(Hethel, UK – 14 December 2021) – The global Lotus community is saddened to learn that Hazel Chapman, the wife of Colin Chapman and co-founder of Lotus, has died aged 94.
Her contribution to motorsport and the motor industry in the latter half of the 20th century should not be under-estimated. She was a successful racing driver, a shrewd businesswoman and the rock upon which the Lotus foundations – since 1948, when the very first Lotus car was made – were built. Her involvement in the development of the Lotus business was almost without equal at the time, in a world where women so often played second fiddle to their husbands.
Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars, commented: “This is a very sad day for everyone around the world associated with Lotus. Without Hazel Chapman there would be no Lotus. The entire Hethel team, and those working at our facilities around the world, send their sincere condolences and best wishes to the Chapman family.”
Hazel Williams was born on the 21 May 1927 in North London. She met Colin Chapman at a dance in 1944 when he was just 16 and she a few months older. As the couple’s relationship developed, Hazel’s parents allowed Colin to a build what became the first Lotus – the Mark 1 – in the lock-up garage at the back of their house in Hornsey.
Colin gained a commission into the Royal Air Force, so Hazel continued with the building of the Lotus Mark 1 and then the Mark 2. Competition success in races entered by Hazel and Colin resulted in new commissions for their automotive services. With Hazel’s commercial acumen, their first Lotus business was formed on 1 January 1952. It became a limited company later in the year, funded by payment of £25 from Hazel herself.
Hazel and Colin married in 1954 and as the business grew Hazel took a seat on the board of a number of their companies, including Lotus Cars, Team Lotus and Lotus Components.
She was not only an astute businesswoman but took on a matriarchal role within the organisation, the epitome of the phrase ‘Behind every strong man is a stronger woman’. She prided herself of working with almost every Lotus Formula 1 driver including iconic motorsport names such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. She was also a founder of The Dog House women’s motorsport club.
Widowed in 1982, Hazel recognised that Lotus Cars needed new ownership to secure its future and played an instrumental role in its sale. She became a Director of Classic Team Lotus, the Chapman family business which preserves the cars and legacy of the brand’s global racing success.
Hazel maintained a close interest in all things Lotus, for example, she ‘signed off’ the 100,000th Lotus road car in 2018. Tradition dictated that Hazel was always shown the latest Lotus road car prior to it being unveiled to the public. That wonderful custom continued into the modern era, and she viewed the Lotus Evija with her son Clive Chapman two weeks before its debut in July 2019.
All-new mid-engined sports car perfectly embodies ongoing transformation of iconic British sports car manufacturer
Striking design, delivering exotic supercar appeal in sports car segment
Inspiration from Lotus Evija hypercar clear in fluid surfaces and crisp feature lines
Developed on Lotus’ recently announced Sports Car Architecture
Two petrol engines available, including new-to-Lotus 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘i4’ from technical partner AMG
Much-loved and characterful 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from Exige and Evora to feature as ‘First Edition’ range-topper
Manual, automatic and Dual Clutch Transmission to maximise global appeal
Power output from 360 to 400 hp at launch
0-62mph (0-100km/h) in less than 4.5 seconds
Top speed of up to 180mph (290km/h)
Target weight of 1,405kg in its lightest form
Prices will start from under £60,000 (under €72,000)
Q&As with lead exterior designer Daniel Durrant and lead interior design Jon Statham
Each discusses their inspiration and the challenges in creating this thrilling new Lotus sports car
“It’s exceptional and I’m a big fan” said ex-F1 champion after lapping Hethel track
Jenson was a special guest at Hethel premiere of all-new Lotus sports car
Emira would give a lot of supercars a run for their money” says long-time Lotus fan and customer
(Hethel, UK – 27 April 2021) – Lotus has today confirmed the name of its eagerly anticipated all-new sports car will be EMIRA.
The news was confirmed during the Driving Tomorrow global digital conference broadcast. To date it has been known only by its codename, the Lotus Type 131.
Emira means ‘commander’ or ‘leader’ – highly appropriate for this new Lotus sports car
The world debut of Lotus Emira will be on Tuesday 6 July
• Five new versions with enhanced specification to celebrate end of production later this year
• Increases in power and performance, design upgrades and new colours
A New Year and a New Future: New Lotus sports car series confirmed Elise, Exige and Evora embark on final year of production
• New series sports car production confirmed for Hethel, UK
• £100m+ investment into all-new manufacturing facilities
• Further job creation to support increased volumes
• End of production planned for Evora, Exige and Elise in 2021