Tony Fernandes confirms Caterham Cars purchase

Team Lotus boss confirms the purchase of British sportscar company Caterham Cars

Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has expanded his automotive portfolio with the acquisition of British sportscar manufacturer Caterham Cars.

The purchase by the Malaysian entrepreneur behind the latest incarnation of Team Lotus was confirmed at a special event at Duxford’s Imperial War Museum on Wednesday.

“Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world,” said Fernandes. “As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence.”

The acquisition will see the lightweight sportscar manufacturer expand its brand profile through its associations with the F1 team, although there was no mention of a rebranding.

Team Lotus Enterprises will continue the development of the company’s iconic Seven model, as well as giving Caterham a platform to build “exciting new models for the 21st century”.

Caterham existing management team, headed up by managing director Ansar Ali, will remain in place

Ali has helped energise Caterham’s export prowess during the last five years, creating the iconic Superlight R500 -Top Gear’s Car of the Year for 2008 -and Caterham’s first new model in 15 years, the SP/300R sports prototype racer.

“This is yet another exciting chapter in the Caterham story,” said Ali. “Until now, the resources Caterham has had at its disposal have, naturally, limited the exposure of the Caterham experience and the legendary Seven has had to rely almost entirely on its remarkable reputation and legacy.

“We will remain entirely true to the philosophy that we, as custodians of one man’s motoring concept, have protected for nearly 40 years.”

Team Lotus is still in the middle of a court battle with Malaysian-owned Group Lotus and its parent company Proton over the use of the Lotus name in Formula 1, with the High Court set to rule on the case in May.

Fernandes insists that the Caterham deal has not been done to give him an outlet should he lose the right to use the name.

“This isn’t being done just in case we lose the case,” Fernandes said. “We’ve invested a lot in bringing Lotus back into racing. We’ve acquired Team Lotus, have spent a lot of money building this brand up, and it’s not something we want to give up.

“Obviously, the plan was to try and do it with Group Lotus but that hasn’t worked out, but we think we’ve got something better now.”

Fernandes started life in F1 with Lotus Racing in 2010, using the Lotus name under licence from Proton before it was revoked last year.

As a result, Fernandes acquired the rights to Team Lotus from David Hunt, who had acquired them in 1994.

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