The Frankfurt Motor Show
1991 Lotus M200 Speedster fully operational concept car
The Lotus marque has never rested upon its legendarily rich history, and a continuing series of forward-thinking concept cars has demonstrated Hethel's wide-ranging capabilities in all aspects of automotive engineering. The Lotus M200 concept car was first presented, as a Speedster version of the Lotus Elan M100, at the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1991. This striking little car was also featured at such other major International exhibitions as the Geneva Salon de l'Automobile, in 1992.
The new backbone-chassised Type 100 Elan aroused immediate controversy as the first front-wheel drive Lotus. Styled by Peter Stevens the distinctive new body shape proved very effective aerodynamically, and the new model when launched at the 1989 London Motor Fair won an important award from the British Design Council and by 1992 more than 3,800 had been built and sold.
In the M200 offered here, designer/stylist Julian Thompson whose subsequent Lotus Elise model would become a true best seller produced a most exciting prospect with a simple airstream deflector instead of true windscreen, individual driver and passenger cockpit openings, a large rear wing and fared-in headlight positions replacing the retractable style of the baseline production model.
Julian Thompson fashioned this engaging little concept car as a niche special "for real enthusiasts" but his intention was as much "to show management how we could move on from the Elan". His windscreen inspiration came from the Ferrari 312B Formula 1 car design, while the M200 design also explored the use of bigger wheels, but the project lapsed after its original inception in 1988-89 and no work was done to complete it for some eighteen months. Suddenly, as Mr Thompson confided to Olav Glasius: "...a show car was needed in a hurry!". This M200 was then modeled upon the basis of "...a blue Lotus Elan returned by a customer..." which subsequently caused the Lotus company a degree of heartburn when it was realized that here was a much-publicised little show car built upon the core of a car they did not own...
This little local difficulty was corrected as David Brisbourne designed the startling interior while Russell Carr detailed the exterior treatment. The interior fabric was chosen from "a lady's swimsuit" and Julian Thompson also admitted that the first time they actually tried the M200 it had been so hastily assembled that "...the instant we used the brakes they fell off!".
The car was subsequently loaned by Lotus to the British Automobile Association (AA) as an attention-grabbing promotional and marketing showpiece, during which period it suffered some indignity and began to deteriorate cosmetically.
The Lotus M200 was eventually offered for sale by auction at Silverstone where it was bought by Lotus dealer Paul Matty. Olav Glasius really enjoyed the artistry, ingenuity and wit embodied within this concept car design and he was eventually able to acquire it from Mr Matty.
He then commissioned Ken and Neil Myers in England to restore and repaint this car to original order, as now offered here. The Myers'magic completed it as a running car, and the finished machine was UK road registered. It is now offered here as a uniquely distinctive Lotus two-seater which is certain to turn heads wherever it appears. As the M200 'Concept Vehicle' it promoted Lotus Active rear-steer, engine cam-profile technology Lotus Variable Valve Actuation...and so much more. In the metal and composite the M200 survives today as a beautifully presented and delightful product of its time, a now road-useable concept car of considerable distinction.