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Reviews

ATTACKING THE TIMES

22nd March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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We have this theory that being an owner of a performance car garage is a lot like being a kid in a sweet shop. One man whose definitely living that dream is Andrew Baird, owner of Automek in Glasgow & he’s certainly not a fan of the standard metal that rolls off production lines.


He’s owned a huge variety of machines, worked onthousands more and to him each one has needed modifying. The hunt for more power & better handling has always been the mission in his own cars as well as those of his customers. With a strong love for Hondas he’s built some incredible power houses over the years including his own Civic Eg with a supercharged K20. However none until now have scratched the performance car itch…



Clearly what you can see here is not a Honda. His love for the Lotus brand eventually bit him hard and he knew he had to get hold of one. Next up was choices, Elise or Exige? After tonnes of research Andrew was ready to go ahead with the purchase of an S1 Exige, then an article was released stating they were a solid investment for the future… ‘ignore the banks and buy s1 Exiges’… well, that killed the cheapness, and overnight they rocketed up in value, ruining the plans.


Not wanting to be defeated he set about building the craziest Lotus he could using the cheapest basic chassis he could find. A base car was sourced locally, and with no real care to hearing it running or anything else the usual car buyer kicks tyres over, he paid for it and started to head home in his new Elise S2… yep thats right, this was an Elise.


His first review of that drive home would have you believe that he’d made completely the wrong choice, it was overall absolutely terrible to drive and a garish canary yellow convertible to top it off, not exactly the manly Exige he had envisaged. First off the weak K series power plant had to go and with the car breaking down the day after purchase, well, its fate was sealed. The love for Hondas was still strong, Andrew still wanted that Honda reliability and performance.

Finding the partsto do this conversion was not a issue as the Honda engine from his earlier Eg civic build was needing a new home. However that didn’t last long as a customer had their eye on that engine leaving the Lotus once again without a motor. This problem didn’t last long as Laskey Racing in the US supplied Andrew with a fully forged K24 bottom end for this build and the goal now was not just to create something fast, it had to ultimately terrify. Engine was sorted, but the looks well.. that needed work too. The transformation into an S2 Exige took place. A difficult but necessary conversion to allow a comfortable fit of the new Supercharged K24 that was being put into it, oh and the Exige just looks better.

The Lotus pedigree really showed through as Andrew continued the build to completion, very little was wrong or needed improvement when it came to suspension and chassis work, it was coming together perfectly. To complete the hard as nails look the car needed to sit low on some new wheels, it needed to be different. TTS near Silverstone helped with the custom hubs giving it the perfect ride height with no negative attributes to the cars handling. As for wheels well the Lotus 4 studs limited choice so that had to change. A set of existing Vauxhall wheel bearings were adapted in house to fit the new hubs and suddenly Jap fitment was possible. TE37s were the wheel of choice but crazy staggered offsets were required.

This alteration to a 5 stud changed everything meaning no off the shelf brake arrangement was possible. A whole new setup was needed and assembled from scratch & paired up with help of a custom pedal box to suit by Pilbeam Racing. Its taken two & a half years to get the project to what your seeing here and an insane build like this  needed a reason to exist, it couldn’t just be for the road where it would be dangerous trying to reach its full potential, neither was it intended as a track day car. This project ultimately was to create a no limits Time Attack build.

So far its been used in anger several time including two wet rounds of Time Attack, however its not in the Lotus category, nope the supercharger bumped it up out of there, so initially it started off in the club class,pairing this 400bhp Lotus alongside 500bhp+ Rx7s and Nobles but one more thing needed changing that would give Andrew an even greater challenge… Momentum Motorsport in Ireland helped get a Sequential box together, which is fantastic, but it has moved the Lotus up to Club Pro alongside a great deal of experienced cars and drivers. It was never going to be easy.

Andrew is the first to admit that the car is a lot more capable than the driver at present but he knew that throughout the build process, he’s fully aware that its going to take a lot longer to learn to drive than it did to build it. A challenge is good, it keeps things fresh and interesting, it pushes you to improve and this car is doing exactly that for Andrew and the team at Automek, we are looking forward to seeing how it evolves next!

This car was too good not to feature a full spec list, so here we go….

Chassis:

  • S2 k series Elise
  • Exige s2 body work
  • Tts custom hubs
  • 5×114.3 bearings
  • Fully re bushed suspension
  • Braced subframe and arms
  • Safety devises cage
  • Nitron ntr coilovers
  • Eliseparts 1″ adjustable front roll bar
  • Eliseparts quick rack

Brakes:

  • Ap racing pro5000+ callipers front and rear
  • 330mm custom front discs
  • 308mm custom rear discs
  • Ap hydraulic bias control
  • Pilbeam custom pedal box with Ap cylinders inc independent reservoirs
  • Full hose technics braided lines throughout
  • Pagid rs14 pads
  • Pagid rs29 pads

Engine and transmission:

  • Laskey racing k24 sleeved block
  • K20a ported head
  • Cp Pistons
  • Manley Rods
  • Earls oil pump
  • Fd2 cams
  • Ported rrc inlet with Toda tb
  • Hybrid tensioner+toda chain
  • Act pro light flywheel
  • Act clutch
  • Quaife qke8j sequential gearbox
  • Custom billet shifter assembly
  • Tts custom billet engine mounts
  • Custom built wiring loom (entire car)
  • Dta s80pro management
  • Dta XDash
  • Defi’s
  • Custom drive shafts
  • Rotrex c38-81 supercharger
  • Pro alloy charge cooler system
  • Tial bov
  • Gruppe m ep3 air box (heavily modified)
  • Duetchworks 1000cc injectors
  • Custom fuel system
  • Pro alloy 60ltr endurance tank
  • Bosche 044 pump
  • Spoon baffled sump
  • Mocal oil cooler system
  • Pro alloy triple pass radiator
  • Full sfs hose set from front to rear

Bodywork/ styling:

  • (carbon parts)
  • Reverie front full floor splitter
  • Reverie roof scoop
  • Reverie exige side pods
  • Reverie rear diffuser
  • Apr side sills
  • Apr wing mirrors
  • Apr rear gtc200 wing
  • Apr front canards
  • Volk te37’s (two sets)
  • Set of braids (wets)
  • Carbon cup 260 engine cover
  • Full respray in frost white
  • Interior (not that there is much):
  • Mog carbon fibre seats
  • Schroth 6 point harness’s
  • Flocked dash
  • Lifeline zero360 novec plumbed fire extinguisher system
  • Momo model 88 wheel with snap off   Kit

Event

Spring Matsuri

21st March 2017 — by Dave Cox

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So it was my first ever Drift Matsuri. And being one of two yearly events this spring Matsuri event took place at Rockingham Motor Speedway, East Midlands.

I set out on my 3.5 hour journey at early hours of Saturday morning to and get to the venue as early as possible and get the most out of the weekend.

The journey was super smooth in my old Mercedes, which made it extra enjoyable traveling up. Arriving at the track I was immediately overwhelmed with the sheer amount of effort people have put into their cars, and the variation was incredible.

The word ‘Matsuri’ meaning festival in Japanese was clearly shown here, by the chilled and party-like atmosphere, inside and out of the pits.

Using 3 separate tracks meant there was action to be seen from all angles. 1 of them being used on the Sunday for the Drift Cup Round 1.

Apart from shooting trackside I also took the opportunity to catch up with some old mates (fellow photographers, organisers and drivers). Which is the great thing about the drifting community; it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away from it you can jump straight back into the deep end and it was like you’ve never left.

Hearing feedback from drivers of the event was very positive, and the main thing they all loved was that they could drive next to whoever. Whether it be a learner, streeto hoon or a BDC pro. It was all in the name of drifting and having fun.

From 600bhp animals to 100bhp low powered clutch kickers all the drivers gave it a shot.

That aside it is a real shame that other drift events in the UK aren’t as entertaining as this, and show as much of a variety of cars and driving styles.

What we can’t forget is that there are so many styles out there and not one of them is wrong, as they all have their place. Even the cars in the car park were on another level!

Overall it was a really enjoyable weekend and a great event to go to after having so much time out from it all.

Words & Pics: Al Hughes

Reviews

ITS A VIP THING

16th March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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Japan & the JDM craze is nothing new, its an influence on the lives of so many with their mindset and ways of life. Their car culture especially plays a huge part with so many automotive fans from around the globe. From every documentary we’ve seen on the subject they are totally trendsetters without even knowing it, what we deem to be cool is often just because it was the only way to do it to them and therefore it simply worked.

So it would seem that little thought is put into what others think… refreshing that 😉

In the western world this kind of attitude can bring on hate. The desire to be different is shot down and conforming to the masses is the standard by which you are judged. With all that being said, we wanted to bring you all a little slice of the Japanese mindset from way up North in Aberdeen. A Lexus GS300 Sport that would not look out of place cruising the streets of Tokyo. At its heart is a JDM 2JZGE, for people who don’t live their lives knowing engine codes, thats a straight 6 3.0 litre engine pushing out around 240bhp and bundles of useable torque, easily moving this VIP wagon through the streets.

Its owner, Fraser, has a solid spec list of modifications, not the all of which are the usual ones you’d expect, its an awesome mix of mostly driveway mods that work, again saluting that JDM culture of doing it yourself & doing whatever you want.

A fully fettled exhaust and intake allow it to be heard long before its seen. But its the presence in person that demands your attention. Its most striking party piece would have to be the D2 Air Suspension system, dropping it to a floor scraping height thanks to 2 air zenith OBD2 compressors hugging the Works Rezax 2’s perfectly and worthy of its street sweeper gang sticker.

To suit all these lows the outside is as purposefully unique as possible with a Vertex front bumper flowing nicely into matching side skirts and a half cut OEM rear bumper allowing a Top Secret style rear diffuser to poke through finishing it all off perfectly. Spoiler wise its got a choice, the Toms roof spoiler is a permanent addition but bonnet spoilers, well, they come and go. As of this shoot it had a 326 Power spoiler, however we’ve seen since that its gone full BGW, an awesome addition to the overall look.

The interior has two red Recaro seats perfectly suiting the driven styling of this build. Adorned with stickers of varying degrees of awesomeness collected from travels to J town, once inside you’d think you were there. In fact check you can check this out for yourself in all its glory thanks to the work of Alex McArthur who has produced this ace video on the car, we feel summing it up perfectly.

This build isn’t a ‘trying too hard’ JDM replica, this is built completely to their same standard. If it fits it works, if it doesn’t fit well you just make it fit, you don’t listen to what the masses say, you don’t adhere to their set rules & accepted mods, this right here is the perfect example of the Japanese car culture.

Reviews

Auf Wiedersehen Hoshiko

14th March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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Clean, spotless, stunning, & all other words of this ilk are what comes to mind when describing Russell’s 1998 JDM import Subaru Legacy GTB. A Subaru Legacy is a pretty rare car these days on the UK roads & therefore this ‘stanced’ take on the Japanese estate behemoth stands out even more. Named ‘HOSHIKO’, ‘HOSH’ has been a pride & joy of Russell’s since 2008 & it shows. The idea behind the build has never been to stand out in the crowd, but he has managed to do that simply thanks to the attention to detail & subtlety of this project.

Now I don’t want to put a downer on this write up early on, but Russell was going to break it down for parts. The story hasn’t ended as sad as that, but as it is the car has now made the trip to Germany to be with its new owner. Highly unlikely we’ll see the likes of this at UK shows in the future. As Russell said to me “Seeing it leave the country and knowing I won’t see it at the local super market car park was the only way I could part ways with it.” I think any car enthusiast whose put time & effort into a unique build will understand that frame of mind.

So the car has gone, but Russell still kept hold of those stunning one off custom ‘WORKS’ alloys, the most impressive feature in my mind of this build. The wheels themselves really make the car standout. They are WORK Emotion XD9 with custom flip cadbury purple with diamond cut lips. Sizes are 18 x 10 et38 fitted with stretched Falken 452’s 215-40-18 (by our friends at Ruislip Tyres no doubt).

Custom STi 4Pot brake upgrade & zinc dipped multi grooved Performance disc’s & pads sit behind the stunning ‘WORKS’ wheels running -4 degrees of negative camber. All this is framed perfectly by the lowered stance provided by the BC Racing “BR”  “Extreme Low” 30 point adjustable damping height & camber top mount coilovers.

This car is no slouch in the corners and thanks to amazing support over the years from Whiteline it has an extremely solid feel to it, a very impressive car in the twisty’s despite its size.

The interior has also seen a lot of custom work in Russell’s ownership. A deep dish alcantara steering wheel mated to a works bell boss and Richbrook white ally gear-nob provide the control needed. Cloth interior was also soon removed & retrimmed with an old school pleated leather in the front and two custom cobra mini buckets and framework fitted to the rear.

The work he has put into the cars overall appearance is outstanding over the years, subtle modifications which bring it all together & give you the result shown. From colour coding bumpers, rolling & flaring the arches and even the cleaning up of the headlamps and the addition of HIDs all come together for the end result.

Its not all aesthetic as the 2ltr 280bhp boxer engine has been allowed to breath thanks to the Apexi Power Intake & lets everyone know its coming thanks to the stainless steel Kakimoto rear box & decat section. To sum it up, the license plate surround says it best & is a worthy nod to the USA based car movement, this Legacy is ‘Simply Clean’.

News

The New McLaren 720S

10th March 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Good vehicle design challenges your predisposition.

Car manufactures over the last decade or two have been doing this for a while with each incremental update. BMW comes to mind here when they released the last of the E series cars. I remember seeing the 5 series and thinking “Hmm, not sure I like that” but within a couple of days I had totally come round the new design language. And I think it is important that manufactures keep on challenging our ideals. For if they follow the same styling cars will quickly date.

Sure, sometimes it doesn’t work out so well, consider the FIAT Multipla, that remains as ugly now as it did the day it was dreamt up. The same could be said about the Nissan Juke. Ahead of the Geneva motorshow, I saw a few blurry and low res pictures of the new McLaren 720S and I couldn’t really work out what was going on.

Come Wednesday morning my feed was full of pictures of the 720S, more importantly, they were clear and I could finally see what McLaren had been up to. My initial thoughts were that of confusion. I love McLaren, I always have, in my eyes, they can do no wrong. But now I wasn’t sure, is it ugly? Can I even say that?

The first point of contention for me was the “eye sockets” that now adorn the front of the car. From anything other than a dead front they appeared almost garish, like a set of poorly chosen sunglasses. For me it really disrupted the flow of the car. It was an odd choice as I have always thought that McLaren’s headlights have been cleverly integrated into the flow of the design.

Secondly the seemingly continuous change in surfaces across the bodies skin was a bit busy for my liking. From a side profile, it made it difficult to read. Things weren’t looking good, this was not the McLaren I had known and loved.

To be honest, these feelings lasted all of about 24 hours. I watched a few videos on the car, listened to McLaren talk about the innovations they had made and looked at really impressive imagery by Dean Smith and I could finally appreciate the way it looked. It is all in the details with this car, the “eye sockets” are not only there to house the improved headlights but also low temperature radiators. When you think about it, that is quite a clever way of designing the front end, no more large open grilles at the front of the car.

The “fussy” sculpted side is all about funnelling air to the intakes and holding turbulent are closer to the car all in the aid of improving down force. Speaking of which, this car actually produces 50% more down force than the 675LT before it! That is enormous! Not to mention that this car will also do 212mph!!!

McLaren have also developed “Carbon Tub II” for this project. A lighter stiffer tub which improves weight, torsional rigidity and allow for much better visibility. Having had a ride in a few McLaren’s I can say that being able to see out of these cars was never their weak point. To improve it must make it a joy to drive. I am thinking more along the lines a fighter jet canopy. The speedometer folds away neatly when the car turns off and also when you engage sport mode. I turns into a race car inspired rev-counter. Now that is just cool!

What do you think? Are you still struggling with the way it looks? Or have you come round to the new look of McLaren?

Words: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)
Pictures: McLaren – NetCarShow.com