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There is a Formula One team called Lotus. It has also been known as Toleman, Benetton and Renault. There was a team called Lotus which is now called Caterham. Then there is Lotus, a small maker of sports cars which once was associated with Team Lotus and a period of Formula One excellence which has never been rivalled.
Actual Lotus and Pretend Lotus are different things, but Actual Lotus strikes a chord in many an enthusiast's heart. Its close associate, Team Lotus, gave us World Champions like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti.
Lotus gave Nigel Mansell his start in F1 and John Surtees and Sir Jackie Stewart. Jackie Stewart in an F1 Lotus? It was in the non-Championship Rand GP at Kyalami on 12th December, 1964. Jackie set pole and a half-shaft snapped at the start. He never again drove a Lotus, but the fact remains that his first F1 drive was for Team Lotus.
On 1st November, 1952, an advertisement appeared in Motor Sport magazine offering people the chance to buy a Lotus Mk VI kit car, a special builder had become a manufacturer in a small way. That is why Lotus was the featured marque at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed.
I wonder whether the company will be around to celebrate its 61st birthday. Lotus is effectively bust. The company is laying off workers and has disaffected suppliers. If you cannot pay your suppliers, you cannot make cars.
According to a distinguished journalist of my acquaintance, the company made just two cars in May, you cannot make cars if you do not pay your suppliers. Even if my friend has been misinformed, that story is in the air.
A well-placed source has told me that even were I to place an order for an Evora (yes, please, pretty please) I could not have one because the suppliers have not been paid.
Lotus was the featured marque at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. Because of all the media attention, this honour receives, there is a cost: GBP 600,000. For such as Ford, Audi or Honda, this is small change from the PR and advertising budget. For a company which cannot pay its suppliers, this is a serious sum.
For the Festival, Gerry Judah created one of his best giant sculptures. The cost, however, was GBP 1.75 million. That is two and a half million quid before we get to the Lotus grandstand and the Lotus corporate hospitality. Even when you are bust, you have to have corporate hospitality.
A guy I knew, a top television executive and a weak member of my pub quiz team, once told me, 'There are three things that tell you when a company is in trouble: 'They build a new atrium, buy a helicopter and commission a new logo.'
The Goodwood splurge typifies the approach of its last CEO, Dany Bahar, who has been sacked. It is bullshit, like some other of Bahar's schemes and announcements. Were I a cynic I would say that the presence at Goodwood was typical of a thimble-rigger.
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