17-18th October 2009 @ Hethel
The LEF's Factory Frolic got underway on Saturday 17th at Dunston Hall, the Lotus forums come together for a supermeet; Esprit, 2Eleven and Evora with 250 people attending a weekend extravaganza in Norfolk.
Saturday 17th October - Visit the hotel which is about 4 miles from the factory, check in and freshen up ready for a huge fund raising visit to Cromer on the north Norfolk coast where we'll rattle tins and be met by local radio/papers etc.
Dave Walter's V8 needed a bit of assistance on arrival. The O2 Sensor had blown off. Luckily the knowledge and tools in the carpark were there to help out. A European Esprit also needed a little clutch fluid to help out the gearchange. The Esprit community working as one!
After an hour drive through Norfolk and the Esprits arrived in Cromer. Lovely little seaside town.
A few hour spent there, we returned to the hotel for evening grub in our exclusive 250 person marquee for the charity auction, raffle, fun and games. Bar's open 'til late.
The evenings entertainment was in a large marquee, which was very impressive. Plenty of food and drink and an auction and raffle. Bibs again performed like a pro auctioning off items for the Make A Wish charity. Esprit owners proved generous with their bids, hopefully make a few wishes come true. Towards the end of the evening Mike Kimberley was presented with a specially comissioned artwork by Bibs and Tony for all his work with Lotus. Mike also spoke about his time with Lotus and working alongside Colin Chapman. A great night for anyone who like Lotus.
Factory Day Itinerary
Sunday 18th October - En masse 150+ Lotus convoy to the Lotus Factory where we'll enjoy a great day. Events will include; Track 'parade' laps in your car, road drive in an Evora (every person can have a go!), Factory Tours, shop visit, ASO auto jumble, styling talks from Russell Carr/Steve Crijns, technical talks from Rob Savin/Roger Becker, Evora track demonstration laps, Classic Team Lotus cars, Evora development story, Lotus product displays, Lotus Sport and more. Lunch will be included and there will be beauticians on site to offer treatments to those not quite so interested in the cars, a family event! Goodie bags for all attendees and more! – LEF
An early start of 7.30am wasn't something everyone looked forward to, but most got away on time for the short trip to the factory. Getting everyone out of the hotel on on route to the factory proved as difficult as it always does, with groups getting split up, but as far as we were aware, everyone made it there in good time.
With around 40 Lotus' arriving at the factory there was a little queuing to get in, but nothing too bad. A quick flash of the ticket and we were waved through to the large carpark opposite the test track.
This was about the Evora, as everyone was looking forward to a test drive and seeing quite a few as we walked to the tent to sign in only wetted peoples appetites even more. There was an Evora to look over and try out for size, along with an 2Eleven, Elise and Exige, along with the Lotus Sales Truck.
While everyone signed in we took a quick look inside the main tent to see the cars waiting to go out to the dealers for customers. There was a little hanging around while about 100 people signed in for there groups and showed their licences for driving the Evora and filled in forms for the test drive and the parade lap.
Evora Test Drive
Put into Group 5 fo 9 with 10 people in our group, we test drove the Evora first. 6 Evora's were lined up with 6 Lotus employees. The test drive was out on the public roads. A quick blast out of the factory and down to the A11 and back. We're not going to do a big review of the Evora, but lets just say after 15 mins at the wheel of an Evora with only 90 miles on the clock, you can get a good feel for it. Cross an Elise with a 911 and that's what an Evora's like to drive, pretty much where it's aimed at. Time will tell if it's a success.
Classic Team Lotus
Next we walked over to Classic Team Lotus to have a look around the workshop. Plenty to see for F1 fans
Next we were piled into a mini bus and driven to the Styling Building to get a talk from the guy who designed the exterior and interior of the Evora. A very interesting talk about how the Evora was develop in just over 2 years. Currently the Esprit replacement is shelved and will be started from a blank canvas if it's to go ahead. The new CEO will have to decide on whether Lotus start development.
Also in the building was an M250 and Gordon Masson's S1, which is living at the factory at present, since the last Factory Day in 2006 we think! It's certainly in the right place, timeless styling.
After the Styling talk, we hit the mini bus and were taken to the Lotus Shop, after that we used our food & drink vouchers we got when signing in to get some grub from the Food Van. Pretty good choice of food and drink. We then headed back to the carpark to jump in our Esprit and head to the test track.
An Evora was waiting for us and we were given instructions for the Parade lap. No overtaking, maximum speed on the straight would probably be around 70mph. No slowing down and then speeding up and try and keep 4 car lengths between each car. Fine by us! We got about 7 laps of the track which took about 2 mins 50 secs. Great fun to drive around the test track, worth the trip itself.
We needed to get away, so left after lunch at 2pm. The afternoon was the Technical talk and the factory tour of the Elise and Evora line. We've been around the production line before and you can get a good idea from our other guides.
A great weekend for Esprit owners. We had a brilliant time along with around 100 other people. Great work by Bibs at LEF for organising this along with Lotus. Thanks goes out to the 30-odd Lotus staff who were there on a Sunday. You couldn't ask for too much more really and it's great to be able to go back to the factory where all our cars were made.