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Founded by that great maverick from the racing world Colin Chapman, Lotus has already established as chequered a past since the flags which have been waved in front of their winning F1 cars. When Chapman died in 1982 the near future for this Norfolk-based marque looked more precarious than ever before, and over the coming years it drained the time of its various owners, including General Motors and Roman Artioli (Bugatti Group).

In 1996 salvation originated from an unlikely quarter, the Malaysian national car maker Proton. In return for helping with improving that brand's cars, Proton would enable Lotus to finance its own plans, then based on the Peter Stevens-penned Elise, introduced the year before at the Geneva Motor Show, and also the already-ageing Esprit.

Today the Elise and it is hot-shot stable mate Exige provide all of the Lotus fixes that owners could want: both of them are pure sports cars which continue the tradition established by Chapman when he started building race car-based road cars in the 1950s.

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