Lotus is synonymous with racing at the highest levels of motorsport; with the company having made its name by winning races with the likes of Jim Clark, Mario Andretti and Ayrton Senna. This association helped the company become very successful in the road car market during this period.
Things started to go awry following the death of founder Colin Chapman in 1982 and the companyâ€™s reputation for high performance innovation inspired by motorsport participation gently evaporated.
However, the company is now going back to its roots under the direction of its new CEO, the former Ferrari man Dany Bahar. This has seen them return to high level motorsport (Formula One, Indycar and Le Mans) and bring high performance motorsport technology to road users like never before with the new T125.
Get closer to F1 than ever before
Named in order to align it to Lotusâ€™s first ever championship winning F1 chassis (Lotus 25), the Lotus T125 is as close to the companyâ€™s current F1 racer as usability and finances allow. Powered by a 3.5 litre 640 BHP Cosworth V8 despite only weighing 650kg and with F1 inspired aerodynamics, the T125 is perhaps the highest performance track day car the average petrol head will ever get their hands on.
Only 25 T125â€™s are to be made, with each buyer getting a complimentary day of individual training with Formula 1 race winner Jean Alesi, who is going to be contesting the Indy 500 race for Lotus next year. Additionally, each T125 owner will be able to pick their own colour scheme or livery for the car, with historic Lotus JPS, Camel and British racing green liveries all being available to customers.
However, all of this performance and exclusivity does not come cheap; with the T125 costing close to $1 million. On top of this, anyone who is thinking of driving the vehicle will have to pass stringent health and fitness tests in order to prove that they are capable of handling the remarkable forces which the car places on the occupants body, with 5g (five times the force of gravity) being generated by the vehicles advanced aerodynamics in certain corners.
One slight deviation from F1 machinery is that it does come with its own starter motor, ensuring that you will not have to have your own pit crew to get you started every time you take to the track. Lotusâ€™s marketing and PR executive Kevin Smith commented: â€œThis is as close as you can get to the F1 experience.â€
The future is just beginning
The T125 is just the start of Lotusâ€™s future according to Bahar, who has steered the company back down the motorsport route. Bahar believes that the association with Motorsport is what made Lotus so successful during it prime, and is hoping that it is not too late to recapture past glories.
Its focus on developing technologies for motorsport projects are expected to have a knock on effect on the companyâ€™s road legal vehicle fleet, with a new Lotus Esprit, Elan and Elise all set to hit the market within the next five years.
Perhaps the one major flaw of the T125 is that $1 million would likely be enough to buy you a seat in a major motorsport category like F3 for a single season, or perhaps even a winter testing day for perennial F1 back-markers HRT.
It should also not be forgotten that $1 million is only the initial buying costs, and does not include fuel or insurance prices; not to mention the cost of replacement tyres with F1 tyres regularly burning out after about 20 laps of some circuits. It is also unlikely that conventional breakdown cover companies would be interested in offering you comprehensive packages, with the cost of replacement parts likely to be astronomical.