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My Lotus Diary August 2004

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28th August 2004

Popped across (two and half hour drive) to Silverstone today to get my first view of a MenaceRemote site. It was going to be racing in this 750 series meet. Unfortunately, it was undergoing further pre-race testing and wasn't going to be there until the Sunday for the races. Worth going thouggh as Martin Bell and Mark Fisher were around displaying some othe cars and I had a great chance to quiz them and answer most of the questions I had about the car and the various options. All I need to do now is to see one in the flesh!

Also got to see some great racing, though Silverstone is such a vast race track that it is quite difficult to get close to the action. I wandered through ther garages, across the pit lane and onto the pit lane wall though to get a better view. Some very interesting cars there including a GT40 and a Tommy Kaira ZZ, the very short lived Elise competitor, also from Norfolk. Only three left in the UK now apparently.

The dat was very useful for looking at ways people had solved problems under the engine bay and I aslo saw planty of cars running the Compomotive CRX wheels that I want to put on my car. Also saw some Yokohama A048R at 13R60/205 size and they do not look right on a 6" rim to me.

3rd August 2004

It's only taken six years but Lotus are slowly getting a decent web storeRemote site together!

New Lotus GT is announced but it is still a long way off:

World exclusive pictures in this week's mag prove Lotus is working on a new GT - and it's set to take on the Noble M12. The mag's spies caught the stunning newcomer testing near the company's headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk

Bosses at Lotus say the car is currently a prototype, but is being seriously considered for a showroom debut. Our sources have hinted that the green light for production is merely a formality, and that the machine could easily be on sale in the UK as soon as 2006.

The manufacturer has already taken on an extra 100 employees recently, chiefly to satisfy increased demand for the Elise both at home and abroad - but it's likely that an all-new model could mean even more jobs being created. The car, which could see the famous Excel or Elite names making a comeback, will slot into the Lotus range above the Elise, and is tipped to weigh in at around the 40,000 mark.

A 2+2 version of the newcomer is also being considered, with a larger cabin allowing for two occasional seats in the rear. If this machine gets the go-ahead, it will be the first four-seater Lotus has produced since the 1984 Excel.

A source told us: "There's a huge amount of excitement surrounding the project. Officially, the machine is a concept in development.

"This is not a replacement for the Elise, but a car that offers touring capability and will be positioned above it in the market." The model will feature a sporty new chassis, using the same bonded aluminium structure as the Elise, and will come with a mid-mounted engine.

The company has yet to finalise what the definitive powerplant will be but, as with the Elise, it's likely to be sourced from Toyota, as the two manufacturers have a strong working relationship. Insiders have hinted that the glassfibre-bodied GT is set to offer around 300bhp, and will be fitted with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission.

But while it will be seen as a sporting car, the newcomer will be more geared up for touring than track action. The mag's spy shots show how it will be significantly wider than the Elise, giving a more comfortable and spacious interior. The revolutionary model will also aim to be the most practical Lotus since the last Elite went out of production back in 1991, with a genuinely roomy luggage bay at the rear, behind the engine cover.

Company engineers are believed to be working on a unique suspension set-up for the car, with softer spring rates than those on the Elise and an all-new wishbone arrangement at the front. But that's not to say the GT won't have the fine handling for which Lotus has become renowned over the years - insiders have hinted that the wide track will give it even more grip than the already limpet-like Elise.

The secret model coincides with the firm's ambitious plans to expand into new markets around the globe. "We want it to be a world car, as we have stated in the past," revealed our source. "It will take on America and other markets where we want the brand to grow."

Lotus is already expanding in the US, after the latest-generation Elise was granted a temporary exemption from stringent crash test legislation that would otherwise have made it impossible to sell the model in the States. Although law makers recognise that the Lotus is a safe vehicle, the regulations declare that all cars sold in the country must have bumpers of a certain depth - as it stands, the Elise doesn't comply, although negotiations are currently underway to get the issue resolved.

The British company has been absent from the American market since the Esprit went out of production earlier this year. However, it is now looking to expand its dealer network to distribute 3,000 cars annually on the other side of the Atlantic. The new GT is expected to boost sales even further, with as many as 5,000 examples tipped to be exported every year.

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