“Around 2007, the company wanted to do the Evora,” says Becker. “The Elise Series 2 was a development of a car that existed, but the Evora was a completely clean sheet of paper and my opportunity as a development lead to basically work with the design and analysis teams and say ‘This is what I want this car to achieve’.”
The Evora was a longer-legged GT car. “I’d spent so much time in Elises and knew how tiresome they became over long distances,” says Becker. “I wanted to create a car that was as agile as the Elise but a lot more comfortable, a lot more forgiving.” It won Autocar’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest in 2009, but Becker will also admit that Lotus “made cars for engineers” rather than customers and that “you’d have to liquidise passengers before they’d fit in the back” of an Evora. On top of all that, the Evora’s generous steering lock, so useful for sliding the car around, meant the wider wheel wells badly offset the pedals.
“Towards the end of my time at Lotus, in 2014, I was thinking ‘Well I’ve done Evora, what’s next?’, and Geely [Lotus’s current owners] weren’t around,” says Becker. He talked to a few different people, including Aston Martin, just when Andy Palmer, who had previously tried to headhunt him, was appointed Aston’s boss. “I thought there’s some kind of fate here,” says Becker.
“Andy told me what the cycle plan was at Aston. I didn’t think there’s anywhere else I could go that would give me such an opportunity to apply some of my knowledge and learn new things, unless you go to Porsche or Lamborghini, not even McLaren. You’re not going to have that portfolio of experience, so I took a leap of faith.”
What followed was “the biggest culture shock of my career”, he says. On his first day, Becker was handed six or seven printed sheets of acronyms and their explanations, a “Ford-speak” hangover of the company’s time as part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, that he’s since either helped to drive out or “just got to know them”.