Lotus has been building cars at its current factory location in Hethel near Norfolk, England since 1967 and its throwing a party to celebrate. If you're a fan of Colin Chapman's creations and their successors and you're in the vicinity of Hethel on September 23, you should swing by the plant.
The factory floor, some of the special engineering test facilities, and the test track will all be open to visitors that day. Examples of all the cars built at Hethel over the past four decades including the long-running Esprit, the Elise, the Elan and others will all be on display. As with any good birthday party, all the attendees get a goody bag with some Lotus stuff to take home. The press release with all the details is after the jump, and we've provided a high-res gallery of the classic Esprit S1 for your enjoyment.
11 September 2007 Page 1 of 3
Calling all Lotus Fans to Hethel -23 September 2007
Open Day Celebrates 40 years of Manufacturing at Hethel
Lotus fans around the world are invited to celebrate the Ruby Milestone of 40 years of manufacturing at the Lotus Headquarters at Hethel, Norfolk on the 23rd of September 2007.
Much of the Lotus factory will be open including the assembly halls, where all the award winning Lotus cars are built, special areas of Lotus Engineering's world class high technology facilities, and of course the test track where there will be exciting driving activities.
The Open Day will be opened by Hazel Chapman (the wife of the founder Colin Chapman who built the first Lotus car in 1948). Lotus is also delighted that Classic Team Lotus, run by Colin and Hazel's son, Clive, will also be providing invaluable support to the event.
There will also be a display of examples of all the cars manufactured at Hethel over the last 40 years, fun activities for children, including a fun fair, retail stores for local produce as well as opportunities to purchase official Lotus and Classic Team Lotus merchandise. Several Lotus clubs will have their own stands and exhibits of clubs owners' cherished Lotus cars.
All visitors will get a free Lotus "Goodie-Bag" which includes an exclusive 40th pin badge.
Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive of Group Lotus said, "As Lotus has been based at Hethel for 40 years, it is timely to celebrate such a milestone with a Lotus Open Day. The event is a celebration of the Lotus brand, a thank you to all the Lotus enthusiasts around the world for their support over the years and a re-inforcement of our commitment to Norfolk and to the UK. I would also like to personally thank all Lotus staff for their dedication and commitment over the last 40 years and for their help in commemorating this special day. Hethel is our headquarters and our home and I would like to invite all Lotus fans around the world to take this exclusive opportunity to spend the day with us."
Everyone arriving in a Lotus car will be able to park on site at Lotus, all other visitors are able to park at the Norfolk Show Ground Park and Ride, at Costessey, Norwich, with free courtesy buses to and from the Lotus factory.
The Event in more detail
Lotus Assembly Halls:
Lotus clubs members will be able to see around the manufacturing and assembly halls, where all Lotus cars are built, and where all new Lotus cars will be built in the future.
Lotus Test Track
The tight and twisty South Circuit will be open for visitors to have high speed rides in current
Lotus Engineering is the world leading, high technology consultancy division of Group Lotus, and is very rarely open the public. Visitors have the opportunity to have a behind the scenes look at the world class research, design and engineering facilities where future Lotus Cars and indeed cars of Lotus Engineering's many customers around the world are designed, developed and tested.
Elsewhere, there will be a collection of classic Lotus road cars such as the 1960s legends, the Elan and Europa, the iconic 1970s Elite and Esprit, the 1980s Excel and Elan (M100) and from the 1990s the Esprit V8 and the Elise S1 derivatives. Classic Team Lotus will also display some of its collection of Lotus Formula One racing cars such as the Type 32B, the world championship winning Types 49B and 72 and from the Ayrton Senna era the Lotus Types 97T and 99T.
There will also be a "Wheel Changing" competition, the latest range of Lotus Merchandise, a funfair with Laser Tagging competition, children's'treasure hunt & face painting, Formula One and Racing Simulators, a farmers market, jazz band and full refreshments.
Location: Group Lotus Plc, Hethel (near Wymondham), Norfolk, NR14 8EZ
Gates Open at 10am and finishes at 5pm.
Admission Price: £15 per car (up to 4 adults, £5 per additional adult) and admission for
children under 16 is free.
Tickets to be purchased in advance via http://www.lotuscarswebstore.co.uk or by contacting the Lotus Open Day Hot-Line on: +44-(0)1953-608190, 608626, 608461 or 608348.
The History of the Lotus Manufacturing at Hethel
In 1966, a foundation stone was laid by Colin Chapman in the presence of Jim Clark, to mark the start of construction of the new Lotus factory at the former Hethel aerodrome, exactly 100 miles of London and just 8 miles from Norwich. Lotus had outgrown its premises at Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire.
Construction of the new factory was swift and by early 1967, the first cars drove off the Hethel assembly line.
In 2000, a brand new manufacturing facility was built at Hethel to build the Lotus Elise S2 family of sportscars and the Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX200 for General Motors. The new manufacturing facility has been further improved over the last seven years and is widely accepted as being the finest niche vehicle manufacturing facility in the world.
Statistics about the Lotus Factory at Hethel UK
The operational site covers around 50 acres excluding the 2.5-mile test track
74,205 cars have been built at Hethel from 1967 to 31 July 2007 including 31,300 in the last 10 years
List of production cars, excluding direct derivatives) manufactured at Hethel:
Lotus Elan + 2
Lotus Omega / Carlton
Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220
And several hundred prototypes, concepts and research vehicles for Lotus and many other car
companies around the world.
1966 – Foundation Stone laid on 17th July 1966
1967 – First car to drive off the assembly line
2007 – 40th Anniversary of Lotus Manufacturing at Hethel on 23rd September 2007
About Group Lotus plc:
The main operating subsidiary of Group Lotus plc is Lotus Cars Ltd, which has two operating divisions
– Lotus Engineering and Lotus Cars. Lotus Engineering is an internationally recognised automotive
engineering consultancy based in Norfolk, UK. Its global facilities include those in Michigan, USA and
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and offices in Germany and China. Lotus Engineering provides
comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers,
offering a full engineering service from initial concept and project design through development and
integration of the complete vehicle to meet all worldwide markets and customers to full production.
This includes third party 'niche vehicle' engineering and manufacture worldwide. Lotus Cars builds and
sells Lotus sports cars, Elise, Exige and Europa for global sale.