We've been waiting a while for official confirmation, and it's finally here: Team Lotus has acquired British sportscar manufacturer Caterham. Both outfits lay claim to Lotus founder Colin Chapman's legacy without any actual support from Lotus Cars itself (with which it is currently embroiled in a naming rights legal dispute) and are now joined under the common ownership of Air Asia chairman Tony Fernandes.
The Malaysian businessman and his partners bought out Caterham's previous owner, Corven Ventures, but have elected to keep Caterham's current managing director Ansar Ali at the helm. The new cash injection ought to help Caterham springboard off the SP/300R to further expand its lineup, while cementing the iconic Seven as a veritable staple of sportscar design.
To celebrate the tie-in, Caterham is preparing to launch a special run of Team Lotus Sevens, of which only 50 examples will be made – 25 for the UK and 25 for overseas. The special package can be added to any variant in the Seven range, bearing the same classic green-and-yellow livery as the team's Formula One racers and a special plaque in the cabin, along with a commemorative book and an invitation to tour the team's factory in England.
Click on to view the special edition in our high-res image gallery below, and follow the jump for a video announcement and press releases on both the acquisition and the special edition.
[Source: Team Lotus]
Team Lotus Enterprise purchases Caterham Cars
Exciting future for British sportscar brand
Team Lotus Enterprise today announces that it has purchased British sportscar maker Caterham Cars.
The acquisition by Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin, the men behind the Team Lotus Formula 1 squad, from the shareholder consortium led by Corven Ventures, will see the legendary lightweight sportscar manufacturer expand its brand profile and product family.
The acquisition of Caterham Cars by Team Lotus Enterprise will not only signal the continued development of the legendary Seven, but will provide Caterham with the platform to apply its philosophy of 'adding lightness' to exciting new models for the 21st Century.
This exciting new era for Caterham will be led by the company's existing management team, headed up by Caterham Cars Managing Director Ansar Ali.
Ansar's direction has been responsible for energising Caterham's export prowess during the last five years, creating the iconic Superlight R500 - Top Gear's Car of the Year for 2008 - and Caterham's first brand new model in 15 years, the stunning SP/300.R sports prototype racer.
As custodians of Colin Chapman's two-seater Seven since 1973, Caterham has been responsible for the evolution of a car originally conceived as a 'fit for purpose' race-car for the road in 1957.
Today, the Seven is arguably the benchmark for the perfect balance between power and intuitive, user-friendly handling, and in spite of its years remains one of the most raced cars in the world. It has also been the inspiration for the recently-launched Caterham-Lola SP/300.R for the race and track day community.
Tony Fernandes said: "Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world. As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence.
"Caterham Cars has remained wholly faithful to Colin Chapman's philosophy of 'less is more', and the DNA of the original Seven can still be traced to the newest additions to Caterham's product offering.
"It is already a successful business with sales across Europe, Japan, Australia and the Middle East, and under the guidance of the existing management team,we now have all the ingredients and the launch pad to further evolve that spirit and take Caterham to new exciting horizons with innovative products and greater global brand exposure."
Caterham Cars, Managing Director, Ansar Ali, added: "This is yet another exciting chapter in the Caterham story. Until now, the resources Caterham has had at its disposal have, naturally, limited the exposure of the Caterham experience and the legendary Seven has had to rely almost entirely on its remarkable reputation and legacy.
"We will remain entirely true to the philosophy that we, as custodians of one man's motoring concept, have protected for nearly 40 years.
"However, the acquisition of the company by Team Lotus Enterprise will allow our existing management team to take Caterham's core spirit of pure driving enjoyment to a hitherto un-served audience.
"While the Seven will now have the global springboard it deserves and will continue to be evolved yet further, we also have the opportunity to expand the Caterham family beyond the Seven and SP/300.R and breathe new life into our uniquely respected brand and mature it into a truly global business."
SPECIAL EDITION SEVEN LAUNCHES NEW CATERHAM CHAPTER
To celebrate its new ownership, iconic British sportscar marque Caterham Cars will build a limited run of Team Lotus Special Edition Sevens.
Just 25 of the Team Lotus upgrade packages, which can be applied to any variant up to the top-of-the-range 263bhp, 150mph Superlight R500, will be built in the UK, with the same number allocated to the Company's thriving export markets.
For an additional £3,000 over the price of your chosen car, the Sevens will be specially-liveried in the famous green and yellow colours of Lotus and will come with a raft of bespoke Team Lotus additions.
Included in the upgrade package will be an invitation to a customised tour of the Team Lotus F1 factory in Hingham, Norfolk.
As custodians of Colin Chapman's original '50s concept for the Seven since 1973, Caterham Cars' current product range remains true to Chapman's philosophy of lightweight, minimalist sportscars.
Outside, the cars will be coated in a Team Lotus-inspired livery and the theme continues in the cockpit, with a plaque carrying the signatures of Team Lotus F1 drivers, Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. Owners will also receive a Seven history book signed by chief designer, Mike Gascoyne.
Caterham managing director, Ansar Ali, said: "Caterham Cars is starting an exciting and hugely important chapter, so it's entirely fitting that we celebrate our opportunity to take Colin Chapman's 'less is more' philosophy global, with this special car.
"Owners of the Special Edition Sevens will have not only a fabulous British sportscar, but a genuine piece of automotive history in their garage."
The current range of Caterham Seven products starts with the Caterham Classic, priced at £13,650.
To place an order, or for more information, visit http://www.caterham.co.uk or call +44 (0)1883 333 700.