Or tearing out the engine from a Lotus Exige with only 15K original miles and swapping it with another 4-banger just .2 liters bigger? Chris did that and a lot more along the way. Here is the amazing story of a regular guy (in his own words) building a 400-WHP, 2,000 LB Lotus Exige S in his own garage, in his spare time, on an aggressive timeline and a tight budget --
My name is Chris and I love cars. Over the years, I have owned a Porsche 997 S, VW Corrado VR6, Audi A4, MK2 GTi but I have had very little experience working on them. I've done maybe 4 brake jobs, changed 2 alternators, a few competition stereo systems, a timing belt once, and really just basic maintenance for the most part. I've always wanted to build an insanely fast car and learn every detail about it but I never had my own garage to do it in until now. I’ve wanted that feeling of doing my own big project out of my own garage, you know what I mean?
I didn't tell many people what I was up to with this huge project because it was my first time doing something like this and I didn’t want to hear all the negativity thrown my way. If I break my own neck doing it, it’s my money and my problem, so sit back and enjoy the show.
Problems with the Original Toyota 2ZZ plan
One solution would be to upgrade the gear sets but the failure rate was still fairly high and not acceptable budget wise. Quaife has a fully sequential tranny option but that would require the Exige to turn into a dedicated track car and eliminate the purpose for the project all-together (not to mention $10K extra). The final tranny improvement option would be to "upgrade" the whole tranny to an MR2 turbo 5 speed since it has massive gears and known to be bullet proof but seriously -- who wants a 5 speed?!? This option was also 5K plus gear set upgrades to modify the undesirable long gears to a close ratio gear box for motorsport use. After sniffing propane heater fumes for a few weeks, my judgment might have been somewhat impaired.... Yep, this A/C leak was about to get way out of hand!
To be continued...
A Lotus Gone Wild: How an A/C Leak Turned into a 400-WHP Monster - Part I
A Lotus Gone Wild: How an A/C Leak Turned into a 400-WHP Monster - Part II
A Lotus Gone Wild: How an A/C Leak Turned into a 400-WHP Monster - Part III
A Lotus Gone Wild: How an A/C Leak Turned into a 400-WHP Monster - Part IV
A Lotus Gone Wild: How an A/C Leak Turned into a 400-WHP Monster - Part V
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