British based Lotus Engineering Ltd was founded in 1952 by Colin Chapman (Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman), a graduate of University College, London. Team Lotus split off from Lotus Engineering in 1954, was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994.
The company enjoyed many years of racing and sales success, but by 1980 the company was in serious financial trouble. Production plummeted from 1,200 units per year to a just 383. Part of the problem was the state of the economy, as the world was in the middle of an economic recession. Sales in the United States had slipped.
The Lotus Eclat was in production from 1974 through 1982 and was a front engine, rear wheel drive vehicle. It had a design based on the Lotus Elite but had a fastback body style which offered more practicality with storage in the trunk. The Lotus Excel, introduced in 1982, was based on the Lotus Eclat and remained in production until 1992. Oliver Winterbottom had been instrumental in creating the design. Winterbottom would later produce many other wedge-shaped designs for TVR.
At this point in history, Lotus and Toyota were forging a working relationship. Lotus assisted with the engineering work on the Supra. Toyota became a major shareholder in Lotus, later giving up their holding when General Motors bought Lotus. The relationship between Toyota and Lotus led to Toyota providing mechanical components for Lotus cars. In the beginning, the Excel was fitted with the W58 manual transmission, alloy wheels, rear differential, drive-shafts, and door handles from the Supra Mark II. Power was from a Slant Four 2.2-liter dual overhead cam unit rated at 160 horsepower.
During the cars ten years of production, it received two major upgrades. The first was in 1985 with the Excel SE, which came with an upgraded engine, rated at 180 horsepower. Other changes included to the bumpers, wings and a new dashboard. The following year, the Excel SA received an automatic gearbox.
In 1989, another facelift occurred including Citroen-derived mirrors and 15-inch OZ alloy wheels.
Between 1485 and 2500 examples of the Lotus Excel were produced. The Excel was never officially exported to the United States, though 1 example may have been built to USA specification.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2012
Period Advertisement for The New Lotus Excel
We could describe the beauty of the new Lotus Excel in glowing terms. We could tempt you with its air of prestige and exclusivity. We could talk about pride of ownership.
However, we believe that the bare facts on the new Lotus Excel speak for themselves.
A 2.2 litre 16-valve Lotus engine with a smooth five-speed gearbox take you to 60 mph in just seven seconds. A top speed of 134 mph. All independent front and rear suspension. Light but positive steering. Wind-cheating corrosion-proof bodywork, on a galvanized steel backbone chassis (guaranteed 5 years). Impeccable manners in traffic.
The superlatives we'll leave to you. When you've driven the new Lotus Excel, we feel confident you won't be lost for words.Source - Lotus