The certificates detail cars' identity and date of production.

British sports car maker Lotus has launched a new Certificate of Provenance program that offers customers the chance to buy their car’s back story. Complete with a summary of the car’s details including the VIN, paint color, and specification, as well as the date of completion, the certificates are designed to give owners an insight into their vehicle’s history.

The certificates, which come in a simple black envelope placed inside a presentation box, are joined by build specification letters that present detailed vehicle information from the Lotus archive. The document offers the owner more in-depth information about the car, including its engine, transmission, standard features, and optional extras.

At the same time, the package also comes with a personalized letter from Lotus Cars’ CEO, Phil Popham. Addressed to the customer, the letter thanks them for their purchase and, according to Lotus, updates them on the transformation taking place at the Hethel-based company.

Other features of the presentation box include a selection of Lotus collectibles, including an aluminum plaque engraved with the owner’s name and information from the Certificate of Provenance. That’s joined by a leather Lotus key ring, a carbon fiber bookmark featuring the brand’s nine most significant motorsport laurels, a presentation tin of four badges, and a Lotus ink pen.

Aimed at owners and their friends or family, who may want to buy them a present, the Certificates of Provenance cost £170 (about $223 at current exchange rates) plus postage for customers in the UK. The certificates are available worldwide, but Lotus says prices may vary depending on the market.

To launch the scheme, Lotus has bestowed a certificate on a 1981 Turbo Esprit with the registration UVF 464X. First registered to Lotus on August 1 of that year, it was allocated to company founder Colin Chapman for his exclusive use. When Chapman’s died just over a year later, in December 1982, it was sold by Lotus and has been in private hands since July 1983. In total, it has covered 11,000 miles (17,702 kilometers) and enjoyed regular maintenance.

Some of those miles were even piled on by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who took the car for a spin on August 5, 1981, just a few days after it was built. After driving it around some private roads, local media quoted Thatcher as saying: “I was tempted to drive away in it.”

Colin Chapman's Lotus Turbo Esprit

With that history and several goodies specified by Chapman, the car is completely unique. It was the first Esprit ever to have power steering, and it’s also fitted with lowered suspension, modified brakes, and BBS Mahle lattice alloy wheels. Now back in the hands of Lotus, the Silver Diamond car with red leather will receive a “sympathetic restoration” before joining the firm’s collection.

Gallery: Colin Chapman's Lotus Turbo Esprit

“What better way to launch our Certificate of Provenance than by showing how it has validated the celebrated history of an iconic and unique Turbo Esprit,” said Phil Popham. “The Lotus archive is a fully cataloged database of information and can provide a wealth of insightful facts on any Lotus car from any era. It’s the perfect gift for a Lotus owner anywhere in the world.”

“[Chapman’s Esprit] is an iconic and unique car from the Lotus back catalog, personalized by our founder Colin Chapman and with a truly fascinating provenance. It deserves its place in our collection and we’re looking forward to showing it off.”

Gallery: Lotus Certificates of Provenance

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LOTUS LAUNCHES NEW CERTIFICATE OF PROVENANCE PROGRAMME BY HONOURING COLIN CHAPMAN’S LAST CAR – NEWLY ACQUIRED BY LOTUS
 
    •    Vehicle provenance documents and highly desirable Lotus collectables now available to Lotus owners worldwide
    •    First recipient is a stunning 1981 Turbo Esprit, authenticated as Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s last ‘company car’
    •    UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also drove it, further increasing its provenance
    •    Recently acquired by Lotus, the Esprit will be restored and join the company’s collection

 

(Hethel, UK – 10 August 2020) – Lotus is launching a new Certificate of Provenance programme, revealing the first recipient as a stunning and celebrated Turbo Esprit that was the final ‘company car’ of Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

The 1981 model, which was also driven by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a visit to Norfolk, has recently been acquired by Lotus. Following a sympathetic restoration it will join the company’s collection.

The new Certificate of Provenance is designed to appeal to owners of Lotus cars from any era. They could buy one for themselves or receive it as a gift from friends or family. It is delivered in a distinctive ‘For The Drivers’ Lotus presentation box, which contains:
    •    The Certificate of Provenance – printed on premium paper, this provides a summary of the car’s details including the VIN, paint colour and specification. The certificate also notes the date on which the car completed its production at the Hethel factory and was passed to the Lotus sales team.
    •    The Build Specification Letter – drafted using detailed vehicle information from the Lotus archive*, this document provides more in-depth information about the car, including its engine, transmission, standard features and optional extras.
    •    A personalised letter to the customer signed by Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, thanking them for their purchase and updating them on the transformation which is taking place at Lotus.

The three documents are presented in a simple black envelope placed inside the presentation box. Beneath it is a selection of Lotus collectables, including an aluminium plaque engraved with the owner’s name and information from the Certificate of Provenance; a leather Lotus keyring; a carbon fibre bookmark featuring the brand’s nine most significant motorsport laurels; a presentation tin of four badges; and a Lotus ink pen.

The Certificate of Provenance is available worldwide through Lotus retailers. In the UK it costs £170 + postage. Prices in other markets may vary.

The 1981 Lotus Turbo Esprit has the UK registration plate UVF 464X and was first registered to Lotus on 1 August of that year. Its own Lotus Certificate of Provenance reveals it was allocated to company founder Colin Chapman for his exclusive use. Following Chapman’s death in December 1982, it was sold by Lotus in July 1983 and has been in private hands ever since, covering just 11,000 miles and regularly maintained.

Finished in metallic Silver Diamond paint with ‘Turbo Esprit’ decals, the factory-fitted optional extras include a full red leather interior, air-conditioning and a Panasonic audio system integrated into the headliner.

However, the specification is completely unique as it has several features added at the request of Chapman to improve his own driving comfort and enjoyment. These include power steering – it was the first Esprit ever to have this technology – plus modified and lowered suspension, modified brakes and BBS Mahle lattice alloy wheels.

On 5 August 1981 the car was used by Chapman to promote the latest Lotus range to the then UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, when she toured Norfolk. After landing at Norwich Airport and talking to Chapman, she sat behind the wheel and drove it round the site’s private roads. Local media reported that she had said: “I was tempted to drive away in it.”

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, commented: “What better way to launch our Certificate of Provenance than by showing how it has validated the celebrated history of an iconic and unique Turbo Esprit. The Lotus archive is a fully catalogued database of information and can provide a wealth of insightful facts on any Lotus car from any era. It’s the perfect gift for a Lotus owner anywhere in the world.”

Speaking about the unique Turbo Esprit, he added: “This is an iconic and unique car from the Lotus back catalogue, personalised by our founder Colin Chapman and with a truly fascinating provenance. It deserves its place in our collection and we’re looking forward to showing it off.”

*subject to availability