Pay attention, because the latest merger of small British sports-car companies is a bit confusing. Caterham Cars, which builds sports cars based on Colin Chapman’s legendary Lotus Seven, has been bought by Team Lotus Enterprise.
Despite the similar name, TLE is not the company responsible for the Elise and Exige (or, at one time, the Seven itself), but rather a U.K. holding company that owns the Team Lotus Formula 1 team. Confusingly enough, Group Lotus (which does build the Lotus sports cars) also fields a Formula 1 team, under the name Lotus Renault GP. And, of course, the Caterham Seven is based on the Lotus Seven design from the 1950s. Still with us?
Caterham and TLE say the move will allow the former to continue selling variants of the Seven sports car, to expand the car’s market penetration worldwide, and to develop new models following the famous strategy of “adding lightness.” There may also be some kind of connection between the race team and the road cars at a later date. Recent debuts from Caterham include the extreme SP/300.R track machine and the Europe-only Caterham Seven Supersport.
To celebrate the move, Caterham will equip a limited number of cars (25 for the U.K. and another 25 for export markets) with the Team Lotus upgrade package shown here. The £3000 (about $5000) option includes the green-and-yellow paint scheme from Lotus racers of yore, a dashboard plaque bearing the signatures of Team Lotus Formula 1 drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, and a book on the history of the Seven sports car. Buyers also get a tour of the Team Lotus Formula 1 factory in Norfolk, England.