Grand Prix & Grand Prix Mixte

"A step up. Note improvements in crank, derailleurs, shifters, brakes, pedals. 
A rugged chrome-moly sport/commuter bike with all the essentials"
~~ 1981 Lotus Catalog ~~

Believe it or not, that quote is all Lotus had to say about the first-generation Grand Prix in their 1981 Catalog.

The Grand Prix was one model above the entry-level Lotus America and one model below the ever-popular Lotus Excelle

The America, Grand Prix, and Excelle were the only first-generation Lotus models available as a Mixte frame. 
Early production Grand Prixs have center-pull brakes, chromed steel rims, water-slide seat tube band decals and a Lotus flower decal on the head tube, gradually these parts were replaced with side-pull brakes, alloy rims with rear spoke protector, Mylar seat tube band decals and riveted head badges. We have observed a few Grand Prix models with a blend of these features suggesting that the changes were introduced gradually or just changed as parts were available.

The Grand Prix was one of the few Lotus models to use high-flange hubs and a chrome spoke protector.

The Grand Prix was only available for two years in 1980 and 1981, as such it was the only first-generation Lotus model not continued into further generations.

We've uncovered some old dealer information that shows the 1981 Grand Prix was available with either alloy or steel rims.  The alloy rim Grand Prix cost $250.00 and the steel steed was only $237.00.  Why someone would choose steel wheels over alloy wheels to save only $13.00, we don't know. These were probably list prices and are from a bicycle shop in New York City, so they are probably on the higher side of the price curve.  Lotus bikes were frequently discounted.  

The 1981 Lotus Excelle listed at only $24.00 more than the alloy-rim Grand Prix. It's probably the proximity of the cost of the Grand Prix to the Excelle, the subtle understated advertising, and brief production of the Grand Prix that makes it one of the more difficult Lotus bikes to find today.

In 1982 the Grand Prix was upgraded slightly to the Lotus Grand Prix Luxe, which was only available for one year. Around 1982 Lotus had partnered with Pacific Cycles in Taiwan to produce some of the entry-level Lotus models, which would be shown in the 1983 Lotus Catalog. The Pacific Cycles Lotus Lotus Elan and Elan Mixte were the closest replacements for the Grand Prix.

The first-generation Grand Prix was available in three colors: Blue, Silver, and Black. 

1980 Grand Prix Mixte in Blue

The photo above and to the right show a very early, circa 1980, Grand Prix in Blue. Note the lack of a riveted head tube badge and no rear spoke protector. This model also has steel rims and center-pull brakes, all signs of an early production model. The Grand Prix mixte features decorative head lugs while the standard diamond (men's) frame uses the more common spear-pointed lugs.

The photo below shows a 1981 Grand Prix Mixte. It's hard to believe that the only two good photos we have of the Grand Prix Mixte happen to be both Blue, but we'll happily take what we can get. We've posted the second photo because it does show some differences from the early model photo above.

It's difficult to see in the photo, but the bicycle shown below does have the riveted head tube badge. Also note the chrome spoke protector and wider-range freewheel specified on the later, circa 1981 models.

It may just be the photo, but the Blue looks to be a few shades darker than the early model shown above.  The early bike looks closer to the Lotus Ice Blue found on the first-generation Legend and Classique.  
1981 Lotus Grand Prix Mixte in Blue

The Lotus Grand Prix as shown in the 1981 Lotus Catalog.
1981 Catalog Scan of the Lotus Grand Prix

The photo above shows an early first-generation Grand Prix in excellent original condition.  This bike has the head tube decal and an exposed rear brake cable along the top tube.  Later models would use a riveted head tube emblem and three top tube cable guides. Note the original reflector package which uses the Cat Eye RR-280-WU series reflectors. These reflectors are very distinctive to many of the first-generation Lotus bikes.
1980-81 Lotus Grand Prix 
Frame Details Top tube cable guides, stamped steel drop outs
Frame Tubing Tange Champion Cro-mo Headset Tange Chrome
Fork Tange Champion Cro-mo, half-chromed fork Handlebar SR Alloy
Colors Blue, Silver and Black Stem SR Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25 inches  19, 21 for Mixte
Brakes Dia Compe Alloy Side-Pull w/ QR, and Extension Levers*
Crank SR Custom Alloy w/ Chain Guard 40-52 Seatpost Stainless Steel
Pedals MKS 2K Quill Alloy  Saddle Kashimax 
Shift Levers Suntour on Stem, PUB-10 Rims Ukai or Araya 27 x 11/4  Alloy, Early models steel
Front Derailleur Suntour VX Alloy Hubs Sunshine High-Flange Alloy
Rear Derailleur Suntour VX-GT Alloy   Spokes
Freewheel Suntour 6-Speed 14-32 Tires IRC 27 x 1 1/8 
Chain Shimano Uniglide Weight 29 lbs.
Notes *Some models observed with Shimano Tourney center-pull brakes and levers.
Early models observed with head tube Lotus decal, later models badged.
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