909 V8 History

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 Rudd 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 on the right (click on the picture for an extra large detailed view). 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!

Here's Tony 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

Here's the prototype plenum for the type 909 V8, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the LT5 V8 from the Corvette ZR-1 induction system - but then Lotus designed 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 (click on the picture for a large photo of the Etna from Ital Design)

So most people credit the Esprit restyling completed in 1987 to Peter Stevens, who famously went on to pen the curves of the McLaren F1 road car ......

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 2006