Hethel, Norfolk - When Lotus builds a limited-edition commemorative special, it has a long and illustrious heritage to draw on.
As with this one, the Exige Cup 430 Type 25, a tribute to one of the most successful and influential Formula One cars of its time. The Lotus Type 25 was the first Grand Prix car to have a stressed-skin monocoque body, and with it Lotus founder Colin Chapman changed the evolution of racing cars forever.
Driven by some of the greatest names in racing, including Jim Clark and Mike Hailwood, it won three races in its debut season, 1962, and dominated the 1963, winning seven out of 10 races and giving Chapman his first Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles.
Now, 55 years on, just 25 examples of this very special Exige will be built, at £110 000 (R1.86 million) each ex works, with the same 320kW/440Nm, 3.5-litre supercharged V6 and six-speed ‘open gate’ manual box as the standard 430 Cup, announced late in 2017, but with special trim and features making it even lighter, quicker and more agile - the maker quotes 0-100km/h in 3.3 seconds 290km/h flat out.
They’ll be finished in either metallic Lotus Green or Old English white with contrasting pinstripes on the front splitter, front access panel, roof panel and rear wing, and a special decal on each rear buttress.
A special carbon-fibre front splitter with trailing lip smooths airflow under the car, new curtain elements move air into the wheel-wells to reduce turbulence generated by the front wheels while large cut-out sections behind the rear wheels reduce wheel arch pressure, boosting downforce to as much as 220kg.
High-gloss visible weave carbon-fibre components include the front splitter, front clam, air blades, special skirts, the rear deck lid, straight-cut wing and diffuser surround - and another 10kg is saved by fitting an all-titanium exhaust system in place of the standard stainless-steel plumbing.
The Type 25 has Nitron dampers adjustable for low and high-speed compression damping as well as rebound damping, with Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, and four-piston AP Racing brake callipers inside ultra-lightweight, fully machined, forged aluminium wheels shod with 215/45 ZR17 front and 285/30 ZR18 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
A variable traction control function, linked directly to the ECU and active only with ESP switched off, is operated by a six-position rotary switch on the steering column, five pre-set traction levels as well as “off”, displayed in the instrument cluster.
Each car will be trimmed by the bespoke Lotus Exclusive shop with Lotus’ own carbon-fibre racing seats, trimmed in black alcantara synthetic suede with contrast double stitching, body-colour insets and special stripes in the head restraints and backrests.
There’ll be more contrast stitching on the door panels and face-level vents, and body-colour trim elements on the centres console and centre stacks, with carbon-fibre dashboard insets and instrument binnacle cover. And finally, in a nod to the original Lotus 25, each car will have a wooden gear-shift knob.
Each car will come with a numbered certificate of authenticity, and a matching plaque on the dashboard, as well as hardcover copy of Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion by Eric Dymock, signed by Clive Chapman and Bob Dance, who was Jim Clark’s mechanic during his Formula One career.
Owners will have the choice to either have their car delivered or to collect it from the Hethel works, where they’ll have a guided tour of the production line and the Classic Team Lotus workshop.
The only option offered is a choice of colours for the side mirror housings, although you can opt, at no extra cost, to leave out the air conditioning, stereo system and carpets, which will reduce kerb weight by seven kilograms to just 1090kg.