The spirit of Colin Chapman died today, as a creepy green dude watched on. Today's E-gasmic unveiling of the 2015 Lotus Elise, 2014 Lotus Elan, Elite, Esprit and Eterne only revealed that yes, the old Lotus is dead.
Lotus was created in the early 1950s by engineer Colin Chapman to build road cars and racing machines designed to conform to the mantra: simplify, then add lightness. In the years following the company faithful churned out cars that did just that. The number of models were few, the number of variations many.
The company changed hands to GM in the mid-1980s, which explains cars like the Lotus Carlton, Vauxhall VX220, and "tuned by Lotus" Isuzu Impulse. In the early 1990s, a group made up of European businessmen purchased the company before selling off most of it to Malaysian car company Proton.
The last few years have seen the introduction of a better Elise, a sexy Exige, and a much-admired Evora. All these cars generally fit into the original Lotus vision, and apparently gave the company enough room to do what they did today, which is debut five new models covering a range of classes.
Is this what we're getting, the car world equivalent of Stephen Baldwin?. Instead of hip, cool Alec we've got a bloated American actor with no talent who struggles with his weight. He's the anti-thesis of Colin Chapman in every way, even if both have ties to cocaine.
He's D-list and that's exactly where Lotus is going, because instead of being the lovable scamp comparable to no one they're now having to compete with the Ferraris, the Lamborghinis, the Porsches, and McLarens of the world.
Given what Lotus has done in the past there's no reason to believe every single one of these cars can't be great. And the new Elise appears, at least, like it won't completely offend the sensibilities of current Lotus owners.
But let's just face reality. The simple lightweight cars that were the last pure expression of classic performance car thinking are gone. The era of high tech, extraordinarily fast cars are here; cars built for the Stephen Baldwins of the world, not the Graham Hills.