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Lotus Elite

The wedgy design

The way cars express their dynamism — the unique quality they have as products that sit in size between the buildings that accommodate us at home and work, and the furniture within them — was, until about 1970, mostly evident in their rear-wheel drive proportions that shifted visual mass rearwards (as if the body was being left behind by the wheels) and in swooping forms that suggested having been shaped by the passing air. In this they stepped directly from the futurist sculptures epitomised by Boccioni’s visually moving figurine: Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.  

But then came 'wedge design', designs that took key surfaces and graphics and the rectangle that is the car, and triangulated it to appear dart-like and leaning into the direction of travel. Visually the wedge design was something clearly dynamic, even if its forms were no longer fluidic nor its proportions classically rear-wheel drive. 

The 1974 Lotus Elite was one of the most wedgy of wedge-type designs: pop-up lights enabling a low nose that slants upwards to the rear with simple sheer surfaces and key lines all working to the near full height of the car at it its shooting-brake rear. A gloriously simple, strong, and modernist statement of a dynamic design — and an exemplar of wedge design.