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VX220 or Type 116 is it a real Lotus?


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Hi all! I've just bought a Vauxhall VX220 Turbo and wanted to get opinions!! 

Here's my initial video on it:

My next video will be a summary of overall views as to whether this car is in fact a real Lotus.. Let me know and I'll do another video over the coming weeks. 

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Just love the idea of VX220....I want to own one. 

Is the Lotus Cortina a real Lotus? Jim Clark liked 'em. Is the Lotus Sunbeam a real Lotus? They won the World Championship. Is the Toyota MR2 really a Lotus? Is the front wheel drive Lotus M100 Elan a real Lotus? 

What matters is how do they drive? Lotus have been employed by zillions of companies over the years to add more driver enjoyment to cars. They always succeed, even with the DeLorean, but to what degree with the end product is down to money, politics and a tad of luck.

VX220 is a Vauxhall, be proud it is. The base ingredient is very much Lotus and all the better for it.

Justin 

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Lotus define their cars as those that wear a Lotus badge. VX220's are hilariously fun cars to drive but not a Lotus. 

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1 hour ago, Bibs said:

Lotus define their cars as those that wear a Lotus badge. VX220's are hilariously fun cars to drive but not a Lotus. 

On this occasion @Bibs Lotus is showing that when it wants to be it can be dummer than the backside of a donkey.  The history of the VX220, that actually has its own Lotus Type number, 116, is well know and without it you could argue very strongly that Lotus as we know it today would not still be making cars.  I very much hope that at some time Lotus will have the decency to recognise the car for what it is. As Jonny says, it's more Lotus than many, including the Sunbeam, Carlton etc.  It even had a Lotus designed engine that is better than the crap from Rover in the Elise in my humble opinion.

Alcohol. Sex. Tobacco. Drugs. Chocolate.  Meh! NOTHING in this world is as addictive as an Evora +0. It's not for babies!    

The first guy to ride a bull for fun, was a true hero. The second man to follow him was truly nuts!   

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I really like the K-series Rover engine. Compact and light. Lotus tuned it for 135, 160 and 190. 190 is just brilliant. 

I look forward to one day perhaps owning a VX220, to me a Vauxhall as GM paid Lotus to develop and make it. As opposed to GM money for the M100 which was invested in Lotus Cars Ltd. 

VX220 coachwork is ageing so well, striking design.

Justin 

 

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6 hours ago, Advantage said:

It can be a bit confusing. Pushed to market as a Vauxhall without even a nod towards its slightly more exotic beginnings, yet they used the stereotypical image of a Lotus owner in its advertising campaign. No wonder the car provokes discussion.

 

@C8RKHdoing a VX220 promotional video?

Margate Exotics.

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Yes. Several owners on here including me, and several past owners who moved on to Elise, Exige, Evoras.

1 minute ago, Chillidoggy said:

@C8RKHdoing a VX220 promotional video?

I got paid £12 for that!

Alcohol. Sex. Tobacco. Drugs. Chocolate.  Meh! NOTHING in this world is as addictive as an Evora +0. It's not for babies!    

The first guy to ride a bull for fun, was a true hero. The second man to follow him was truly nuts!   

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Great story there Brent and sheds more light on the background and shenanigans.  I was under the impression though that the 2.2 engine was a Lotus designed engine - of course they may have designed it for other GM models / purposes...

Alcohol. Sex. Tobacco. Drugs. Chocolate.  Meh! NOTHING in this world is as addictive as an Evora +0. It's not for babies!    

The first guy to ride a bull for fun, was a true hero. The second man to follow him was truly nuts!   

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1 minute ago, C8RKH said:

Great story there Brent and sheds more light on the background and shenanigans.  I was under the impression though that the 2.2 engine was a Lotus designed engine - of course they may have designed it for other GM models / purposes...

I don't believe it was Andy. From what this fella told me, it was an Opel engine that was being foisted upon the UK arm and which none of them wanted at that time. For obvious reasons of standardisation within GM Europe, it had been decreed in Detroit that Vauxhall will use it, regardless of their protests and assertions that it would effectively kill sales in one market sector. He went on to say that GM Detroit would behave in an extremely arrogant way with all their subsidiaries in other countries and always insisted they knew best. I think subsequent events from 2008 onwards have shown that not to be the case! :P

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6 hours ago, Spinney said:

Several years ago whilst on an MSA Classic Car run in Italy, I met a retired GM/Vauxhall exec who was considered to be the father of the VX220 and this is what he told me:- 

At the time, he was an executive on the Vauxhall board, responsible for European marketing and found that he was faced with a problem which was peculiar to the British market only. As was common in the day, most UK companies provided cars to their sales people, general managers and junior execs etc and there was usually a fairly strict hierarchy of which car you were offered, depending on where you were in the company food chain. At the lowest level this might be a 1.3L car, progressing on to a 1.6 for sales, a 2L for middle management and a 2.5 or 3L for senior management. Of course, once HMRC cottoned on to the fact they could make a charge for benefit in kind, they chose to use the same levels of progression in engine size as most companies were using, enabling them to set their rates at the same engine size breaks.

As those of you who were around at the time will recall, 2L was one step where if you went above it, you then went into a higher tax bracket for BIK. Up to then everything was working well for the UK manufacturers who produced cars with engines suited to their then main customer, the company fleet market. At Vauxhall, however, things were suddenly thrown into a bit of confusion because, at the behest of Opel, the German arm of GM, management in Detroit started to insist that Vauxhall should use their new 2.2L engine which, as previously said, would be a problem for the UK fleet market and there was every chance the company would suddenly lose out in this sector of lucrative sales. A plan was then devised by the fella I met to still take the 2.2L engine from Germany but create a whole new market sector for Vauxhall and Opel with this engine. He had worked very closely with Lotus during the GM ownership years and they still used them from time to time for various development projects, so he knew them well and thought why not consider something like the Lotus Elise but with the GM 2.2L engine.

Anyhow, he discussed his idea with the Vauxhall board and it was decided he should approach Lotus to see what could be done. He did just that and Lotus were very receptive to his idea, so he had an engine and transmission shipped to Hethel for the development work to begin. Apparently not long afterwards, he received a phone call from Lotus to say they were ready to run the prototype, which turned out to be an S1 Elise with the GM engine and transmission slotted in, so he visited and was the first non Lotus man to try the car around the test track. He was immediately impressed with the car and so discussions continued, to lay down the design parameters for the Vauxhall version of the Elise.

He told me one of his own criteria was that ingress/egress must be improved by lowering the door sills and then Vauxhall stylists worked hand in hand with Lotus to produce a car that whilst recognisably still bore typical Elise styling cues, was a completely different, some might say better, looking car externally. Vauxhall apparently helped Lotus with several of their then quality issues during production, which obviously bore fruit for the Elise as well as the VX220. Interestingly, he told me that he and GM were then blindsided by Lotus shortly after announcing their S2 Elise which included many of the improvements he had insisted upon for the VX. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

One interesting footnote to this is that the man concerned is an avid collector of cars, possessing many old Vauxhalls, a Bentley or 2 and an Aston Martin DB2/4, so naturally enough I asked if he had a VX220 in his collection, since he was the main guiding light for the cars existence in the first place. Rather sheepishly he said errr no, I actually have an S1 Elise with the Rover engine!!! :shock::yes:

Lovely post and story. Thanks for this and love the final line re: S1 Elise (but then I would).

If I recall correctly, there was a bit of ding-dong between Lotus and GM about the S2 Elise, which effectively used the mods that GM had paid for on the chassis to aid egress/access (as you mention). I think production was halted for quite some time and there was a significant lag between the S1 Elise production ending and S2 coming on-stream. Rumour was GM lawyers got involved...…...I do wonder if some money had to change hands for the S2 Elise to continue. 

Shades of Mr Chapman and Essex Petroleum, who paid for the Esprit new chassis for the first Turbo's...…...then Lotus used it for the S3. Brilliant!

Justin

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1 hour ago, Bravo73 said:

Which, ironically, wasn’t going to be a Lotus at all. It was meant to be a Proton. 

I would like to drive a Europa, which indeed was designed for the parent company who then rather dumped it on Hethel and told them to sell it in Europe badged as a Lotus. One dealer not far from me basically refused to sell them unless someone begged to have one, so some have a fairly low opinion of them. 

A curio that I would like to experience.

Justin

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36 minutes ago, jep said:

Lovely post and story. Thanks for this and love the final line re: S1 Elise (but then I would).

If I recall correctly, there was a bit of ding-dong between Lotus and GM about the S2 Elise, which effectively used the mods that GM had paid for on the chassis to aid egress/access (as you mention). I think production was halted for quite some time and there was a significant lag between the S1 Elise production ending and S2 coming on-stream. Rumour was GM lawyers got involved...…...I do wonder if some money had to change hands for the S2 Elise to continue. 

Shades of Mr Chapman and Essex Petroleum, who paid for the Esprit new chassis for the first Turbo's...…...then Lotus used it for the S3. Brilliant!

Justin

That was largely true about GM being highly pissed off Lotus used the chassis improvements insisted upon for the VX220. I was told by the fella that announcement of the S2 Elise came as a complete surprise to him and GM and he felt Lotus had been rather underhanded in not saying anything about it. 
Not sure if any money would have changed hands but I don’t doubt GM lawyers probably fired some broadsides in Lotus direction. Bear in mind that Vauxhall still needed Lotus to manufacture the VX220 for them. 

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12 minutes ago, Spinney said:

That was largely true about GM being highly pissed off Lotus used the chassis improvements insisted upon for the VX220. I was told by the fella that announcement of the S2 Elise came as a complete surprise to him and GM and he felt Lotus had been rather underhanded in not saying anything about it. 
Not sure if any money would have changed hands but I don’t doubt GM lawyers probably fired some broadsides in Lotus direction. Bear in mind that Vauxhall still needed Lotus to manufacture the VX220 for them. 

Well, they spent about £50M on development costs for the S2 Elise, you have got to wonder where they spent that, as the S1 Elise was developed for about £5M (which is just bonkers cheap). Julian Thomson has been quoted as saying he has no idea how they spent so much on the S2.

I don't know, just an interesting bit of Lotus history. Good point on VX220 production.

Justin 

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