Early this month, Lotus unveiled a duo of cars to celebrate it’s 70th anniversary. The Exige models were unveiled at Goodwood and mark the anniversary of Lotus’ 1948 inception. Both cars emulate successful Lotus models with the Exige Type 49 inspired by Graham Hill’s Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship winning Lotus Type 49 and the Exige Type 79 inspired by Mario Andretti’s 1978 World Championship, and Lotus the Constructors’ Championship, in the Lotus Type 79. The former even took part in the famed hill climb.
Lotus has a special place in the story of British sportscar manufacturers. The Hethel-based company have been producing race and road cars for a considerable number of years. It was back in 1948 when Colin Chapman built his first competition car in a small lock up garage. It wasn’t until four years later, in 1952, that Lotus was officially born.
Lotus has in recent years been known mostly for its road cars. Yet, it should be remembered that the race team chalked up 475 Grand Prix starts, scored 79 victories and 7 World Championships in Formula 1 alone. It also has history in Rally, Le Mans, Indy and saloon car classes around the world.
The special edition Exige models are based on the latest Exige Cup 430. Lotus claims that the Type 49 and 79 set the fastest lap time for a road car around Lotus’ Hethel test track, covering the 2.2 miles in just 1 minute 24.8 seconds.
Both cars use a 3.5 litre V6 engine deriver from Toyota. With a supercharger, the engine produces 430 hp at 7,000 rpm and 440 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. 100 km/h flys past in 3.3 seconds with a top speed of 290 km/h. Both cars weight just 1,056 kg in their lightest configuration.
Both cars get carbon composite body panels including the front splitter, front clam, air blades, unique bargeboards, roof panel, rear tailgate, straight-cut wing and diffuser surround. With careful aerodynamic work, Lotus have managed to deploy 220 kg of downforce, air curtain elements and louvers in the front clam panel efficiently regulate turbulence and drag, and reduce pressure within the front wheel arches.
At the suspension side of things, Nitron three-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars are fitted as standard. Both cars use Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres with forged aluminium wheels coupled to four-piston AP Racing brake calipers and race-derived two-piece, J-hook brake discs. The cars also feature Lotus’ open-gate manual gearbox.
Both the Exige Type 49 and 79 have been carefully put together by Lotus Exclusive using the racing colours of their namesakes. The Exige Type 49 gets a solid red colour while the Type 79 gets motorsport black. Both cars feature contrasting pinstripes on the front splitters, front access panels, bargeboards, roof panels and rear wings in Championship Gold.
Inside, Lotus fit in-house manufactured carbon race seats trimmed in black Alcantara and finished with colour keyed red and gold, or black and gold, contrast double stitching. The door panels and face-level vents, transmission console are also finished to complement. There are plenty of anodised aluminium and carbon fibre elements including door sills and an instrument binnacle cover.