Lotus launches certification program

Company also acquires Chapman’s last company car

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This 1981 Lotus Turbo Esprit was Colin Chapman's last company car | Lotus Cars photos

Lotus Cars has launched a Certificate of Provenance program for owners of its cars and has launched the program by acquiring for its own car collection the last “company car” owned by company founder Colin Chapman.

The 1981 Turbo Esprit that Chapman used as his company car, and that later was driven by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has been acquired and is being restored by the automaker.  It is the first vehicle to receive the new Certificate of Provenance.

Under the program, Lotus owners can purchase such certification or, Lotus notes, it can be given to a car owner by friends or family. Delivered to the recipient is a “For the Drivers” presentation box containing the Certificate of Provenance showing the car’s vehicle identification number, factory paint color and specifications, as well as the production date; a Build Specification Letter with detailed information about the car from the Lotus archive; a personalized letter from Lotus Cars chief executive Phil Popham and various Lotus collectables, including an aluminum plague with the owners name and car information engraved.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher checks out the manual gearbox in Chapman’s Lotus

The cost of certification is £170 ($225) in the UK, though Lotus says the price may vary in other markets.

Regarding Chapman’s own ’81 Turbo Esprit, it was registered on August 1, 1981. Just days later, he greeted Thatcher at the Norwich Airport, where she drove the car and told local media, “I was tempted to drive away in it.”

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Chapman had the car upgraded at the factory with power steering, lowered suspension, modified brakes and BBS Mahle lattice alloy wheels. After his death in December 1982, it was sold by Lotus and has been driven 11,000 miles since by owners, and was recently acquired by the automaker. 

Details on the certification program are available on the Lotus Cars website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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