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Just for fun, what if Collin Chapman did not die in the 80's...more

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by Tifoso1, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

    Nov 18, 2003
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    Anthony C.
    For example,

    If Collin Chapman did not die so early, do you think:
    1) A.Senna would still have gone to McLaren? As I would think that Honda would have continue to be partners with Lotus, wonder how many titles they would have won together.
    2) Obviously that Lotus would probably still be in F1 and be one of the top teams. How do you think the world of F1 would be different if that was the case?

    Again, I know this is meaningless as Lotus is only a shell of what it used to be, but it would always be special to me. To me, my foundness of Lotus is only second to Ferrari, both on and off the race tracks. Just wondering what some of you "old timers" think of this. :)
     
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  3. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Hmmm, this is possible but I believe engineers have there day at the top and Colin had longer than most. I honestly think he had run out of ideas and needed to move in to a more managerial role and hirer some new blood. I also think Lotus was in very, very serious financial trouble even when Colin was around (in fact I believe it may have caused his heart attack). Thus Lotus was not on the same level playing field as Williams and McLaren as the new teams knew the ropes in this more modern world of F1 better than Lotus. Remember that McLaren under Ron Dennis is only a continuation of the McLaren team in name only. I believe Ron's team was called Project 4 and all he had was Barnard and Marlboro's backing. Over night Marlboro basically stuck Ron and Barnard into McLaren and er, Project 4 became er, McLaren.

    If Lotus had survived as you say and were still in F1 it would be nice but not really make any difference. I guess they could have been considered another Ferrari but 20 years behind the maturing manufacturer status (outside motorsport, where there cars are still considered a step up from a kit car). Ferrari never really got labelled that because Enzo did not allow that sort of component selling, er, as much.

    I also wonder what McLaren (the original) would be like if Bruce had not died ... especially as he was playing around with his road car. Bruce was very much like a Colin Chapman and was a brilliant engineer that had yet to fully flower :(

    Pete
     
  4. Philjay50

    Philjay50 Formula Junior

    Jan 16, 2003
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    I like you have a fondness for Lotus and have been associated with them for many years. I think that Colin's heart attack was due to the stress of Deloren ! The whole thing must have been a nightmare.
    Lotus was always in financial difficulty, even in there hey-day, I think this was partly due to thier avdventurous engineering and the spiroling cost of motor sport. Also they have been, I am sure, an unwilling participant of pass the parcel (read company for parcel) as they have had so many owners over the years.
    If Colin were still alive and if they had had some financial stability, and hooked up with a manufacturer who would be willing to pour vast amounts of money into motor racing, then I think they would be a major player.
    However don't discount them, they do a massive amount of engineering consultancy for heven knows who, and although a different group, they still product fantastic cars, I love them still.
     
  5. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    I think you are right. Ron Dennis did an amazing job with McLaren, as Frank William had done with Williams. If I dare to say, I think they were the two major driving force that changed F1 from what it used to be into what it is today. As for Bruce McLaren, Collin Chapman and Enzo Ferrari, I don't think they were anywhere close to R.D. or F.W. when it comes to the managerial skills or marketing and the willingness to entice big time sponsors. However, I do find it interesting that other than Ferrari, I think and feels that Lotus may be the only other company that I can think of that also holds a similar mythical aura.

    Someone had mention on another thread about the possibility that VW may buy Jordan and enter F1 under the Audi plate. I think that is great as I feel that the future of F1 is within the big name manufactures, the days of privateers, unfortunately are no more in the current state of F1 world. I have always dreamed that GM would enter F1 and revive the name Lotus, with proper support, of course.

    Also, you are right about the re-incarnation of McLaren under R.D. It was known as McLaren Project 4, hence all their cars are know as MP4-etc. Anwyay, thank you for your input on this topic. It is nice and fun to see what other fellow members think of Lotus and F1 racing in general.
     
  6. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    It just breaks my heart to see the Espirit V8s these days, the car is running on a 30 year old chassis !! The Elise is a great car, but it just seems like there is something missing there. I remember that there were so many other major manufactures back in the 80's coming to Lotus Engineering LTD. for help and all the great cars that were borned because of their assistance on their road cars. If I recall correctly, I believe Lotus was the one that helped pioneer the double wishbone suspensions and the active suspensions systems. They helped Honda and Toyota with their road cars, and the Corvette ZR1 in both the engine and the suspension design. I remember reading somewhere, written by a well known auto-journalist that it is the Lotus owners that Porsche owners "hates" the most, because as great as Porsches may be, Ferrari is somehow consider to be a notch above, so there is no real competition or shame to not have the same "wow" factor as the Ferraris. But however, with Lotus in the same league as Porsches are, next to each other, Lotus just draws all the attention away from the Porsches. :)
     
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  8. Erik330

    Erik330 Formula Junior

    May 8, 2004
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    Colin was almost the exact opposite of Enzo, philosophically. Enzo was a conservative, staying with front engines, drum brakes, V-12s etc. beyond where it made sense to do so. Colin would try anything new and was constantly reinventing the F1 cars and Lotus as a business (boats, aircraft, furniture, design consultancy including the Black and Decker Workmate). Yet both were highly successful.

    I think Colin would have kept up with the Frank Williamses and Ron Dennises of the world, although Colin was a generation (or two) older. Colin was the guy who really figured out how to use OPM for F1 racing via Ford, John Player, Firestone, etc. Much like Enzo, he had little time for tradition. I was standing in the chopper line at Watkins Glen in the '70s and found myself next to Colin. I introduced myself, we chatted, and said "I have a Lotus Mk6", his eyes glazed, he said "how nice for you." and moved on. No interest whatsoever in discussing his first production vehicle.

    Colin was gone before Senna, but I believe that he and Senna would have worked out a relationship much like Colin had with Jim Clark and yes, I think that the team would have won a lot of world championships with Honda power.

    Remember that Lotus was fooling with active suspension long before Williams, and I suspect that other electronic gizzies would have appeared on Lotuses first. Colin was just that way. Always looking for the unfair advantage. Also, by the 1960s, he realized that fantastic engineer that he was, he was better at coming up with ideas, letting someone else (Maurice Phillippe, Len Terry, etc.) realize the details, and then work together to finalize the design.

    Again, it's interesting to contrast the Lotus of today with Ferrari. Lotus builds unbelievably great handling cars (even though the chassis on the Esprit is elderly) and makes the most money on design consulting; Ferrari sells no design consulting services and builds excellent handling cars (with superb motors). Ferrari picked a partner (Fiat) that supported the F1 expenditures. Lotus didn't, and in fact Lotus was only sold after Chapman's death.

    If Lotus had hooked up with Ford, or Honda, or Toyota while Chapman was alive who knows what would have come of it?

    Can only speculate because Chapman and Fred Bushell engaged in what were apparently illegal activities and so even if Chapman had lived, he would likely have been out of the game by the late 80's/early 90s due to legal problems.
     
  9. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    I was going to mention that I thought he was in heavy legal trouble near the end........Delorean, et al...

    Hard to run a business from the can. A great part of history prior to that, so I make no judgement of the man. I have some Lotus Team stuff, it marked the start of Tommy H's F1 involvement.
     
  10. macca

    macca Formula Junior

    Dec 3, 2003
    677
    I think if ACBC hadn't had a heart attack in 1982 and wasn't in jail, then he'd probably have had a heart attack by now - he was always prone to portliness (hence his nickname 'Chunky') - and remember he was of an earlier generation than Williams, Dennis or Jordan so would have been past 70 now.

    In the 1950s and 1960s he freely admitted that Lotus made cars so he could go racing................but in the 1970s and 80s he lost focus, buying a boat company and dabbling with a microlight aircraft design, apart from the greed that got him mixed up with John Zachary.

    In 1976 Mario Andretti only agreed to rejoin Lotus if Colin stopped playing with his other toys and concentrated on F1, but after the Championship year of 1978 Colin was distracted again.............firstly with his usual greed for another big technical jump with the Lotus 80, rather than refining the 79, then being besotted with David Thieme of Essex Petroleum, and later even compromising F1 car design by deliberately giving one car more flat surfaces for sponsor space.

    The 'Assemblatori' British F1 teams have stayed successful by concentrating on that one thing; IMHO part of the reason McLaren have dropped back is that Ron Dennis has taken his eye off the ball with the Mercedes road car and the new HQ. As long as you can get the big sponsors so you don't have to pay for anything yourself, it is still possible to compete in F1 (as Williams do - they've done a few non-F1 projects in the past but nothing major) but the focus need sto be there, and Colin Chapman had lost it long before 1982.

    Paul M
     
  11. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

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    Paul,

    That was very interesting and perceptive. Interesting and I think you have hit the nail on the head.

    Pete
     
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  13. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    I agree with PSK, thank you for sharing the very interesting POV on this. I was not aware of CC's potential legal troubles. Thank you for the brief history lesson.
     
  14. Feffman

    Feffman Karting
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    AHH here you guys are remembering my beloved Lotus. IF Colin had survived, he'd have gone to jail for the Delorean project (SIGH!) and that would have likely killed Lotus.

    As for the "kit car" comment. Yes it was true in Lotus' early life but today that's poppy cock. The Elise is one of the most sought after sports cars in Europe and now the USA with one of the stiffest chassis made. Yes, it's spartan but lightness adds speed. Ask Aston Martin (another of my favorites) who helped design their chassis on the Vanquish. The Esprit, I have a 1999 V8 in my garage, is old technology(the flexible flier of supercars), but still very effective. There's an article in this month's issue of "Classic and Sports Car" (I think) comparing an early Esprit V8 to an F355. You guys should read it. I spoke with the managing driector of Louts UK last year at our national meeting and he suggeted he can't wait for the Esprit replacement and likely 1-2 other cars coming out over the next several years. All will be based on Lotus VVC platform. BIG grin on his face!

    For Lotus to have stayed in F1 I agree with you guys, it sould have taken the wallet of a big manufacturer, ala Fiat for Ferrari, Ford for Jaguar, Mercedes for McLaren, etc., to keep them there. But wouldn't it have been fun to see Ferrari and Lotus still battling (hopefully competitively). I digress.

    Let's face it Jon Todt, Michael and Ross are on a roll and I don't think anyone is going to be able to build a "Team" to catch them until MS hangs it up. Maybe McLaren can build on Raikkonen and Montoya in 2005 but it's just not the same. Look at the passion of the Ferrari team. It's more then a business for the Prancing Horse.

    Happy Motoring!

    Mark Pfeffer - Treasurer Lotus Ltd.
    - Grand Poobah St. Louis Area Lotus Lovers (STALLS)
     
  15. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    As I have stated before, I have always like Lotus, both their F1 team and their road car. I have even toyed with the idea of getting an Elise, however, I have shy away from it because of the lack of dealership and support here in US. Even know that it has a Toyota powerplant, which is just about bulletproof, but it is not like I can just get the car serviced by any Toyota dealership. I think Lotus needs help from other manufactures, from both the service and the sales point of view. Unfortunately, I don't think that GM is the best candidate for this.
     
  16. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    Lotus is partenered with the Mercedes dealer here in Houston, Texas.

    Right up the street.....I'm watching to see what happens with the Elise...

    We also have an independent that repairs them........;)
     
  17. Fiat Dino 206

    Fiat Dino 206 Karting

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    My dumb question of the day!

    Who owns Lotus today? I thought that GM had or has majority ownership in Lotus?
     
  18. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    That is correct, GM does own Lotus, but I think it is the road car and maybe the research group. I think that Lotus F1 is own by someone else.
     
  19. Erik330

    Erik330 Formula Junior

    May 8, 2004
    667
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    Well, I'm apparently in the minority, but I do not at all accept the idea that Chapman wasn't focused on F1; Peter Warr ran the F1 team and ran it well and with success for a number of years after Colin died. Trouble was, Colin wasn't there to guide the thinking on the design side. The Lotus 88 would have been a worldbeating car if the other teams hadn't whined about the car being illegal. http://www.***************.com/frame.mv?file=car.mv&num=683

    Lotus invented active suspension long before Williams used it, but again, Colin wasn't there to push the development. The 88 was the first composite (carbon fiber) tubbed F1 car before the McLaren MP4.

    GM has not owned Lotus for at least 8 or 9 years. Lotus is owned by the Malaysian car company Proton. Team Lotus was the F1 Racing business and was a separate corporation from the car company since the 1960s and is still owned by Chapman's son, Clive.
     
  20. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    It seems like you know a lot about Lotus, is there a website or a chat site similar to the FerrariChat that I can go to and learn more about Lotus?
     
  21. Anthony_Ferrari

    Anthony_Ferrari Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2003
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    I believe that 'Classic Team Lotus' is owned by David Hunt (James Hunt's brother). They own and race old Lotus cars. They also do a line of merchandise.
     
  22. Erik330

    Erik330 Formula Junior

    May 8, 2004
    667
    Ohio
    Anthony C., good question. I do not know of a similar chat website for Lotus. I have looked at a bunch of them and dropped off due to lack of participation. I've owned and raced various Loti for years and have always had the greatest respect for the organization. There are darn few companies that can match this record:

    F1 World Champions 1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1978, Indianapolis Winner 1965

    Anthony Ferrari, you are confusing two groups. Classic Team Lotus does as you say but is owned by Clive Chapman http://www.classicteamlotus.co.uk/Content/Profile.htm

    David Hunt bought the Lotus F1 team cars from the family and the name rights for F1 (for some period of time, I believe) and was hoping to restart Lotus as an active F1 team. However, the old finance bugaboo reared its head and he was not able to pull it off.

    Next Sunday, July 18th is the 50th Anniversary of Lotus celebration at Hethel. Sounds like a terrific program with over 20 Lotus F1 cars.

    http://www.classicteamlotus.co.uk/Content/50yrs.htm
     
  23. Feffman

    Feffman Karting
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    Hi All:

    FYI!

    Lotus is owned by Proton, which is the state owned car company/manufacturer in Malaysia with VERY deep pockets. GM owned Lotus back in the late 80's and early 90's before being sold to Roman Aritolli who in turn sold it to Proton. The Elise is named after his granddaughter!

    There are not many Lotus dealers in the USA (51 if I remember) and that number will likely stay the same throuhg 2004 but there will be changes to upgrade the dealer network. In 2005, per Lotus Cars USA, the dealer network will expand by about nine(9) dealers in select markets.
    Here's hoping. Most of the dealers are pretty good, if not visually appealing at times. This too will likely change now that Lotus has a car, the Elise for now, which they can sell more then 100 annually.

    Peter Warr did an outstanding job with the Lotus F1 team after Chapman's death and hoepfully Peter will be the guest speaker at our national Lotus meeting next year (LOG 25).

    If you guys are patient, the national Lotus owners club, Lotus Ltd. (www.LotusCarClub.org) is completely revamping their web site. It should be done within the next 30 - 60 days. It will include a forum similar to Ferrari Chat. Maybe it will be Lotus Chat??!! :)

    I'm just glad to hear people still remember the glory days of Louts F1. Been a long time. If you want to see a neat collection of Lotus race cars, stop by the Barber Museum and Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. Awesome collection of Lotus F1 cars and tons of motorcycles. Our national meeting, LOG 24 is there this year.

    Happy Motoring!

    Mark
     
  24. Tifoso1

    Tifoso1 F1 Rookie

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    Thank you Mark for all the information on the future of Lotus. I sincerely hope that Lotus will be revived in both the racing front and the road car front. I was too young to know Lotus back in its glory days, but I do remember seeing A. Senna in the yellow Camel-Lotus-Honda on TV. In my opinion, Lotus is the only one that can go toe to toe with Ferrari in both fronts from the pedigree and competition POV. Perhaps it was due to lack of road cars by McLaren and Williams (At least not until recently, of course). Anyway, I am sure that I am not the only one here that would love to find out more on Lotus in the future, please keep us posted. Again, thank you.
     
  25. Erik330

    Erik330 Formula Junior

    May 8, 2004
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    It was not all that long ago (maybe 1999) that Ferrari and McLaren passed Lotus for the highest number of GP victories. Lotus had around 100 wins.
     
  26. lotustt

    lotustt Formula 3

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    Without the great ACBC F1 racing wouldnt have come to be as it did. He revolutionized the sport and was ahead of his time in engineering prowess. He was far ahead of the pack and was so good, many of his engineering accomplishments in racing were held back and outlawed by F1 because they were just to damn good and to hard to beat. Sorry in my opinion Enzo does not even come close in regards to engineering and racing genius. Thank Colin and Lotus for many racing innovations.
     

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