Lotus Tinkering Made A Few Boring Cars Much More Interesting

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today, we have reports from Road & Track, Engine Labs and Jon White.

Synergize and add lightness: 5 great Lotus collaborationsRoad & Track

Am I calling the C4 Corvette boring? Well, Lotus had a hand in the ZR-1's engine, which was more exciting than the standard car. And the DeLorean, well.

Colin Chapman knew what he was doing. Throughout his career, Chapman and Lotus were tapped by a long list of marquees to consult on or contribute to the design of a number of memorable automobiles, and his influence endures to this day. But he didn't just make Lotus cars; his engineering firm also worked their magic, particularly in the handling department, on a number of other manufacturers' offerings. Here are five of our favorite Lotus collaborations.

Callaway HH V8: America's Long Lost Indy 500 EngineEngine Labs

A great story about a team trying to build a great engine, with many forces against them.

Designated as the HH V8 in recognition of Hans Hermann's contributions, prototypes of the Callaway engine were making power consistent with the competition when the initial funding dried up.

"The problem with 1984 was that the economy was tanking with both the fuel crisis and the interest rates," Callaway tells EngineLabs. "It became more difficult to raise money, which ultimately fuels engine development."

Seventeen People: A modest tribute to—and deconstruction of—my favorite hour of televisionJon White

OK, it's not my absolute favorite episode of The West Wing, but it's damn close. Although White's piece here makes me like it even more.

The West Wing's faults are glaring in the harsh light of day, but "17 People," having aged tremendously well, remains a knockout. We're given 45 minutes in which there's no Mandy, there's still a Sam, and there's still (for now) a Landingham. At no point does Bartlet affirm Donna's folksy economic centrism. At no point does Toby try to "save" Social Security by cutting it. At no point are we asked to root for Jimmy Smits' or Alan Alda's Broderian distaste of the "tone" of politics. Instead, "17 People" is just Sorkin caught momentarily at peace with the world, and producing a fun hour of too-clever, too-tired characters bouncing off each other.

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