Colin Chapman was both an ambitious businessman and prolific designer. By 1966, in less than 16 years, he had designed or constructed over 36 significantly different formula, sports and GT models. His first efforts were Austin and Ford-engined club racers, and soon he was producing a line of successful race cars using the Coventry Climax engines, in increasingly larger displacements and by the end of the decade Lotus was putting cars on the grids of Formula II and Formula I events.
Unlike Enzo Ferrari, Chapman was a race car constructor eager to join the ranks of car producers. In 1957 Chapman decided to build a production Grand Touring car, the Elite. This pivotal design was replaced in 1962-63 by the Elan, a favorite on the British TV series The Avengers. The Elan was successful, but Chapman had a vision of a new, much less expensive car about the cost of an MG Midget, with a mid-engine offering even better handling. The Lotus 46 (keeping with the E theme, it was named t