V10-Powered Lotus Exige Hits the Track

Photo credit: resja.nu

Johan had played with powerful machinery before. Light ones, too. His previous steed—an E30 M3—used the family’s burly S85 V10 for propulsion. How he squeezed an M5’s mill into the E30’s cramped engine bay is beyond us, but it seems he developed a taste for punishment with that build, since his newest creation uses the same motor shoehorned into an even smaller space. Johan might be slightly masochistic, but it’s only byproduct of having immensely high standards.

Five years ago, Johan became a bonafide glutton for punishment when he embarked on this incredible swap—fitting a hefty ten-cylinder into the back of a Lotus was no mean feat. Cars like the Elise GT1 and the Hennessey Venom paved the path somewhat, but the custom fabrication required of Johan would make most men cry. The platform would need to be extended six inches behind the cabin, a completely new trailer and a custom cage would need to be constructed, and, considering the the new drivetrain’s additional 600 pounds and ability to fire the car down the road, a set of massive brakes were absolutely necessary.

Photo credit: Resja.nu

Fortunately, the V10 engine makes wonderful power but only 385 lb-ft of torque at 6,100 rpm, so the heftiest gearbox wouldn’t be necessary. Johan grabbed a Porsche Boxster S transmission and mated it to a Sachs triple clutch. They would send power on back to a Kaaz LSD.

Once those ponies made their way through the differential, they’d be sent to 18″ ATS GTR Motorsport wheels. Inside of these, Porsche GT3 Cup brakes would help bring his monster to a stop, complete with an AP Racing brake bias adjuster for when he’d take it to the track. With the essential bolt-ons taken care of, Johan began building the rear carriage—an arduous task.

Johan grabbed the rear suspension from a Porsche 997 Turbo, which was built to accommodate a wide boxer motor and is known for its robustness. With the measurements made, the jig, his own homemade arms, and the beam frame supporting everything, he had a skeleton at the rear with some satisfactory specifications. Driveshaft angles, which were horrifying at first, were reduced to eight degrees, and the wheelbase was extended ten inches.

Photo credit: resja.nu

Johan scrapped the Bilsteins and went with a set of custom-valved coilovers from KH Motorsport. Photo credit: rejsa.nu

Up front, Johan devised a Griffin radiator setup with a clever ducting system before sending the machine off for a comprehensive rollcage. Because it was slightly crowded around the plenum, they went for some eye-catching triangulation with square bar in E355 construction steel.

Getting the plenum and intakes in place wasn’t too challenging, but mating a set of silencers from a Porsche 996 to the exhaust manifolds was. To ensure no fuel or oil could come in contact with the exhaust manifolds, Johan sealed them.

Johan did what he could to minimize the chances of five years of work going up in flames . Photo credit: resja.nu

Speaking of fluids, he also built a 1.5-liter catch tank fed by the original pump in the tank. To keep the thirsty mill satisfied, a Bosch 044 pump, Nuke fuel filter, and a Malpassi controller—connected with Fragola AN6 hoses and couplings—would provide all the flow necessary.

Next, he moved onto widening and lengthening the rear clamshell. To minimize headache and work with the standard panel fitments, Johan cut a center section from the original piece and started cutting support pieces for the clamshell. With some of the leftover chromoly, he fashioned a crash protection structure to save the plastic in the case of a minor incident. Then he fastened the two plastic pieces of the clamshell together with aluminum strips and plenty of pop rivets.

The front clamshell was widened accordingly to fit the 245-section tires underneath and keep the track even with the rear. After plasti-dipping the front and rear, he enlarged the front intakes to feed the oil cooler, widened the splitters, and filled the gaps in the bodywork with BUFA filler and before shipping it to the painter for a new coat of BMW Carbon Black Metallic—which has a slight blue tinge visible in the light.

Inside, he kept the car spartan but added a little exotic glitz. Carbon pieces everywhere, a fully-focused brake bias adjuster mounted in the middle of the dash, a Motec display, and a few alcantara patches here and there added a definite sense of occasion. With the cage hanging quietly in the background, even the layman would not mistake this car’s real purpose.

Photo credit: resja.nu

At the rear, he finally finished his custom exhaust comprised of two RS4 silencers and custom 3″ piping. Around that maze of tube, he erected two supports for the rear massive wing. With a relatively short wheelbase and that much power on demand, he’d enjoy a little more aerodynamic grip at the rear—which would be increased with a diffuser of his own design.

To complement that grip at the rear and give the car strong aerodynamic balance, Johan fabricated his own front splitter. After enlarging the side intakes to feed the beastly motor making a Formula 1-esque wail, he had his head-turning track toy. Five years in the making, and he’d put together something that would drop jaws across the Swedish countryside. Most impressive—even with the labor and time invested, he’s putting the machine to good use; tracking the Exige regularly and whittling away at his lap times.

Photo credit: resja.nu


About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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