Wed, May 24, 2017 9:21 AM
Lotus cars have a long and proud history of film and television appearances, helped by their good looks and association with sporty and sophisticated driving.
The Chapman family began making cars in 1948, Lotus founder Colin initially working on them between his duties with the RAF.
It’s probably fair to say that, through their constant presence in Formula 1 for more than 35 years until 1994, Lotus earned a cachet among car fans. This put them up alongside the likes of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Porsche, which had successfully used their participation in motorsport to spread awareness of its standard production cars.
And the glamour associated with F1 also brought Lotus to the attention of many film and TV producers. Here, we present a sample of Lotus cars’ appearances in film and television series - proof that, when producers were looking for a car to take centre-stage, or even just play a supporting role, there was a Lotus just right for the part.
1968 - Lotus Europa - one of the first Lotuses this writer remembers, as I had the car in Matchbox model form! - was used by the character Tara King (played by Linda Thorson) in cult TV series The Avengers. Imcdb.org records the car as having appeared in at least 11 episodes.
1971 - Gumshoe - A white Lotus Europa S2 appeared in this Bafta-nominated film. Starring Albert Finney and Frank Finlay, much of the movie was filmed in Liverpool. Finney, in the title role, played a bingo caller turned private detective.
1977 - The Spy Who Loved Me - It seems only right that the quintessential British spy should at some point in his illustrious career have been rewarded by MI6 with a quintessential British sports car as a company vehicle. Roger Moore drove a Lotus Esprit S1 in the film, and one of its party tricks was that it could be converted into a submarine.
1992 - Honey, I Blew Up The Kid - One scene shows a yellow Lotus Elan Type 100 being driven along a neon-lit strip. A red Lotus Elan was also seen sneaking into the bottom right-hand corner of a shot in the 1994 British film, Shallow Grave, starring Christopher Eccleston, Ewan McGregor and Kerry Fox.
2000-2003 - At Home With The Braithwaites - At least two different Lotus Elise models featured in this comedy-drama series about a Yorkshire family and the changes wrought on their lives when they win £38 million on the lottery. Peter Davidson and Amanda Redman starred.
2007 - National Lampoon’s The Great American Run - This later entry into the National Lampoon film library may have escaped your attention, but it featured a Lotus Esprit in a beautiful shade of blue. The film also featured an array of other classic cars including, fleetingly, a 2005 Lotus Elise.
2010 - Wreckage - This American horror film sees a group of teenagers stranded overnight in a scrapyard where they come up against - and mostly meet a grisly fate at the hands of - a mysterious killer who stalks the site. The Lotus model featured - and it can hardly be missed with its bright yellow paintwork - is a 2006 Exige.
2013 - It’s A Lot - A young rich boy who has led a sheltered life at public school tries to impress a top girl at his cousin’s college - but in the process he wrecks his dad’s Lotus Evora S - and has to raise £20,000 in two weeks to pay for a replacement. The film features Roxanne Pallett, who played Jo Sugden in Emmerdale for four years.
2013 - The Host - Written by the author of the Twilight saga, Stephenie Meyer, this story of a woman who tries to protect her loved ones when the Earth is threatened by an unseen enemy which takes over their bodies and erases their memories. It starred Saoirse Ronan and featured William Hurt in a minor role - but more importantly for us, you couldn’t miss a Lotus Evora with shiny, chrome-effect bodywork in several scenes.
Finally, we had to include one shot of the legendary Seven. Born as a Lotus, this car, of course, now carries a Caterham badge, although it was originally designed by Colin Chapman:
1967-68 - The Prisoner - A contributor to the Imcdb.org website - the database which provided the information for much of this article - reckons that the Lotus Seven was only chosen because the show’s star, Patrick McGoohan, preferred it to the production team’s orginal choice, of a Lotus Elan. The car went on to feature in every episode of the series, causing sales to rocket, and Lotus to scrap its initial plans to quietly stop production of the car.
Can you recall any other memorable screen appearances by Lotus cars? If we’ve missed any, we’d love to hear about them. Share your memories with us via our Facebook page.