Lotus Advanced Performance will use 1960s and 1970s drawings as basis for totally bespoke, limited-run models.
Newly formed Lotus Advanced Performance (LAP) will soon give the first details of a series of radical, highly bespoke cars that it will put into limited production in Hethel.
LAP’s primary remit is to create extreme, limited-run machines that will be built and sold separately to Lotus’s core production models. It has also taken control of Lotus’s motorsport efforts and will introduce a range of hardcore options and packages for series-production cars – not dissimilar to how BMW’s M division operates.
The 15-strong LAP team is headed up by Simon Lane, ex-boss of Aston Martin’s similarly positioned Q department, who describes it as “the most all-encompassing special operations department” of any manufacturer.
Lane said some “really, really cool” projects are underway.
Unveilings are likely to coincide with important Lotus anniversaries in the next few years, namely the 50th anniversary of Lotus’s 1972 Formula 1 constructors’ championship win and the company’s 75th anniversary in 2023.
An earlier teaser suggested the first creation from LAP would be inspired by 1970s Lotus F1 cars, but Lane also revealed that his team is “well advanced” on plans for a series of totally bespoke restomod cars unlike anything else on sale.
These will be based on technical drawings from the 1960s and 1970s of cars that “never bhpsaw the light of day”.
Lane didn’t give any specifics of these models but said: “In the case of a number of drawings, there’s very limited technical detail, which gives us a little bit of free licence.
“Cars from the 1960s are from a different era and can be a bit scary. That’s when a number of these drawings were done. But we can reinterpret them and use modern materials, suspension and brakes.”
Crucially, while the wider Lotus Group moves towards all-out electrification, LAP is “reserving the right to still play with combustion engines”. This suggests that these creations, while modernised, will use variations of iconic engines from Lotus’s past.
Asked if the LAP models will be related technically to any Lotus production cars, Lane said: “In the case of the restomod line, they’re 100 per cent bespoke
“If we’re building a car that never saw the light of day, that’s a scratch build.
In the future, we may look at doing continuations, but the continuations I’ve been involved with previously have almost been blueprints of the original car.
“There are companies out there, like Singer for example, who have shown what can be done in terms of reinventing a car using modern technology. Customers love the look and style of that period of car, but they want something that’s easier to drive and maybe has a better power-to-weight ratio and better brakes.”
Lane also said that LAP could offer an electromod package for classic cars, working with Classic Team Lotus, which is headed up by Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman.
“There are customers who want to drive a classic but want to feel responsible, and in fact an electric drivetrain can completely change how a classic car drives”, reasoned Lane.
And while the initial focus is on combustion engines, an electric future for LAP beckons.
“With cars that use new car platforms – the Emira, Evija or new electric platforms – that gives us an opportunity to put a new top hat on the car, potentially tweak the powertrain and do other things,” said Lane.
LAP will maintain an exclusive billing by building fewer cars “than you would expect”, but Lane didn’t indicate how rare these creations will be, nor how much they could cost.