
Type 19 (1960-1962)
Type 23 (1962-1966)
Seven (S2 1960-1968)
Type 30 (1964-1965)
Three-Seven (Type 37 1965)
Type 40 (1965)
Seven (S3 1968-1970)
Seven (Type 60 S4 1970-1974)

ROADSTER
Elan (Type 26 S1 1962-1964)
Elan (Type 26 S2 1964-1966)
Elan (Type 45 S3 1966-1968)
Elan (type 45 S4 1968-1973)

COUPÉ
Elite (Type 14 1957-1964)
Elan (Type 36 S3 1965-1968)
Elan (Type 36 S4 1968-1973)
Eclat (Type 76 1975-1980)

SALOON
Elan (Type 50 +2 1967-1968)
Elan (Type 50 +2S 1968-1974)
Elite (Type 75 M50 1974-1980)

GRAND TOURER
Europa (Type 46 S1 1966-1968)
Europa (Type 54 S2 1968-1971)
Europa (Type 65 S2 1969-1971)
Europa (Type 74 TC 1971-1972)
Europa (Type 74 Special 1972-1975)
Esprit (Type 79 S1 1976-1978)
Esprit (Type 79 S2 1978-1981)

RACE CARS
Mark I (1948)*1
Mark IV (1952)*1
Type 12 (1957-1959)
Type 16 (1958-1960)
Type 18 (1960-1961)
Type 20 (1961)
Type 21 (1961-1962)
Type 22 (1962)
Type 24 (1962)
Type 25 (1962-1965)
Type 27 (1963)
Type 29 (1963)
Elan (Type 26R S1 1964)*3
Type 31 (1964-1965)
Type 32 (1964-1965)
Elan (Type 26R S2 1964-1966)*3
Type 33 (1964-1966)
Type 34 (1964)
Type 35 (1965)
Type 38 (1965-1966)
Type 39 (1965)
Type 41 (1966-1968)
Type 43 (1966)
Type 44 (1966)
Type 47 (1966-1968)*3
Type 42 (1967)
Type 48 (1967-1968)
Type 49 (1967-1969)
Type 51 (1967-1969)
Type 56 (1968)
Type 57 (1968)
Type 58 (1968)
Type 59 (1969)
Type 61 (1969-1972)
Type 62 (1969)
Type 63 (1969)
Type 64 (1969)
Type 69 (1970)
Type 70 (1970)
Type 72 (1970-1975)
Type 73 (1972)
Type 74 (1973)
Type 76 (1974)
Type 77 (1976)
Type 78 (1977-1978)
Type 79 (1978-1979)
Type 80 (1979)

CONCEPT CARS
Mark VII (1952)
Europa (Type 52 TC 1967)
Type 53 (1968)
Type 68 (1970)
Esprit (M70 1972)
Esprit (007 1977)*5

RELATED CARS
Clairmonte Special (1953)
Vanwall VW1/56 (1956)
Smart Elan (1962-1963)
Hexagon Elan (1962)
Ian Walker Elan (1963)*6
Ford Lotus Cortina (Type 28*4 1963-1970)
Frua Elan (1964)
Shapecraft Elan GT (1965-1966)*6
Lotus-Porsche (1965)
Crayford Ford Lotus Cortina (1965-1970)*6
LuMo 1600E TC (1967-1970)
GKN 47D (1969)
Else Europa (1969)
Hermes Europa (1971)
Clan Crusader (1971-1974)
Hispano-Aleman Castilla (1972)*8
Jensen-Healey (1972-1976)
Caterham Seven (1974-present)
GS Europa (1975)
Jensen GT (1975-1976)
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus (Type 81 1979-1981)

OTHER VEHICLES
Moonraker 36 (1971-1980, 1987-1991)*5 *9
Marauder 46 (1975)*5 *6 *9
Mystere (1975)*5 *6 *9
Mamba (1976)*5 *6 *9
Mistral (1976)*5 *6 *9
Mirage (1978)*5 *6 *9

KEY FIGURES
Ralph Bellamy
Fred Bushell
Colin Chapman
Jim Clark
Mike Costin
Bob Dance
Keith Duckworth
Giorgetto Giugiaro
Ron Hickman
Graham Hill
Michael Kimberley
Martin Ogilvie
Maurice Philippe
Tony Rudd
Peter Wright

RELATED COMPANIES
Vanwall
Cosworth
Technocraft

COMMENTS
*1 Production Car, Prototype/Concept Car, or Related Car?
*2 Mark 6 or Mark VI?
*3 Race Car or Sports Racer?
*4 Mark I Only (1963-1966)
*5 Worth Mention?
*6 Conjectural Date
*7 Fifteen or Type 15?
*8 Related Car (Lotus DNA) or Replica (Lotus Inspired)?
*9 Moonraker Marine, not a Lotus Project.

---

...i have a working draft of the first part of this updated timeline here, but don't intend to publish it to the mainline articles until it's vetted and i've ironed out all the orphaned links - i could especially use feedback on a few significant issues...

  • Key Figures are listed in alphabetical order, but I'd rather keep them in chronological order to follow the overall timeline format. Any help establishing association periods would be very helpful.
  • I need an ownership history of Lotus Cars and any other affiliated companies. Should Moonraker Marine be listed as a Related Company?
  • I've noticed in reading articles written by former employees that their shorthand for model numbers tends to follow the 'T80' format rather than simply '80', for example. Did this change take place from T12 onward?
  • It should be obvious that I'm only listing major model updates, not minor variants. For Road Cars, this means series or their rough analogs, not trim levels.
  • 1964-1965 is a problem, as it requires an additional row in the timeline to accommodate the Three-Seven. This makes the timeline a bit cluttered and ungainly - suggestions?
  • Since I published the original timeline, another Wikipedia editor has pulled the Race Cars category down below the Road Cars, I expect primarily to list the timeline first. Unfortunately, that throws off the 'grey area' transition afforded by the Sports Racer category. Is it worth adding a proper Race Cars timeline above the Road Cars, rather than the simple list used right now?
  • This version of the timeline has a half-year resolution, which allows model transitions which take place within the same year to be accurately portrayed.
  • I've only listed Key Figures who had significant input into the design, development, and administration of Lotus Cars. That means Jim Clark for his extensive testing feedback and Graham Hill for his mechanic work, for example, but not most of the other Team Lotus drivers. There's a separate article on Team Lotus which can go into much more detail about drivers, team managers, and the like.
...again, comments are welcomed...
 

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I offer my opinions as a Lotus enthusiast. Do with it as you like.

I would include the Type 28 Lotus Cortina as a Lotus rather than a related car. THe original Mark I both S1 and S2 were full fledged Lotuses. THe Mark II and later Cortinas had nothing more than the Lotus TC engine.

Like wise the Lotus Talbot Sunbeam carried the Type number 81 and should be considered a Lotus rather than a related car.

Your timeline stops before modern times, but the Lotus Carlton is in the same category.

Under related you could also include the Vanwall GP car - since Chapman did the chassis engineering, the Jensen Healey (first use of Lotus 900 series engine in a production car) and DeLorean (engineered by Lotus)

I would not refer to Types 47 and 62 as Europas. WHile they have a similarity they were never designated as such by Lotus.

In referring to Type designations I have never seen any reference to a Lotus Type as a T# only Mark(Roman Numeral) or Type(Arabic Numeral) except for the Eleven which they just referred to as Eleven and Seven, which as you know encompassed all Sevens. If employees referred to Lotuses as Tsomething it was likely unofficial. All of the official documents and publications I have ever seen referred to Lotuses as either production names (Elan, Esprit) Types (Type 107B, Type69) or simply number (Lotus 79).

YOu may want to make provisions for the duplicative numbers - like when F1 cars had Type numbers and JPS numbers and often shared their type number with a production car. This was true of the Type 74 F2 car aka Texaco Star as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
In referring to Type designations I have never seen any reference to a Lotus Type as a T# only Mark(Roman Numeral) or Type(Arabic Numeral) except for the Eleven which they just referred to as Eleven and Seven, which as you know encompassed all Sevens. If employees referred to Lotuses as Tsomething it was likely unofficial. All of the official documents and publications I have ever seen referred to Lotuses as either production names (Elan, Esprit) Types (Type 107B, Type69) or simply number (Lotus 79).
...i believe they intended the T to be read as shorthand for 'type', similarly to how 'mark' is often abbreviated as 'Mk'...in that context, if one were to write out a lotus car name in shorthand, would the preferred practice be '80' or 'T80'?..

...for the most part, i'm avoiding listing type numbers for road cars as the simple model(series) designation most-closely maps distinct revisions in their production history - i don't expect duplicate type numbers to be much of a problem in that regard...

...you can get a better feel for the formatting issues involved from my draft timeline than from the reference list i posted above...
 

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...i believe they intended the T to be read as shorthand for 'type', similarly to how 'mark' is often abbreviated as 'Mk'...in that context, if one were to write out a lotus car name in shorthand, would the preferred practice be '80' or 'T80'?..
Any way it could be confusing. Mk for Mark is easy, but Type is more difficult. Some race car manufacturese actually used T as part of their nomenclature specifically Cooper and Lola, while Lotus did not. So if a Lotus 51 is referred to as a T51 it would be incorrect. If a the T was seperated from the number by a space - T 51 - it would be less incorrect and could be considered correct if the T was used instead of Type simply for expedience - like in your situation to save you from typing Type over and over again, but I think there would have to be a notation indicating that. Like wise using just the number can be confusing especially during the sequence that roughly corresponded with production year - Type 72 comes to mind.

If I was doing a reference pice as you are I would refer to the models as Type rather than T as I feel it is more historically accurate and after all it is going into a reference source. If I was writing an article on Lotus I might refer to the models as the 38 or the 72 (always with the in front of the number) because the article would be about Lotus and the rest would be inferred. Or if the article was about a specific Type I would first say Type 78 then refer to it as the 78 for the rest of the article.

For your specific timeline - which I have viewed I would either write out Mark or Type for each one - which would admittedly be very cumbersome to the appearance, or drop the Mark and Type and simply refer to the model by the number - Roman for pre-Eleven and Arabic for post. ANd then make some kind of footnote that explains how the models were designated and why the change was made from Mark to Type.
 

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...m... once you have this all sorted as best can you, can you make a new thread with the timeline in the first post and we can make a sticky for it here? I think it would be very valuable. Thanks. And thanks also everyone else, specially Kyle.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
...gladly, although at the rate i've been able to pull all this together, it'll probably be at least another month or two before i consider the full production history well-enough sorted for general publication...
 

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You might want to add Ron Hickman to the list of people - he had a bit to do with the design of the Elan...
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I would include the Type 28 Lotus Cortina as a Lotus rather than a related car. Like wise the Lotus Talbot Sunbeam carried the Type number 81 and should be considered a Lotus rather than a related car. Your timeline stops before modern times, but the Lotus Carlton is in the same category.
...were the cortina, sunbeam, and carlton sold through lotus dealerships or through ford, chrysler/talbot, and vauxhall dealerships respectively?..

...i'm concerned about where to draw the line distinguishing lotus production cars from lotus engineering/manufacturing projects for other marques, and while admittedly the three cars carry type numbers and are highly collectable by lotus enthusiasts, they seem to me less of a lotus than, say, the opel speedster which to my eyes is classified as a related car rather than a lotus production car...the austin-based MKI-IV (although admittedly not regular serial production vehicles) i think are more lotus than than the cortina/sunbeam/carlton, and were also i believe represented by lotus as such, so that's where i'm leaning toward drawing the line...

...while lotus type numbers are a useful tool, they've never strictly mapped production car development, and i think it might be a mistake to tie the production car timeline against them too rigorously, particularly when wikipedia already maintains a separate comprehensive repository of type numbers...

...also, type fifteen: english word or arabic numeral?..
 

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...were the cortina, sunbeam, and carlton sold through lotus dealerships or through ford, chrysler/talbot, and vauxhall dealerships respectively?..

...i'm concerned about where to draw the line distinguishing lotus production cars from lotus engineering/manufacturing projects for other marques, and while admittedly the three cars carry type numbers and are highly collectable by lotus enthusiasts, they seem to me less of a lotus than, say, the opel speedster which to my eyes is classified as a related car rather than a lotus production car...the austin-based MKI-IV (although admittedly not regular serial production vehicles) i think are more lotus than than the cortina/sunbeam/carlton, and were also i believe represented by lotus as such, so that's where i'm leaning toward drawing the line...

...while lotus type numbers are a useful tool, they've never strictly mapped production car development, and i think it might be a mistake to tie the production car timeline against them too rigorously, particularly when wikipedia already maintains a separate comprehensive repository of type numbers...

...also, type fifteen: english word or arabic numeral?..
I don't know who acted as the retail outlet for the Cortina/Sunbeam/Carlton trio, but the cars were assembled in the Lotus Factory and were Lotus production models as far as Lotus were concerned, and Lotus enthusiasts generally them as Lotus production cars. So as far as I am concerned tehya re all Lotus - and had I greater funds I would own an example of each - so I would include them in any format that lists Lotus cars.

Personally I am hoping that Proton attemp to enter the US market and as a way to introduce the marque to US buyer commissions a Lotus version of one of their cars and it gets a Lotus Type number and is sold as a Lotus. I would buy one straight off.

The Speedster raises an interesting point. I always thought that these cars were not assigned a Lotus Type number and while assembled by Lotus in the factory and are pretty much modified Elises I never considered them to be Lotuses. However I had a discussion with Cornbeef about it and was informed they have a Type number (116?) so I might have to consider them to be Lotuses. It kind of obfuscates the issue. I personally feel that anything(road car, race car, bicycle, gravity racer) that carries a Lotus Type number (or Mark) is a full fledged Lotus.

THe Fifteen should be described in a Type number listing as a 15 (arabic numeral) as the only Lotus' officially referred to as a spelled out number were the Eleven and Seven, though in prose I either refer to it as the Fifteen or the Type 15.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The Fifteen should be described in a Type number listing as a 15 (arabic numeral) as the only Lotus' officially referred to as a spelled out number were the Eleven and Seven, though in prose I either refer to it as the Fifteen or the Type 15.
...wasn't the three-seven spelled out as well, and of course the 2-eleven?..
 

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...wasn't the three-seven spelled out as well, and of course the 2-eleven?..
THe Three Seven I'm not sure about since it was a one off. It got the Type designation 37 but I think it was referred to as the Three Seven. I really don't know enough about that model to know. 2-Eleven is a model designation like Elise or Elan rather than a Type designation.

I thought more about the 15 and recall that the sales brochure spells out Fifteen on the cover (it looks the same as the Eleven brochure). THe more we discuss it the more confusing the issue seems to get. WHile I will readily give my opinion, based on a long period of voracious reading and interest in the Marque, I really can't say what was in the minds of those on the front lines, or quote corporate policy on the matter.

But for the sake of consistency I recommend using Mark for everything before the Eleven, except for the Seven. Using Seven and Eleven for those models. Model designations for Road cars (perhaps with Types in parentheses if the format allows) and Type Arabic numeral for everything else. Individual write up on specific Types can further discuss nomenclature alternatives and ways to refer to models as they get written (if the author chooses to do so).

I don't envy the task you have undertaken and respect your willingness to undertake the endeavor.

I hope you find my input useful, and as always use it at your discretion.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
...well, as we've already discussed, there's a lot of grey area and ambiguity to resolve in compiling a quick visual reference, as lotus has over the years tended to play fast and loose with types, models, years, and market segments...heck, colin chapman himself considered preserving historical cars and archives to be a frivolous endeavor compared to developing new technology, and it took quite a bit of arm-twisting for his family to convince him to support their efforts...

...i appreciate your feedback...
 

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The Wikipedia list states that the Lotus Mk IX was based on the Mk VIII. This is no more true than saying that the Mk VIII, was based on the Mk VI.

Both cars had a works version (the Mk VIII being the P3) and the two works Mk IXs were the P4. One had a magnesium body.

They differed from the production cars that had a chassis frame based on the Mk VI. The P3 had a terrible space frame which, although technically advanced, was hopeless because the engine could not be removed without taking off the cylinder head. It also had a very unusual rear suspension using a coil spring in tension and no rear roll resistance.

The two P4s (one of which ran at Le Mans) had a completely different space frame, very similar to the Eleven.

How do I know? Because I did many of the drawings for both cars.

Peter Ross
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I would not refer to Types 47 and 62 as Europas. WHile they have a similarity they were never designated as such by Lotus.
...what about the elan 26R?..
 
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