With a pedigree and heritage like no other, Lotus has unveiled two unique Celebration cars, the Exige Type 49 and Type 79, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 to pay homage to some of the most recognisable racers in the British brand’s history and its 70th birthday. They are a fitting tribute to one of the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of Lotus’ founder.
In 1948 Colin Chapman built his first competition car, in a small London lockup garage, following his own theories for improved performance. He formed Lotus in 1952, and from there the company continued to innovate in both road and race engineering. Changing the very nature and intent of car design forever, Chapman was at the vanguard of a new way of thinking and his concepts are as relevant today as they were 70 years ago.
In addition to 2018 marking the anniversary of Lotus’ birth, it’s a milestone for two historic racers. With the two one-off cars containing the marque’s DNA, the Exige Type 49 marks the 50 years since Graham Hill clinched both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship in the Lotus Type 49, while the Exige Type 79 salutes the 40 years since Mario Andretti won his World Championship, and Lotus the Constructors’ Championship, in the Lotus Type 79.
Far from being just for show, the Exige Type 49 and Type 79 Celebration cars by Lotus Exclusive pack phenomenal performance into one of the all-time great chassis designs. Based on the wildest-ever incarnation of the Exige the Cup 430, the Type 49 and Type 79 set the fastest lap time for a road car around Lotus’ hallowed Hethel test track, covering the 2.2 miles in just 1 minute and 24.8 seconds.
Both the one-off Celebration Exige Type 49 and Type 79 at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed have been curated by Lotus Exclusive to provide a bespoke yet tasteful interpretation of the marque’s two iconic racecars. Inspired by the famous racing colours schemes of their namesakes, they connect the brand to its past but anchor it to the present, with the formidable Exige Cup 430.
Respectively finished in solid red and motorsport black, the Type 49 and Type 79 augment subtle but sharp contrasting pinstripes on the front splitters, front access panels, bargeboards, roof panels and rear wings in Championship Gold. Comprehensively composite in nature, both incorporate carbon-fibre front splitters, air curtains, front access panels, side intakes, hard-top roof panels, lightweight full tailgate panels, straight rear wings and rear diffuser finishers into their design. Ultra-lightweight gold-painted wheels with diamond-cut rims, plus red brake callipers, seal their appeal along with unique Type decals on each rear buttress.
Inside, each car’s racing colours are referenced, with Lotus’ in-house manufactured carbon race seats trimmed in black Alcantara, and finished with colour-keyed red and gold, or black and gold, contrast double stitching. This is echoed by the door panels and face-level vents, transmission console, and complemented by the cabin’s anodised aluminium and carbon fibre elements, including door sills and an instrument binnacle cover. Topping off Lotus’ acclaimed open-gate manual gearbox, designed specifically for fast and fluid shifts, is a wooden gearknob.