PROJECT CARS: Welcome Project Lotus LF1

Say a big Road Magazine & Blog hello to our first ever Project Lotus, owned and written about by contributor & friend, Andy Robinson.

Well, life with the big cat (Jaguar XFR) finally came to an end, and I can honestly say this has been one of the most pleasurable cars I’ve ever owned (and I’ve been lucky to own quite a few in my 22 years of motoring). It was certainly a ‘Q’ car – not creating too much attention, but at the same time having barn storming performance from its mega 5L supercharged V8. And, at time of selling her, she was running just over 600bhp, which raised a fair few eyebrows in the supercar community at road rallies and drag strips alike. She will be missed.

So, where to go from here I asked?
I’ve been very lucky to have owned a great variety of cars in my lifetime – from hot hatches to luxury 4×4’s and full blown race and drag cars. But there is one type of car that I’ve never owned and I guess you could call them a ‘purist driver’s car.’ Lithe, low inertia & loaded with engineering excellence.

I guess by “purist driver’s car” I mean one that’s pure in the way it links the driver to the road and has very little in the way of distraction and drivers’ aids. And the first cars that spring to mind are Caterham and Westfield – but I prefer to have a roof over my head and at least a small boot if I decide to take the car on a road rally or a weekend away.

Which brought me to Lotus. And I scoured the car ads and found that my Local Lotus dealer had a super rare Exige S LF1. Mmmmm…

And, after a just a short & very quick trip test drive, I knew this was the car I was looking for: The biggest surprise for me was how quick the standard car actually is. I wasn’t expecting much (as it’s “only” 345bhp from the 3.5 supercharged V6), but the fact that the car only weighs just over 1,100Kg makes for rather rapid acceleration to say the least. And combined with the extremely direct (non-power assisted) steering made for a superb combination and a very addictive drive.

Unfortunately the one at the local dealership sold pretty quickly before I could get an offer in, so I continued my search for another good example of this super rare beast (only 81 were produced, each one celebrating the 81 F1 victories by Lotus to date).

A frustrating six months of searching later, I finally got wind of a suitable car down at Williams Automobiles in Bristol. And after lots of telephone conversations, emailed pictures and even the odd video I felt more than comfortable buying the car “blind” over the phone, subject to a service and a couple of very minor points being addressed. And a few days later, the car was ready to be collected. Happy days.

LF1 collection day came and, all freshly cleaned and very well turned out by the guys and girls at Williams Automobiles, I thought she was A1. In fact, the whole buying experience was a pleasure. These guys seem to genuinely care about each and every customer who calls or visits the dealership. And a special thank you goes out to Lindon of Williams who put up with my multiple phone calls and emails throughout the buying experience!

As with all my cars, even this factory fettled LF1 will not remain standard for long. And, after only after a few hundred miles and a month of ownership, I already have some ideas in the pipeline. So, stay, er, tuned for updates… Project Lotus LF1 is go!

What Lotus said on the launch of the LF1:

Every now and then, Lotus engineers exercise their talents and the LF1 is a direct result. As you know, motorsport is a vital aspect of our heritage. It has helped to define and refine what we stand for. From Colin Chapman’s earliest renderings, one element has remained true…‘adding lightness’.

Naturally, sportscars lend themselves ideally to the tuning sector, which always seeks more from the package. Our response is to give that extra boost to our own products. After all, we know them intrinsically. We also know that you can trust our judgement.

The LF1 is a prime exercise in taking a model to a logical level. More than just a paint-job, however relevant, every element of the Exige is enhanced to a more finely-honed intensity. The upshot is a version of the Exige that can take you to places, where your appreciation of its technological competence is also placed on a stellar platform.

You lose nothing on the refinement, or comfort fronts, but you gain dynamically and victory can be yours on demand.

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