Why Chapman Bespoke is right for the times


Last week, Lotus announced a new programme called Chapman Bespoke. It promises to offer greater personalisation and unique options, right up to the production of one-off cars, for your Lotus.

What would Colin Chapman, Lotus’s founder, after whom the scheme is named and whose signature adorns its badge, have thought?

No idea. Never met the bloke. One of my least favourite phrases in motoring hackery is “so and so (company founder] would have approved”.

It’s usually proclaimed definitively at the end of an article to show that a car is a true thoroughbred and that it’s fit to wear the name.

But honestly, how are we to know what WO Bentley or Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce would seriously have thought about the cars that come out of their company’s respective factories today?

Big cliché. Silly phrase. I’ve vowed never to use it so, aside from the occasions where I probably already have, never will.

Anyway, famously, Chapman said things about simplifying cars and adding lightness, which is certainly something he did on cars made for and derived from racing, like the Lotus (now Caterham) 7, which was a path followed by the Lotus Elise after his death.

And given that he sketched out his first cars by hand and built them much the same way, Lotus thinks he would have been into this Bespoke idea. Chapman was also partial, like most entrepreneurs, to making a few quid.

Allowing somebody to paint their Lotus the same colour as their favourite nail polish and finishing the interior with gazelle hide if they’re prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege (Bentley makes an average of £34,000 per car from its Mulliner programme) sounds like the sort of thing that he might have been absolutely fine with too.



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