Event>> Lotus Day Japan 2011 – Pt.1

To begin the Lotus Day Japan coverage I thought I'd quickly run through the amazing showing from the various owners clubs that were present…

…before going into the pits and taking a look at what was hiding in there, cars like this lightly tuned Evora.

You can also expect some Caterham goodness with some of the coolest and rawest models currently available.

But before we get going I have to show you guys this stunning widebody Exige…

…from Outer Plus. To boost performance the Toyota motor has been turbocharged and features a rear-mounted intercooler.

This thing had lots of presence!

Caterham Japan had a great display and this particular stripped chassis was used to show just why these things are so damn light.

There are very few cars out there that can keep up with one of these R500s through the twisties, or pretty much anywhere else for that matter. With 263 HP and only 516 kg to haul around you can imagine the ballistic performance this car can unleash.

Carbon and Kevlar are the order of the day in the cramped interior and if you look at the shift pattern on the gear lever you will notice this particular car has been fitted with the optional 6-speed sequential transmission. This beast can hit 60 mph from rest in 2.88 sec. Now if only I could squeeze my fat ass in one of these I'd take one out for a spin! Talking to Justin from Caterham Japan there is the option of removing the seat all together to allow my slightly above average frame to slip into the R500…an experiment we will have to see the outcome of shortly.

If the R500 is too extreme there are plenty of other models to choose from and you can personalize these cars in so many ways thanks to the tons of parts and options available. 

Justin had set up a cool little Scaletrix track in one of the pits to raise some money for Tohoku. 100 Yen for a 20-lap time attack session and the fastest time of the day would win a Caterham t-shirt. Every time I took a break I couldn't help but play around for a bit.

It brought back memories from when I was a kid and used to remove the magnets from under the cars to make them drift around the corners. After much experimentation I found out a bit of talcum powder would work wonders at making the surface a little more slippery to hang the tail out for longer! I see these days they have incorporated the magnet within the under side of the cars! Boo hoo! 

Lotus Esprit S2 on Hayashi Racing wheels.

There is something so cool seeing an exposed engine through the rear glass!

The awkwardly styled Lotus Europa enjoys quite a following in Japan and the guys from Body Shop Happy came out to the event along with what looked like every single one of their customers.

Every car was uniquely finished with either custom colors and running all sorts of mouthwatering vintage rims.

Some, as always, take things a little bit more seriously than others! Yes it's all carbon!

The little classic Elan is a little rarer and it was very nice seeing so many spotless and well looked after examples…

…including this Elan +2, the first one I've ever seen. Simply beautiful.

There was even a pair of 1989 M100 Elans. Back in its day the M100 was very much liked by the motoring press and often regarded as the best front wheel drive car around. This was when the Peugeot 205 GTi was king of the hot hatch and a few years before Honda came up with the Integra Type-R which pretty much re-wrote the rule book when it came to FF engineering.

Ever wondered where Mazda got its inspiration for the Roadster/Miata/MX-5?

Yet more 2-Elevens out in the paddock.

I would really like to find out more info on this rather special Elise. I wonder how many kilograms the all-carbon body saves.

Most of the guys participating in the Cup races had their own pit crew. That's that way to do it!

That's it for part one, I'll dive more into the historic cars that were on show next, along with all those beautiful F1 racers from the 50s and 60s!

Lotus Japan

Caterham Japan

Lotus Day Japan 2011 coverage on Speedhunters 

-Dino Dalle Carbonare



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I was just wondering. Were there any of the more modern cars there with a toyota badge ala the age old bogan trend of a chevy badge on a holden.


Everything is beautiful!!!! Keep it coming!!!


@ Andrew: Why would they? Only the engine is from Toyota, everything else is Lotus? Or do you mean Proton?

However, a Kia badge on one of the M100 Elans, now there's a possibility…


So many Europes! We need a photo shot of you standing next to one to show how low they are.

The all carbon one is beautiful. You can't get that kind of moire with a wrap!

Happy's all carbon Elise is for sale.



Loving that yellow S2, perfect on those wheels :)


Why are there two Speedhunters logos in the second to last picture?


I'm not sure an all carbon body elise would be much lighter at all than a standard one, in fact it may even be heavier. I don't have density figures to hand, would be interesting to see some numbers.


Only the engine for a Holden is from Chevy...Doesn't stop people doing it though...


So the Carbon body should save a lot of weight. The Elise/Exige fiberglass body is known to be very thick in spots to aid strength, and therefore is very heavy. It's one of the items that adds so much weight to the S2 Elise/Exige when compared to S1 Elise/Exige.


"There was even a pair of 1989 M100 Elans. Back in its day the M100 was very much liked by the motoring press and often regarded as the best front wheel drive car around... ...a few years before Honda came up with the Integra Type-R which pretty much re-wrote the rule book when it came to FF engineering."

Speed Hunters, are you on drugs? The US Spec Elan M100, introduced in 1989 (and unchanged through its model life), measures .89 g on the skid pad. The US Spec Integra Type R, introduced in 1995, measures .88 g on the skid pad. That's .01 less and six years later.

The M100 is one of only a handful of FWD cars built with long arm double wishbone front and rear suspension. It brought road race suspension to front wheel drive. The Integra is strut on short lower trailing arm, just like nearly every other mid 90's FWD car (Protege, Sentra, etc.). And the M100 had a soft, luxury ride, while the Integra Type R has a harsh, street tuner ride. The M100 was built to be a comfortable commuter car, the only lotus not to suffer from water leaks and/or electrical fires, and manages Esprit beating handling in a car that can be daily driven for 200,000 miles.

What gave Integra Type R a reputation was 195 HP and a standard limited slip differential. The additional 35 HP and lsd help acceleration, not handling.

The Integra Type R rewrote the rulebook for aftermarket parts availability. Anyone with a $5,000 limit on their credit card can buy, "off the shelf", every single thing needed to turn an Integra Type R into a track car. The difficult part is choosing from all the available options. For the M100, like many other cars, there is next to nothing available for true racing.

However, there are those spending years and a small fortune to build old FWD cars that will out handle even today’s benchmarks such as the Lotus Elise and Exige. As an example, I submit the following: a late 80’s economy car, with a non-turbo, 130 HP engine and rear beam axle. It beat three drivers in an Exige S 240 Cup car, and all the Integra Type Rs.





Damn, what a great event! I didn't realize how much I liked the cars from this brand. And that combined with the creative Japanese tuning, it's a tasty mix.

By the way... I have always wondered why there are so many Lotus Europas in Japan. Dino, can you answer this?


Great shots!


Oh how I would love to take an R500 out for a spin!



That did occur to me shortly after posting, I naivly presumed the elise relied on its internal structure to provide all support, and that bodywork was just a flexy fibreglass part stuck on for aero.


Hi All's

I'm an europa S1 owner,i've just discovered your website. Nice pictures, nice guys do not hesitate to post some comments on my blog. I should like happy to exchange some stories or help hand with you




Makoyto, the Type R did not have Mac struts until the DC5 body style.


Yep, The Honda DC2, the proper TypeR, is double wishbone all round.


Comparing an Integra to an Elan? Too much crack usage going on here.


Honda Fan Boys, Integra Type R has STRUTS: 51605-ST7-Z01, 51606-ST7-Z01 !

Get over yourselves.

As Makoto stated, the Elan has LONG suspension arms, nearly half the width of the vehicle with the center mounting points attached to the center backbone frame channel, and extending out nearly to the edge of the fenders. Lotus went so far as to use narrow spindles, and DEEP 60MM OFFSET WHEELS. All for maximum arm length and optimal geometry through the range of suspension motion.

The Integra: SHORT ARMS. It's an economy car with a big engine. It's not a sports car. It's not the best handling front drive car. The Elan IS.