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For those, like yours truly, who grew up watching F1 racing in the late 1970s and the 1980s, the Lotus racers, draped in the classic black and gold colors of sponsor John Player Special rank as the most memorable. Driven by the likes of such greats as Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Ayrton Senna, they were frequent visitors to the winner’s circle as well as propelling the team to a number of driver and constructor’s championships.
However, since the end of the 1986 season, the famous black and gold livery has been notable by its absence on the F1 circuit. For 2011, that’s set to change. Lotus Racing wants to bring back the famous colors and wants F1 fans to have a hand in the final design.
“We have worked all year to make sure our fans are given unprecedented access to our team,” Lotus Racing marketing boss Silvi Schaumloeffel said. “We are all very excited about the move to a black and gold paint scheme for next season, and we want our fans to help us design the livery that will be racing around the world next year.”
Schaumloeffel also stated that the team will shortly be announcing how fans can take part in the design process, asking them to visit the team’s website www.lotusracing.my for the latest updates. Not only that but the person that is selected to design the final livery will join the team for the new car’s first testing session early next year. “For Lotus and F1 fans, it is the chance of a lifetime to help us take the next step forward in our amazing story in 2011,” said Schaumloffel.
To help celebrate the brand’s return to the pinnacle of motorsports, iconic British sports car maker Lotus has just announced the release of the Exige S Type 72. As the name suggests, it’s inspired by the Type 72 F1 car, which was driven by drivers like Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx, who took it to 20 victories between 1970 and 75, with two Driver’s World Championships (in ’70 and ’72) and three Constructors’ Championships (in 1970, ’72 and ’73).
The Exige S Type 72 isn’t anything particularly different, but its rarity (along with its badass paint scheme and wheels) will make it a collectors item. The base car is an Exige S with a supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder making 220-hp, helping the little exotic to hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
The black painted Exige gets custom highlights like special light weight black and gold wheels (yum, yum), special ProBax sports seats with “Type 72″ embroidered logos and a special badge commemorating one of the original Type 72′s Formula One victories. And with 20 victories, just 20 examples of this limited edition model will be built.
“The Lotus Exige S Type 72 is an evocative sportscar, combining cutting edge handling and performance with the iconic Type 72 color scheme, one of the most famous racing liveries of all time,” says Luke Bennett, Operations Director for Lotus Cars Limited. “The Exige provides an intense driving experience either on road or track and this limited edition is a worthy car to celebrate such a legendary racing car.”
The Exige S Type 72 will get a Sport Pack as standard, which includes items like traction control, twin oil coolers and an adjustable front sway bar.
Pricing for this collectors item starts at £35,995 (or 40,332 Euro), with 20 initial cars being built for Europe. Lotus has confirmed a limited run for Japan, but there is no word on if this model will make its way to North America.
GALLERY: Lotus Exige S Type 72
Official release after the jump:
Team Lotus will return to Formula 1 after a 16 year absence… sort of. While two cars scheduled to run in the 2010 season will proudly wear the Lotus name, the team will actually be owned and operated by Litespeed, a U.K.-based Formula 3 team.
Team Lotus rights holder David Hunt has allowed the company to use its name, in part due to the many ties Litespeed has with Lotus and its past Formula 1 efforts. Litespeed founders Nino Judge and Steve Kenchington are both former Lotus engineers.
Additionally, former Team Lotus driver Johnny Herbert will be involved in the project as an ambassador for the team and a manager for the drivers.
The new Team Lotus has also announced that vehicle design is being overseen by MGI and its owner Mike Gascoyne, a native of the Lotus stomping grounds in Norfolk.
“Team Lotus is synonymous with great British engineering and F1 innovation… both of which easily demonstrate why ex-Lotus personnel would want to bring this championship-winning name back to the formula,” said Judge in an interview with AutoSport. “Litespeed was born from a similar British background.”
“David Hunt has been the custodian of the name for so many years and we thank him for entrusting us not just with its safeguard but, more importantly, its development in the racing world of tomorrow.”
Team Lotus started in Formula 1 in 1958 after great success in the F2 series. Over the years some of the greatest drivers in motorsports raced for the team including Stirling Moss, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansel, Nelson Piquet, Mika Häkkinen and of course Ayrton Senna. The team won seven World Championships with its last race win coming from Senna in 1987. It continued on into the 1990s but struggled financially and on the track before it pulled from F1 at the end of the 1994 season.