<< Back to Robb Report, May 2013

Design Portfolio: Petal to the Metal

  • Robert Ross

1958 Lotus Type 15
Lotus founder Colin Chapman established the company’s legacy by building cars according to his maxim, “To add speed, add lightness.” Instead of developing high-horsepower engines, Lotus focused on featherweight chassis and aerodynamic forms—for its Grand Prix and Formula 1 racecars and for its road cars, including the Elite (1957–63) and the Elan (1962–75), the latter of which inspired the Mazda Miata.

The Lotus Type 15 was a more potent version of the earlier Lotus Eleven, yet it was still exceptionally light. The car was powered by a 2-liter Coventry Climax inline-4 engine mounted in a tube frame. Lotus left the curvaceous aluminum body of the example shown here unpainted to further reduce the car’s weight, which is less than 1,000 pounds. The high power-to-weight ratio and slippery shape enabled the car to reach 140 mph and rival more imposing competitors. Two years after the Type 15, the company produced the Type 19, a mid-engine racer that signaled the demise of front-engine competition cars.

Read Next Article >>
The nearly 1,000 cc motorcycles draw inspiration from Yamaha’s seven-figure MotoGP race bike…
In both design and performance, the new S-Class Coupes branch out from Mercedes’s historically...
The sedan is set to compete with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A3…
Photo by Daylight Studio Snc
A century of quintessentially Italian carmaking and motorsports…
The four new models combine retro styling with modern technology…
The H2R has an approximately 300 hp engine, the most powerful on the market...
Sitting behind the wheel of this $280,225 top-down roadster incites a flurry of emotions…
Photo by Benedict Campbell
The Screamin’ Eagle 110 motor churns out 115 ft lbs of torque…
Photo by Max Earey
The population of China—which at last count included 2.8 million millionaires and 315 billionaires—...
From November 1 through 11, some of the world’s most elite vehicles will compete for the prize…