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(You have to be pretty cool to have a Lotus edition named after you…)

Becker (bek-eer)- transitive verb

Definition of Becker- to make an automobile handle massively better than anything else on the planet.

I know that Colin Chapman is the greatest automobile engineer that has ever lived. Nothing you can ever possibly say is a valid argument against that statement, and I think it is really cool that I own the last road going car he had input in designing. Is one of the things I love about it.

Having said that, there is a fellow named Roger Becker who has had a hand in making every road car, starting with the Elan, to leave Norfolk enjoy what we now know as “Lotus handling”.

“Lotus handling”. It’s an idea I am quite certain to devote several gigabytes to, but for the moment let me rest on the fact that if a car has it, anyone lucky enough to be driving it will go to fantastic lengths to find a corner and fly through it. It is shockingly supple, direct, and communicative.

Anyway, Roger is the man responsible for connecting the cars Lotus has produced throughout the years to that idea.

I spent some time with Roger at a National Lotus Owners Club (Lotus Ltd meeting a few years back. Www.lotuscarclub.org completely worth joining btw…) and it would be completely easy to mistake him for a professor at a small school somewhere. That’s cool, and kind of British. If Roger were American, given he drove in Bond movies, Basic instinct, and helped make most of the great sporting cars of the last 50 years, he would be covered in gold chains and have an entourage bigger than Brittney, but for all his accomplishments in engineering Roger is actually quite humble. When I sat next to him at dinner, he spent the night assuring me that my Exige could do things that, well, I couldn’t. I’m sure he was right.

The next morning, after the requisite group photo at the Indianapolis motor Speedway (LOG was at Indy that year) I asked him if we wanted a lift back to the hotel. He demurred with a slight smile. A few minutes later en route he flew by my Exige in a type 211(not the slightest bit road legal) that sounded like the devil was unsuccessfully chasing it. If that isn’t badass, nothing is.

Well, because of this guy, you can sit an experienced Lotus driver in any Lotus, and blindfolded, they can tell you if it is one. My Esprit is bigger and softer than my Exige was, but it gives you the same story though the steering wheel. My Exige was Bigger than several Elans I have driven, but the steering feel was related. In fact, when you spend time in a Lotus, it takes some getting used to. At first you constantly worry that you are flatting tires, such is the change in steering feel over different pavement types. Other cars seek to insulate you from that. Roger’s cars embrace it.

His cars change direction very well. They inspire convince. They are poised, and for sports cars, ride with a supple quality that other manufacturers can only dream of. I think that last bit might only be partially due to the condition of Potash lane…

About the only thing Roger and I disagree on is that he is unabashedly a “small engine” guy, and I, true to my Midwestern American roots, seem helplessly disposed to the biggest, hoariest V-8’s I can get my hands on. Roger believes that a Lotus should be driven “on throttle” and that the 918 was “an engine too far”, where for the most part, corners are, to me, the unfortunate connection between my ham-footed gas pedal mashing. (Chacun à son goûts, right?) He should try living in a corn field…

If he had gotten his way, I believe he would have preferred a turbocharged V-6 as a successor engine to the wonderful and bulletproof 2.2, but they listened to people like me…. (I would have bought a V-6 Esprit with no hesitation, such is the disorder for these machines and its hold on me…)

Roger recently retired from Lotus cars, and spends his time on a boat somewhere warm. His son Matt, who I don’t know much about, but is extremely well regarded by people I respect has taken over, and near as I can figure, will continue the family tradition of excellence in vehicle dynamics in keeping with the expectations of the Lotus community. I like knowing that.

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