Commissioned by a wealthy young Italian noble, the Duca d’Aosta was the ultimate ‘street’ Bizzarrini – but it also marked the end of a turbulent ride for the company that took on Ferrari at its own game, and lost.
Lotus' exciting future range of cars points to an upmarket future...
Lotus is stepping into the past for the names for its upcoming foursome of sports cars - planned for launch from 2014. The move into the price stratosphere mirrors Colin Chapman's plans for the range back in the early '70s, which brought us the blod looking Elite, Eclat and Esprit, so it's only fitting that two of the new cars are named after their distant ancestors.Here are the cars:
Elise: A new 296bhp sports car conceived to battle the Audi TT-S/TT-RS and the Porsche Cayman. The car retained the mid-engined layout of the current Elise, but will cost well over £30,000.
Elan: The Elise's bigger brother is a V6 powered Porsche 911 rival, also mid-engined, and available in coupe and convertible forms. Expect prices to start at £70,000.
Esprit: We new this one was coming thanks to Lotus' sneak preview publicity campaign, but given that it will be powered by the Lexus IS-F engine and will reach a claimed 200mph, it's far faster than we thiought it would be. Expect it to go head to head with the Lamborghini Gallardo and McLaren MP4-12c.
Elite: Previously unveiled as the hybrid assisted £130,000 Aston Martin V8 Vantage rival.
Eterne: A genuine four-door surprise, and one that is hoped to steal sales from the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera.
The big question that remains unanswered is whether Lotus can carry these cars into production, and whether the name is sufficiently strong for buyers to consider one of these Hethel built cars instead of the more traditional options from the grandee manufacturers. If the company's sporting heritage can be emphasised in the coming years, and its motor sport presence makes advances, Lotus may well be strong enough to scalp a few high profile players.