The Mighty Car Mods Lotus Exige S240 sports car build story

28.10.2020

Mighty Mods black Lotus Exige 240S on the road in Artarmon
MARTY & MOOG FROM
MIGHTY CAR MODS
BUY A LOTUS EXIGE SPORTS CAR

Lee got the surprise of his life when Marty & Moog from Mighty Car Mods stopped by the Simply Sports Cars Dealership to ask some questions about getting a dead dashboard and noisy rattle in the boot fixed for a second hand Lotus Exige they had bought. After a bit of conversation it turns out that the Mighty Car Mods crew had bought themselves a very rare Lotus Exige S 240 coupe.

 

 

WHAT IS THE LOTUS EXIGE S 240?

Between 2007 & 2011 there were only six special edition Lotus Exige S 240 sports cars imported into Australia from the one off build run worldwide. These included 3 x in Blaze Orange Metallic & 3 in Sapphire Black Metallic. The Mighty Mods Exige is Build No. 4 of 6. The two door sports car was given a slight power increase to 240 horsepower (179kW). Keep in mind this was around 10 years ago and in a chassis that weighs less than 1,000kgs. The 0-100 km/h time was around 4 seconds with the combination of light weight chassis and incredible power. 

 

To put that in perspective vs a few more current coupe's available;

- 2017 Toyota 86; 153kW at around 1,200kgs
- 2020 Toyota Supra; 250kW at around 1,500kgs
- 2016 onwards BMW M2; 272kW at between 1,495-1,625kgs depending on spec
 

 

Apart from a power upgrade the S 240 Exige had;

  - Upgraded AP Racing front disc brakes aka our "big brake" kit
  - Cup 255 extended roof scoop pushing air into the supercharger intercooler
  - Traction-control system that let you choose from 11 different settings. One through 10 allow you to control slip, one being the least amount, 10 being a bunch, and the 11th setting being traction completely off.
  - Black senosoft interior finish
  - Black leather trim with orange stitching & embroidery
  - Touring plus pack or the Sport/Super Sport packs depending on the spec
  - Air conditioning
 - Limited Slip Differential
 - Lotus Sport 240R forged wheels in silver (on the Sapphire Black models, & Black wheels on the others)
 - Uprated Clutch
 - Uprated injectors
  - 240 ECM map

 

Yes, even we will admit that not everything comes down purely to power and weight plus there can be a lengthy debate about the daily driving capabilities of various two door sports cars vs the more purposeful Exige. Many people will research sports cars for track use and completely forget about weight & this becomes hugely important when you consider the impact it can have on the wear and tear on the vehicle, let alone driving performance.

 

So if you are looking to buy a sports car for under $100K that is a solid base to modify and want a true drivers car that is very focussed, then a Lotus should be on the consideration list to use as a track car. The combination of incredible chassis & solid Toyota engine / drivetrain make it a formiddable combination and its why we won so many Australian Production Car racing events over the years.

 

 

IS A LOTUS EXIGE
A GOOD TRACK CAR?

Apart from it's outright performance capabilities, the driving experience is like nothing else, even by today's standards. From the driving position to the non-power assisted steering or formula racing car-like suspension set up - everything has been designed from an engineering perspective to deliver a pure driving experience, it's for driving purists, someone who enjoys a manual gearbox and the enjoyment from feeling everything through the seat of your pants or fingertips.

 

What elevates everything even more is the lack of weight, everything becomes more tactile & you feel part of the driving experience compared to more modern cars that are heavily insulated, have lots of electronics, electronic steering mechanisms or fancy trick suspension. Driving an Exige as a track car is a bit like winding back the clock and enjoying the simple art of driving.

 

The other thing that makes an Elise or Exige the perfect track car in Australia is the fact that the running costs are relatively low. A large contributor to this is the Toyota sourced drivetrain components which are solid, reliable & pack a punch when combined with supercharging & Lotus engine electronics expertise. Although what many owners don't consider is how weight plays a part in the ongoing cost of consumables for a sports car. All of these components have to deal with the forces of 1,200kgs+ in most cases being thrown around a race track, it's like carrying 3 or 4 extra people in the car with you compared to an Exige or Elise. Items to consider can include; 

 - Tyres
 - Brake pads
 - Brake discs
 - Wheel bearings & hubs
 - Suspension mounts

 

When you combine that with A) the regular Track Day Events we do, B) the range of performance modifications we can help with C) the ability to suport people who are interested in doing motorsport then all of a sudden you have a package that includes a high performance sports car for track days plus a car dealership that helps people use their car all year round.

 

IS A LOTUS EXIGE
A SUPERCAR?

Want to join the debate? One of the slightly more contriversial topics came up about whether the Exige is a sports car or a supercar. Read the Mighty Car Mods article and join the debate "The difference between supercars and hypercars" 

 

 

WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO
THE LOTUS EXIGE SO FAR?


PHASE 1
The guys run through the little problems they found with the car which weren't too bad considering it's age. Richie and Lee looked over the car and it looks pretty solid with the major issue being the dashboard that wasn't functioning. This could have been replaced with a factory unit although Lotus have just released a retro-fit upgrade for Elise & Exige models which is the AIM Electronic Dashboard that not only replaces the analogue instruments, but will do things like lap timing and data logging.

 

So rather than buying extra equipment or trying to use Harry's Lap Timer on your phone you can have everything done in your existing vehicles dashboard that is downloaded to a computer for review later. Better yet, it detects what track you are using the build in GPS & uploads the track file for you.

 

The items upgraded so far include;
- The AIM Dash as mentioned above
- One of our SSC designed sports exhausts
- The SSC designed intake / induction kit


PHASE 2 
Nothing else was changed on the Exige S240 by Simply Sports Cars or the Might Mods crew as the idea was to take the car as is & have the first run at a track day to see what it was like. It would be the first time either guys had driven a mid engined, two seater sports car like the Exige so they were keen to compare the differences to their other builds like their BRZ.

 

Normally if one of our Clients came to us with the specific brief of creating a track day focussed sports car we would sit down and create a plan that worked through all the key areas such as;
- tyres
- brakes
- suspension
- seating
- oil management
- cooling
- safety for things like belts, Hans device, safety kill switches or fire extinguisher etc


Our aim is to work up an end to end strategy to deliver a mixture of safety, performance and reliability especially when you are on a track. Some owners will do this in stages & other times everything gets done as a complete job so this will vary based on owner preference and also the age of the vehicle.

 

The Exige S240 is a solid base car to work with because of the various factory upgrades it has as standard but given its age and the lack of previous owner history you can never be too careful. Normally our team would run a spanner from top to tail and look at everything from suspension to electricals. In this situation the Might Mods crew wanted to be hands on and go through the journey to learn about the car & discover things at their own pace.

 

Following the first track day it was decided to look at a few areas;


- Driver training / familiarity with this type of sports car; it was their first time in a mid engined high performance sports car. An Elise or Exige drives very much like a formula single seater with a different weight balance requiring a completely different driving approach vs a front engined real wheel drive sports car or even a 4WD sedan. For many first timers it can be a daunting excercise but once the technique is mastered it becomes a driving enthusiasts pleasure with the ability to drive a car with absolute precision.

 


- Age and condition of the tyres; two or three year old tyres might be ok to be used but a lot depends on how they are used or treated. Everything from storage conditions to how they are driven in relation to pressures, heat cycles and other factors can effect their performance greatly. So after doing a few sessions it was noted that this set of tyres had perhaps seen their best days & moving to the stickier Kumho R Spec typres would better suit their application.

 

 

- Suspension geometry; sometimes the smallest of details can make the biggest differences and Richie set about doing a full check over the suspension set up of the car on our flat patch. What we discovered was the front ride height was slightly higher than factory which adjusted the rake of the car. The assumption was it had been raised for daily driving use or not adjusted properly after being replaced previously.

We don't have the history to know but the lesson here is that you never know what adjustments vs factory settings have been made to any second hand vehicle, especially sports cars, so it is wise to have it inspected / checked before doing high speed track day driving.


 

- Supercharger / power; for first time Lotus owners we usually recommend spending as much seat time as possible to get familiar with the different characteristics of a mid engined vehicle on a track. Getting comfortable with the different techniques needed for steering, braking & managing the weight transfer is one of the critical areas to develop when you own a Lotus to do performance driving on the track.


So in most instances we suggest owners look at things like tyres, brakes, seat harness & suspension before moving to looking at power upgrades. That way some of the baseline fundamentals are being considered when it comes to stopping and turning before trying to go faster.
 

The MCM guys have quite a bit of track experience already and wanted to accelerate their journey so they had our Harrop TVS1320 supercharger kit upgrade installed by Richie and Lee (but retaining the air to air cooling) which gave the Exige 240S around 190Kw at the rear wheels in a sub 1,000kg car. The Simply Sports Cars Engineering Team developed the TVS1320 Kit for the Lotus Exige with the focus on improving thermal efficiency rather than outright power.

 

 

 

WHAT COULD
BE UPGRADED
ON A LOTUS EXIGE ?

We've been asked this question a lot over the last few weeks and its a fair question considering the performance of the Lotus Exige in standard form and the extra upgrades this two door sports car has from the factory. Although the real answer to this question will come down to the intended use for the vehicle. It would be easy for us to recommend lots of various motorsport related upgrades but our philosphy is more about creating a platform that satisfies the intended use - that way you will get more satisfaction from the vehicle without spending money on things that aren't needed.

 

Based on how the second hand Lotus Exige was bought, the potential next steps included;
- Replacing the old Yokohama AD08R Tyres with a softer compound, more track day focussed tyre.
- SSC Toe Link Kit (especially if there will be more track day use)
- Upgrading the supercharger to the TVS1320 Kit
- Upgrading from air to air cooling for the supercharger to a fully charge cooled system
- Looking at the suspension upgrades to move to 2 or 3 way adjustable Nitrons
- Upgrading the rear brakes to be 2 pot calipers for more stopping power
- Upgrading the brake pads to use a more agressive pad material.
 

Other than, for most second hand Lotus Exige sports cars the next level becomes a lot more track focussed where we'd consider a limited slip differential (although this car has one already), looking at a built engine with stronger internals, things like gearbox upgrades, larger fuel tank, weight saving by removing some of the interior & boot elements and even a roll cage. Although all of this really comes back to where and how the car will be used and in the case of this vehicle it's life will probably be a mix of road and track so some of these extreme modifications won't be necessary.

 

 

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