Submitted by James Tworow ( @Sherlock )
I've always admired Colin Chapman, founder of the Lotus car company. He wasone of many people starting small British sports car manufacturers in the 1950s and1960s, companies who realized that not all aspiring sports car owners could afford thefuel bills associated with many cars of the period. They used small engines from avariety of sources and usually built up their own chassis. Lotus seemed to get theformula right, being known for their exceptional handling even with the early cars. Overthe years the majority of the companies went out of business – only TVR has stayed inconstant production. But Lotus is the company that rose above the crowd and becamesuccessful and well known. Chapman retained full control of the company right up to hisuntimely death in the early 1980s. Since then there has been a series of different ownersbut the company has done well.
The two cars that I admire the most are the Seven and the Elise. Chapman createdthe Seven for the 1957 model year and it still lasts to this day, now being sold byCaterham Cars. The Elise came out in 1994, years after his death, yet is considered todayto be the spiritual successor of the Seven.
If I ever do well playing the financial markets there is a spot reserved in my carcollection for a Seven. I've always admired them and think that they are good looking intheir own way, despite the knocks against them. It is a very functional design – onlywhat you absolutely need. It is also a very tiny car with little between you and the road, Idon't know if I would want to be in a road accident in one. But on the plus side I hearthey handle exceptionally well compared to most other sports cars, maybe that will helpme keep out of an accident in the first place. Also I don't care how much power a car hasas long as it can keep up with traffic on the freeway. Besides the real mark of a sportscar is how well it performs on a nice twisty stretch of side highway. Who needs the bighorsepower anyway?
I have never had the opportunity to drive or even be a passenger in a Seven butI've seen a few in the wild. I recall a number of years ago when wandering down themain drag in Jasper, Alberta seeing one parked on the street. This was before my fullBritish car indoctrination but even then it impressed me enough to still stick in mymemory bank. And then about a year back I saw a Seven on highway 26 nearCollingwood, Ontario.
But the encounter I recall the most was in downtown Calgary, Alberta in 1998.After some job prospecting I was walking back to my car and spied a very nice Seven ina small parking lot. I immediately was drawn over by the mere presence of it and at thesame time another man stopped by and started chatting. It turned out he was a formerLotusElanowner. Wehadagreatfive-minutechatandthenpartedourways,alittlemore enriched that day.
But if those mutual funds work out phenomenally well my absolute dream car isthe Elise. Ever since I first saw pictures of it in car magazines I was in love. And thenwhen I read rave reviews from journalists testing it that just synched the deal. For asmall, not really all that powerful, sports car it is fast and handles like a dream. At leastthat's the impressions I get from everything I read. And as most exotic cars punish in thefuel economy class, the Elise gets better fuel mileage than many family cars. For obviousreasons I've never seen one, as it was never officially sold over here. Although, a numberof them have been sold in the United States by private importers – I wonder if any ofthose have ended up in Canada?
Let everyone dream about their Ferraris and Lamborghinis, I'll just keep dreamingabout my future Lotuses. I would be happy to own either one during my lifetime. TheSeven is the more likely candidate being more readily available and much moreaffordable. But if I ever make the big bucks ... someday ... by the year 2011 I can gooverseas, buy an early model Elise and import it into Canada (the 15-year foreignimportation rule).
Well anyway back to the real world, I'll just keep dreaming.