Were it not for the "oil crisis" of the 1970s and rising petrol prices, the Lotus Esprit would have gained the V8 engine that its chassis was originally designed to accommodate and, indeed, an in-house designed V8, derived from a doubling up of the slant 4 cylinder 900 series, was developed and reached the test stage but never put into production
The story of the Lotus designed V8 is told (along with many
other notable triumphs, like the famous BRM V16) in Tony Rudd's
autobiography, "It was fun!"
Tony first recalls Project M71 from 1970 (before the inseption of the Esprit program), when Colin Chapman had just moved to East Carleton Manor (his purpose built new home near Hethel & Ketteringham Hall)
Here Colin outlined his plans for the Lotus model line-up in the garden. Quoting "The programme started with the M50 (the new Elite), the M51 (an Elite with a 4 litre V8 and the M52 (a 2+2 version of the 4-seat Elite to be known as the Eclat and later the Excel) . The M53 was the 2+2 with a V8. The M70 'a wedge theme' mid engine Europa replacement with as many common parts with the M50 as possible, including the 2 litre engine. This became the Esprit. The M71 was, of course, a V8-engined Esprit"
The type 909 is pictured above and on the right - I actually laid hands on one of the rare examples of this engine during a visit to the Hethel Lotus factory in the early 90's ..... food for thought!
The photo on the left shows the 909 V8, with a prototype induction plenum for the type, under test in an engine cell
Below Tony Rudd is showing the Duke of Edinburgh a Lotus 907 4 cylinder engine with the induction and cooling modifications that were to be used on the type 909 V8
Not a Lotus engine on the left but the LT5
V8 from the Corvette ZR-1
The induction system bears an uncanny resemblance to the Lotus 909 V8 but then Lotus did a great deal of design development for that too!
The Lotus type 909 V8 was once destined for the ill-fated Lotus Etna, as shown on the cover of Car magazine in 1984 - Giugiaro's services were once again used for the styling of this technically advanced concept car, code name M300, but only one example was ever built and shown at the 1984 Birmingham Motor Show
Here is the 909 V8 installed in the engine bay of the Etna
Well I'd just ask you to look at these two cars
below - the top one is the Etna, designed by Giugiaro and made
public in 1984 and the bottom one is the "Stevens" Esprit launced
in 1987 ....... perhaps the artist was more than heavily
influenced by his peers?!
I don't think it's hard to understand Peter Stevens feelings on meeting Giugiaro after this work on the X180.... as he describes here
''I was nervous of what Giugiaro would think,'' says Lotus chief designer Peter Stevens, reflecting on the reaction to his redesign of the Esprit. ''Charmingly, the first time I met him after its public launch he gave me a big cuddle and said: 'Ahhh, perrr-fect'
Giorgetto is obviously a gentleman, as well as a great designer
With design, "what goes around, comes around"
and so it is with the original Giugaro lines - read more from the motoring press in
The ony exisiting Lotus Etna was sold off at a
Coys auction in 2004
So it was Lot 401 with No Reserve...
Wouldn't it have been
ironic if the 909 V8 wouldn't start and Coys listed it as U/S
or Unservicable... or LOT U/S, which is rumoured to be
the origin of the name of Lotus