The World's Fastest Lotus?

Uploaded by drive on 20.03.2012


MATT FARAH: When we first started The Smoking Tire, I
came up with a T-shirt.
And on the back it said, "Yes officer, that was us." Now
today, that slogan seems more appropriate than ever because
this car behind me is more likely to send you to jail
than anything I've ever driven.
Now let me explain why.
It's because this Lotus sitting behind me has a 50%
better power-to-weight ratio than a Bugatti Veyron, the
fastest car in the world.
Now if you can imagine how crazy that is in a straight
line, think about this.
This car is widened by nine inches, on a stock wheelbase,
and it weighs 2,150 pounds.
Let that marinate for a second.

It's hard to describe how it feels to drive a car with so
much power and so little weight.
But I'm going to try.
But that's going to require a back story.
I think that to properly understand this car, you need
to hear the whole story.
You need to meet Frank.

We were supposed to drive this car weeks ago.
But three days before the shoot, Frank called and told
me he'd found metal in the oil pan.
Long story short, the motor was out of the car, and the
pistons were on a work bench.
Not good.
We shot the shop anyway, but we weren't prepared for what
kind of shop built this car.
For example, the Bugatti Veyron was built in a factory
that's on a restored chateau estate in Molsheim, in France.
I don't know where that is, but the name sounds expensive.
This car was not built in a place like that.
It was built in Lancaster, California.
There's no grass anywhere.
The shop is literally on the other side of the tracks, and
the owner tells us, quote, "Things get interesting around
here after dark.
Why people are still in this town after the invention of
cars and U-Haul trucks, I will never know." There's no sign,
no tour, no white floors, and no chef.
There's barely a bathroom.
FRANK PROFERA: I've been screwing with
cars since I was 19.
I was a New York City cab driver.
I kind of got an idea of what I didn't want to drive.
And when I lived in New York at the time I had a Volkswagen
camper and a CJ5 Jeep.
But as soon as I moved to California in '79 and went
through the canyons, it was like, OK.
I've got to get a sports car.
I've always looked at cars for acceleration
rather than top speed.
I've had GT40s, I've had 427 Cobras, a
Lamborghini Miura SV.
But my thing is driving in the canyons.
And the fastest car I've owned in the canyons was my old Ford
RS200 Evolution.
And I built that up to 900 horsepower, and it did 0 to 60
in under two seconds.
This car is faster.
It's so fast because I met Mike, and then we started
screwing with things.
And Mike's kind of open-minded after you hit him with a
hammer a couple of times.
MIKE STAFFORD: It wasn't enough power.
He wanted more.
He wanted more.
And he wanted more.
Just a little bit more.
And pretty soon we go from a Garrett 3076 to a Billet 6262.
And then he says, well, the power is good, but
now it's too slow.
I can't accelerate in fifth gear.
I'm like, you have more gears than that.
He says, no, I want to be accelerating in fifth gear on
the freeway, without any turbo lag.
And I said, well, we don't have a whole
lot of options, here.
You have this size of turbo for your top-end power.
I thought the lag actually wasn't that bad, but Frank had
a different idea.
And he came into the shop one day to complain about
something because that's what Frank does.
FRANK PROFERA: At first with the turbo alone, there was
just massive lag up to about 4,200 RPM.
And the only way to spool the turbo up faster was either to
go smaller and then lose power, or come up with a
compound system very much like the Lancia Delta S4, the Group
B rally car from '86.
They were the first to use a compound-charge setup in a
four-cylinder application.
And I, of course, borrowed that idea.
MIKE STAFFORD: I had a supercharger
setup on the Celica.
And we were toying with the idea of combo-charging.
We hadn't done it yet, just thinking about it.
Frank says, I want that.
I said, well, I just spent three months designing this
for somebody else's car.
I said, I can't build you one that fast.
And so he goes, fine.
Two days later he shows up at my shop with a VF supercharger
kit and said, here, make this work.
And so we cut the manifold all up because the plenum wasn't
big enough.
And we redesigned the air intake on it.
And then we ended up proceeding to build an entire
combo-charger system in about--
it showed up on a Tuesday, I think, and Friday night we
drove the car.
It was a little ridiculous.
MIKE STAFFORD: Matt's going to scream like a
little school girl.
He's never been in anything this fast, and I don't care
what he says.
There's nothing that accelerates like
this out of a corner.
There's no Evo, there's no Cobras, no GT40s, there's no
Hennessey Venom.
There's no bike that can pull out of a corner like this car.
MATT FARAH: What kind of person would build a Lotus
with 680 wheel horsepower?
The only kind of person I can think of that would do that is
someone who's used to crazy, over the top cars, and just
had to have the fastest, nuttiest car anywhere.

The power-to-weight ratio of a Veyron is 4.15 pounds per
The power-to-weight ratio of the E900 GTR is 3.89 pounds
per horsepower.
The power-to-weight ratio of a 1978 Lotus Formula One car is
2.8 pounds per horsepower.

I feel like I'm in Spaceballs.

Ludicrous speed!

I swear, Yogurt lives in that shop somewhere.
It's got liquid Schwartz.

The Lotus Exige comes with a supercharger, makes 240
Those who want to go faster traditionally swap out for a
Frank was unsatisfied with either of those solutions and
went with both.

Now normally with a setup like that, you'd
have to run race gas.
But race gas is annoying and hard to find in California.
So what Frank did is set up a dual-stage fuel system.
So you fill up one tank with pump gas, and you fill up the
other tank with isopropyl alcohol, just like
you find at a CVS.
And the combination of the two, once you get over a
certain amount of boost, the alcohol kicks in.
And it basically is an E85 setup on the fly.
The shifter is about the shortest shifter I've ever
used in my life.
The rig he built for it is crazy, and it's connected to a
Toyota MR2 transmission with a custom bellhousing.
Now why go with a Toyota MR2 five speed
instead of a six speed?
Basically, it's the only transmission that
would hold the power.
And he's been through a few of them.

This car is nine inches wider than stock.
It's got crazy, custom suspension in it.
It's got AP racing, giant brake kit.

Here we go.
[LAUGHS], yeah.
A racing class that was canceled because the cars were
too fast and people were dying, and that's his idea of
a good time.
I'll be honest.
It's mine, too.

This is the coolest sound ever.
This is like the Fast and the Furious kids got some money.

This thing is so wild.

2,150 pounds, over 700 horsepower in the crank, from
a 1.8-liter engine.
You know, everyone else wants to swap motors in these
things, Hennessey strap-in twin-turbo V8s into them,
changing the wheelbase.
It's like a slot car.
I used to race slot cars when I was a kid.
And a slot car has tons of grip
right up until it doesn't.
And when you lose it, it flies off the track and hits
somebody in the face.
This is like that, but replace "track" with "road," and
"face" with "cliff."
On the one hand it's such a race car.
It's so over the top, it's so fast and light and powerful,
and everything comes through the steering wheel.
On the other hand, the way the power is delivered is so
simple and progressive that I'm not really ever
surprised by it.
You know, that GTR really jumped out and
bit me in the ass.
After five minutes behind the wheel in this, I'm carving
canyons, I'm heel-toeing properly, the power comes on
how I expect it to come on.
And therefore, I'm surprised at how little the car feels
like it wants to kill me.

Is this probably the most customized Lotus in the world?
I'm going to have to think, yes.
But the dual-stage setup here is not gas and alcohol.
It's actually rocket fuel and liquid Schwartz.

That's so fast.
It's an interesting car, this.
People would say things like, too much power, or the
power-to-weight ratio makes it uncontrollable or something.
But I actually found it to be the opposite.
I think that because the throttle is so progressive,
because the power comes on predictably, it's strangely
quite usable.
I mean, it's not remotely practical, and it's loud and
it breaks a lot.
But once you're in it and once you're driving, it actually
feels quite natural.
And I sort of wish all Lotuses were like that, to
tell you the truth.
So one more drive, one more day, and the fastest car I've
ever driven, once again.
I'd like to thank Mike at Stafford Performance for
having us out at his shop in Lancaster.
I'd like to thank Frank for having us behind the wheel of
his bat [BLEEP]
crazy Lotus.
And check out his website,
And until then, the only thing left to say is that this might
be the world's fastest Lotus, unless John Hennessey wants to
give us a call and we can find out for sure.
Until next time, I'm Matt Farah.
And you've been watching Tuned, right here
on the Drive Network.