The Lotus Story

Lotus Mark V1

Picture of the Lotus Mark V1

After cutting his teeth building cars for racing and trials, Colin Chapman finally brought out a production car in 1952 – the Mark V1. This stuck closely to Chapman's design ethos; he believed that sporting cars should be as light as humanly possible, and that sheer brute power could always be overcome by rapid acceleration and nimbleness. The Mark V1 had these in abundance.

The car was built around a lightweight spaceframe which weighed a mere 24 kg and it was sold as a kit (there were, in those days, tax advantages in this) and he would provide either the basic chassis or parts for a full car. Customers were free to specify their own designs and Chapman was even happy to modify their own components to fit the car.

The basic Mark V1 was designed on the venerable Ford Prefect; not the most exciting car perhaps but nevertheless the 1172 cc side valve powerplant, pushing out a mere 50 brake horsepower was still up to the job of taking such a lightweight vehicle up to more than 90 mph. Engine mountings were provided for more powerful engines if required, such as the 1500 cc Ford Consul engine; this gave buyers who wanted to race their cars the ability to do so in several different engine classes, which was a major selling point.

The major points in favour of the Prefect engine were economy, ease of maintenance and ready availability of spare parts.

The body was made from aluminium, again for lightness, and the car accelerated well considering it's small engine, with nought to 50 in standard trim within 15 seconds – again not terribly fast but extremely exhillarating to drive in such a small and nimble vehicle.

the Mark six became a popular vehicle for amateur races and a frequent sight on racetracks where it developed a reputation for beating much more expensive cars with larger engines, thanks, to a large degree, to it's excellent cornering and acceleration from low speeds. Chapman's skills with suspension systems were legendary and the excellent roadholding of this car meant that corners could be taken at higher speeds and with more confidence than many of the competitors' cars could achieve.

Chapman was always prepared to supply more highly tuned engines and other special parts to increase performance and allow even better handling and roadholding and this car established his company as a reliable manufacturer of lightweight, fast, and inexpensive cars that handled superbly.

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