The first ever Lotus to win a Formula 1 race was a Lotus 18 at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix, run by the Rob Walker Team, with Stirling at the wheel. It was therefore fitting that Stirling attended the VIP launch of the new range of Lotus road cars at a Gala dinner held at the Louvre in Paris on 30th September 2010.

Alongside Clive Chapman, son of the Colin Chapman the Lotus founder, who runs Classic Team Lotus, Takumo Sato, Queen guitarist Brian May, Stephen Baldwin and the boards of both Proton and Lotus Cars, Stirling witnessed the unveiling of the five Lotus cars that are due to go into production over the next 5 years.

Lotus has bought back the eponymous names from the past including the Esprit, the Elan, the Elite and a 21st century version of the Elise that did so much to revive the company’s fortunes in the 1990’s. A new name to the Lotus line-up was as sports saloon called the Eterne.

Conscious that they have brought back famous Lotus names, Dany Bahar, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus, said of the Esprit “One has to be very careful when taking on the challenge of reinventing such an iconic classic as the Esprit – everyone has an opinion. There’s a fine balance between acknowledging the greatness of the past whilst at the same time rapidly leaping forward to the future and ensuring that this car not only does the name Esprit justice but also the Lotus brand. I think we’ve managed to find the balance and in doing so created a new icon, a car people will find hard to resist.”

Of the new line-up, both Stirling and Lady Moss favoured the new Elan as a car that would appeal to both sexes. Sitting alongside Donato Coco, the designer of the new Lotus range, Stirling was able to gain an insight into the design process that brought all five cars from the design studio in Hethel to Paris as working prototypes in a remarkably short period of time.

Aside from racing Lotus Formula 1 cars, Stirling also owned an original Lotus Elan road car as well as a Lotus Elite Type 14 which his own race team ran with Sir John Whitmore at the wheel. It was therefore fitting that Stirling was able to view the interior of the new Elite at close quarters.

His first reaction to the new range of Lotus cars was “Wow, to be fifty years younger and have any one of these, you would be picking up the girls” said Stirling with a twinkle in his eye, adding “I am very impressed, if they come out as good as they look when they go into production and handle as one hopes they would, I would think Lotus will do very well with the new range.”

Stirling went onto to entertain the Lotus guests on the stage, with Clive Chapman asking the questions about Stirling’s racing career at the wheel of Lotus race cars, which included the 1960 and 1961 Monaco GP victories. Earlier in the evening he was shown the new Lotus Type 125 single seater by Indycar driver Takumo Sato, a car aimed at giving Lotus customers an experience as close to Formula 1 as possible. Testing for this new car begins at the Abu Dhabi circuit in January 2011.

With an ambitious road car programme and a motor sport programme extending from Formula 1 to GT racing, Lotus looks set to make good on their promise of going head to head with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari. Stirling will watch their progress with great interest over the coming years.