Maranello, Zuffenhausen, Woking, Hethel. The longtime home of Lotus belongs right up there with Europe’s leading sports-car capitals. And now it’s slated for a major expansion.
Replete with a fresh cash injection from new parent-company Geely and a pair of newly appointed chief executives, the House That Colin Built is set to gain a new museum, heritage center, customer-experience center, and restaurant for staff and visitors alike.
It’s all part of Lotus’ grand plans for expansion on the occasion of its 70th anniversary – more than 50 years of which it’s been located at Hethel in Norfolk county, situated north by northeast from London and across from the Channel from the Netherlands.
The company’s legendary founder Colin Chapman built the hundred-acre facility in 1966 on the site of a WWII airbase – not unlike what rival firm Aston Martin is doing now in Wales. And it’s served as Lotus’ home base ever since, incorporating its own test track, much like Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in Maranello.
The new two-story Customer Experience Centre will be situated alongside the pit lane of that track, showcasing the company’s latest vehicles, facilitating the commissioning of new builds, and serving as the location from which they’ll be able to take delivery.
The Heritage Centre and museum, meanwhile, will be expanded from the company’s current offices, while incorporating and preserving Chapman’s original office – again, not unlike Enzo Ferrari’s office adjacent to the Fiorano circuit. And the clubhouse that was transformed from the original air-base control tower will be renovated as well.
“The progress of these developments at Hethel demonstrates our commitment to Lotus and its bright future,” said Group Lotus CEO Feng Qingfeng. “Hethel is rightly the centre of the brand and what better place for customers, aspiring owners and staff to experience our values? Hethel is, and will always be, the heart of Lotus and our plans are the next step in readying the site for the next 50 years.”
Noted British architecture firm Feilden+Mawson is handling the project, which will also include additional landscaping and parking expansion. The firm previously worked with Classic Team Lotus on its headquarters on the same site, and performed similar services in building the Caterham Technology facility in nearby Hingham, where the company continues building the Seven originally designed by Chapman and built by Lotus.