Like so many car enthusiasts of my age, I have grown up with visions of Supercars and other extreme machines at the fore-front of my adolescent mind. From my early teens I had my eyes on the obvious marques likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Then I was introduced to the Lotus Esprit. Blame James Bond if you wish, but the wedge shape, sharp lines and low stance made a permanent impression on me. All other Supercars of that era were totally beyond the reach of normal means and it was so refreshing to see a truly exotic car at a reasonable price.
When the sharp lines were smoothed off by the creation of the Stevens shape, my interest became more pronounced. In the space of 6 years from the late 80s Lotus had evolved the 4 cylinder Esprit, extending the performance envelope and improving the build quality. The latest 2.2 litre 4 cylinder Esprit S4s a very well developed machine.
When the Esprit V8 was launched in 1996, I was lucky enough to participate in a Lotus dealer track day at Donnington Park. After a couple of laps in a bright red V8, I was completely hooked. At the time I was playing performance with heavily modified Renault 5 GT Turbo. My project car back then was featured in both Fast Car and MaxPower (hey come on I was a teenager). Imagine the difference from working with a 1.4 litre push-rod engine running 1.5 bar boost and 190bhp, to a Lotus Esprit V8. It was time to move on and I traded in the Renault 5 Turbo and located a four month old, 1997 Esprit V8 in mustard yellow. It had green leather and yellow piping and it was just lovely. I can still remember my excitement during those first days of ownership.
When Lotus brought out the Esprit V8-GT, it was practically impossible to ignore the value of the lightweight V8. I traded my yellow V8 against an order for a new V8-GT in titanium. I was overjoyed with my GT and then Lotus brought out the Sport350. Having missed out on the exclusive Sport300, I felt drawn toward this model. I contacted my dealer at the time and managed to secure Sport350 #2. This car was delivered to me in Switzerland where for about 5 minutes, I had both a V8-GT and Sport350in the driveway..
The Sport350 was a wonderful combination of looks and performance. For 12 months or so I was completely content, driving the Esprit on an almost daily basis. Then I started to think back to my old days of car modification. I knew that the V8 wasnt intercooled and was running a somewhat lazy configuration producing only 350bhp. I also knew that the GT1 version of the Esprit was producing well over 550bhp. It was predictable that I found myself investigating modifications to the car.
There were others who were looking at increasing the Esprit performance but I wanted something really extreme. I came in contact with Mike Haines Racing who at the time was still racing one of the original Esprit Type 114 (Esprit V8 GT1) in European GT2 competition.
This is basically how the project started it was conceived out of my consuming passion for the Lotus Esprit and an eagerness to produce something that looked very much like the most extreme evolution of the car.
This site tells the story of the Lotus Esprit V8 GT1. It also tells the story of my project and my attempt to create a road-going replica of that great car.