The emotive rationalist
In the pantheon of emotive sports-car brands Lotus sits in a unique field of one as the engineer’s emotive choice. A Lotus is not the rationalist German sports-car, nor the emotive Italian sports car, yet neither does it just sit evenly between the two. The Esprit defined this quixotic quality with a reduced yet distinctive form that made the Maserati Merak seem slightly whimsical and a Porsche 928 a bit austere. Its simple purity was at once both the most striking singular statement as if an object of art, and also apparently the logical result of its engineering purity — perhaps unsurprisingly given the nature of its two fathers, two of the most powerful figures defining the engineering and design of sports cars in the late-mid twentieth century.
Technically the Espirt stepped from race car design engineer, and Lotus founder, Colin Chapman's defining reductionist design philosophy. Aesthetically it came from sports car design doyen Giorgetto Guigiaro at the peak of his creative powers as he set out the clean sheer surfaces of seventies car design.
Being from an island celebrated for technical innovation and artistic expression (but that allows design to falls down the gap between), the emotive rationalism of the Lotus Esprit speaks to its British identity too.
Will, should — can even — this “emotive rationalism” of Lotus stay with the brand going forwards? Surely this quixotic design identity is more relevant to the times than ever before.