There are days where things just don’t go your way. Then there are days like last Friday.
I was shooting near the beach in the beautiful Southern California city of Malibu, when I stumbled upon this marvel of a street car.
This 2005 Lotus Elise was simply one of the most extensively modified street cars I’ve ever seen on the street.
So let’s back up a bit. Motegi wheels is a sponsor of Team Need for Speed drivers Fredric Aasbo and Matt Powers. They also happen to sponsor IndyCar driver Townsend Bell. He is a factory Lotus driver and will be driving in the American Le Mans Series this year for Team Lotus Alex Job Racing. I was out to get some shots of Townsend, along with a brand new Lotus Evora S.
I thought it was interesting when Townsend told me he has not driven a manual gearbox in many years. I guess it’s like riding a bicycle, you just never forget once you know how to do it. He did not stall.
He may have gotten the Evora a bit sideways, but it was all in the name of good photography. Afterwards we decided to check out some more shooting locations and went for a nice Friday afternoon drive through the canyons.
Lo and behold we came across this beast of a Lotus.
Naturally, we stopped to check it out. At this point we pretty much forgot about the Evora.
Frank Profera is the owner and he built this car from the ground up. He was super cool about showing us his pride and joy. It turns out he checks out Speedhunters every day.
He told us about some of the amazing cars he has owned in the past,
including a Lancia Delta S4, Lancia Stratos and a 900hp street legal
Ford RS200E. This Lotus was all business and was built to tackle the twisties of the Southern California Nurburgring.
Frank admits this car is just too fast for him to handle at ten tenths on the track.
However, he enjoys driving it in the canyons, keeping up with knee dragging sport bike riders. He never ever crosses the center dividing line and he never drives past his limits.
He bought the car brand new in 2005 and started to take it apart the very next day. He custom made many things on this car, including the shifter assembly, which connects to a 95′ MR2 Turbo gearbox.
It’s definitely an interesting story how this car came about. Frank sold his rally cars and hit the high seas with his sail boat for a few years. After eight years of not driving a serious performing car on the track or in the twisties, he decided it was time to build the ultimate canyon carver.
Nothing was compromised when he set out to build this dream Lotus.
Even with air conditioning this car weighs just 2150 lbs thanks to the vast amount of lightweight dry carbon parts.
The mid engine monster is running a Toyota 1.8L with a Precision Billet 6262 Ball Bearing Turbo, which feeds into a Magnuson MP62 supercharger.
That’s right boys and girls, this thing is compound charged, which means instant boost response at any rpm, and in any gear.
To keep the temps down on this bad boy, it has two radiators and six cooling fans.
Townsend didn’t really know what to say. He was impressed to say the least.
Being a factory Lotus driver, he had to drive the car. So he asked. Frank did not hesitate one bit.
Needless to say, Townsend was excited, but I wondered how was it possible that he was giddy as a school girl from this street car, when he drives IndyCars for a living.
I just went along with it, and listened in on the quirky things that needed to be explained about the car before he took it out.
With the motor warmed up, Townsend had a whooping 680 wheel horse power at 36psi on tap and ready to go. He took off slowly, like the cool and calm professional race car driver he is.
Let me tell you guys, this thing moved like a bat out of hell. It goes from 0-60 in about two seconds.
With UTQG 30 tread wear tires on all four corners, it did not take long for them to warm up.
Within moments the car was gone…
All we heard was the noise of the exhaust reverberating off of the adjacent mountains…
…then it reappeared, still in one piece might I add.
When he returned, he had an emotionless face. He climbed out and he yelled “This is the fastest freakin’ thing I have ever driven.”
It’s interesting to me when I’m with race car drivers outside of an event, because I always try to talk about things other than cars or racing. But some how our conversation always moves toward that direction. It shows just how passionate they are about car culture and racing. They live it, and breath it in their daily lives.
I very much see Townsend as just a guy who likes cars, kind of like me and the rest of the Speedhunters crew.
2005 Lotus Elise
1.8 ltr. Toyota 2ZZ
680 whp @36 psi.
2150 lbs. with A/C
Dual staged fuel injection.
Mitch Pederson tuned AEM engine management
AIM MXL dash
9/1 Wiesco pistons
Carrillo H beam rods
RS Machine Darton wet sleeved block
Stage 2 cams
Precision Billet 6262 Ball Bearing Turbo
Precision 48mm wastegate
Custom equal length manifold
4″ stainless exhaust
Magnuson MP 62 supercharger
Custom A/W charge cooler with 4x heat exchangers
Two custom engine radiators to handle the heat.
6x cooling fans
Remote oil cooler with fan
Custom short shifter
Toyota E153 gearbox
AP 4 pot Lotus Racing brakes
Pagid R14 pads
Kodiak Racing Wheels 7.5 x 16 10.5 x 18
Kuhmo V 710 front 215/40/16 rear 285/30/18
Nitron Shocks, Eibach Springs
Dry carbon fiber..
Canards, splitter, mirrors, seats, door panels, door sills, dash, roof, rocker panels, flairs, naca ducts and wing.
Love the comments on youtube that he argues with. 15 year olds that don't know anything try to argue how a GTR is better, lol.
would be nice to have his AEM series 2 fuel map and settings. Or hang out with the people that pulled this off.
DUDE! About damn time this RONIN ELISE got a spot somewhere! This badboy has been around for YEARS! Ive followed this car forever, canyon runs, the different rims this guy goes through... its just an all around perfect car! Thanks, Speedhunters for bringing RONIN into the light!
lol......and the if it's not how I want it we start from scratch until it's the best of the best and so far there is no better 1.8 ltr 2ZZ out there.... :-) We are like the freakin odd couple and as I said if I can prove Mike wrong he does it my way and he knows his stuff and I know mine.....Shifter linkage has been done more that once as most of the car... This car is built the way " I want it " and if I had a lift and welded it would be exactly as it is.... I'm glad Mike is my buddy and the only guy I know with asbestos hands that can deal with a mental case when it comes to making it the best freakin Lotus... If you want crap that will do what you want, beat it into Mike and he will build it as you want it.. lol Yo Chuckles 150 shot next ? lol
Ronin - what a monster you've brought forth here. From the 36psi, to the extensive body work, to the custom and extremely beautiful cnc'd shift linkage set up, everything about this car is making the ten year old in me quite giddy. Cars with this level of devotion aren't common, and to see so many good ideas crammed into an exige... This is automotive pornography. If the commentariat isn't indication enough, we fkn love your car. It's like Forza 4 but in real life. Only without the rewind button, just 285's, skill, and courage to keep you aimed at the next apex. Bravo sir, for realizing the dream of millions.
Yeah MIke you're pretty much my hero. I watched your spunky canyon run long ago and I researched everything I could about your car back then. I've got an STi myself but owning an Exige will happen at some point in my life due to your video! Wonderful ride and I'm so glad speedhunters found out about your car :)
Well first off this is a place to post remarks about the car not the owner or fabricator or painter or tuner . That being said hats off to mitch bad ass tuner made the car sing like a rockstar! As for me and frank it's truly a love hate relationship. My shop is quite unique I don't have a counter and a catolog. I don't install cold air intakes and mufflers . Not that there's anything wrong with that however 99% of my customers have a vision of what they want but can't buy it! So they show up here to build it .I love cars and my customers love their cars and I get to help them make their dream car a reality. I don't want to steal the experience and joy of building their vision of the perfect car . I will let qualified customers be involved with the hands on build. Me and frank go rounds on how things have to work !! We don't allways agree but he is no check writer .he knows what he wants and then we go head to head on how to make it happen! Perfect example the shifter . That's franks vision of location and design I can't Argue with him it works it's in the right spot and looks sweet, however the linkage underneath that connects to the trans that's where the real magic takes place . But no matter how I build it it has to feel smooth and flawless to the guy holding the still . The reality is my job is to make the customers dream come true with or with out reconigtion but I do appreciate nice commints on the build . When frank starts to tell me how to build the engine I just say ok and wait for him to go home :) .
one of the best cars ever featured on this site, terrific find and props to the owner for constructing a work of art
Maybe you missed the part when I said "my friend and I built this sucker". My idea/money and our work. "We" built the compound setup in four days straight from cut and chop to powder-coat...and more five hour energy drink than I can remember...If you want the real build history check out my forum http://www.lotussport.org/index.php and get the whole story about a 160 whp to 680 whp compound charged rocket pig Or should I post up pics of bloody knuckles ? How about the countless hours of and expense of dyno time and the weeks of street tuning to get it right...... Every dam pice on this car was done my way by "us" out in Lancaster Ca. If it broke "we" fixed it....sometimes I fixed it under the car on my garage floor or on the side of the road.. I didn't write the article but I built the car with my buddy's help since I don't have a shop of my own any more..Wait until you see the Tuned video and you'll see the hole in the wall this car came out of.. :-) Checks don't build shit like this.... Give Mike a call. Mike Stafford 661-886-2700
You know what I find pretty messed up about a lot of these builds... is the fact that a lot of people say they built cars that they didn't build. I don't doubt that this ronin guy didn't help but i'm a fabricator myself. And i'll tell you guys that this car needed a hell of a lot of fab work. Sucks that the fabricator who made someone's dreams into an actual reality got no credit until he posted about how he wasn't mentioned. Talk about absurd... and embarrasing.. It's a cool car and all, and looks like a LOT of money wen't into it..but I just feel bad for the fabricator. What was the guys name again? and how do I reach him?
Matt, looking foward to the Tuned review. I can't wait to take Larry for a drive so that he can get the full tilt effect of this car.. If you guys watch any of my U Tube videos remember I'm not racin, I'm just takin a easy drive in a car that can do just about anything the driver wants it to do... Yeah the car is noisy but my custom headphones take care of that since there are no speakers. It still has working AC for a cool ride back from the canyons... And yes it has gone through a few broken engines and gearboxes but it was all in the name of R&D with each rebuild making the car faster and never breaking the same part twice... Last rebuild was due to snapping the piston wrist pins due to power not an improper tune. My buddy Mitch Pederson of MPTuning dialed it in perfectly and warned me that the weakest link would be the rods and he was almost right..lol New super strong Carrillo pins have that bit covered now and who knows what it will due at 42 psi... :-) Delta was white. I drove dirt Mulholland quite a bit with it along with the Metro6R4, RS200E, Stratos, Audi Sport Quattro, R5 Turbo Maxi..Cleaning the cars after really sucked. Thanks again guys for all the comments I'm glad you dig the rocket pig as my UK buddies call it. Again I can't wait to take Larry for a little canyon cruise.
Nice find, larry. I just drove this car myself for this coming Monday's episode of Tuned on the DRIVE Network, and i was more than a little impressed myself.
Group B on steroids! Mike, hats off on craftsmanship and skill. Frank, hats off on a vision of purity and vision. Was your Delta Integrale black or dark blue in early nineties "cruising" same are of this shoot? I still have my white CRX with white OZ's from back then. Piuma was freshly paved then! My favorite combo was Yerba Buena Rd., Decker Rd. and everything in between. Mulholland was crowded even back then during a day! We used to cruise during daytime and enjoy following great bikes and cars. 2AM was the only time my friend and I could go all out. Yokos 008's helped! Young and stupid, but we lived to tell the story despite crashes and hospital visits. It is a passion few can understand. I see quite a few more houses got built along the route. Traffic from wannabees must be awful. Not safe at night any more than during a day. The only thing I miss from living down there were those canyons! Hope to meet you Frank one of these days when I make my way down south and check the beast in person. Enjoy that beauty!
The new group B?! Madfaber saids: That guy is my new hero "ive been on a boat for 8 years, you know what i think iam going to build the perfect car now" - I fully, fully agree! ;)
This is an amazing machine and an even more amazing builder/owner. Great coverage, Speedhunters! After being deprived from something you love for a very long time; you will have ideas that are seemingly out of this world. -Bet
Mike Stafford and I built this sucker together in his shop in Lancaster Ca. If you want welds that won't break he's the guy to go to and he will do it your way if you can convince him you're right..... Mike is the guy that can build just about anything with just a welder and a chop saw... lol
Well I guess you've seen the blue Honda civic si that was paid for in full over 8 years ago and he never did the work just like he did to my buddy's yellow srt-4 which he had to part out after owning the car for only a year and a half. I've had thousands of Dollars worth of stuff stolen from his shop and when he took on the lotus project he basically said pound sand to the rest of us. You're praising a man who has made his money and experience through lying an stealing from hard working people. Just remember this shop is on the east side of Lancaster, Ca which is a very bad neighborhood and Mike does not even have a high school diploma and you let him tune your lotus :-/. I've know mike for 12 years and I never thought he would have done this to me I just had to pick up my car from impound because he abandoned my car. I hope all you car guys out there please do some background work on your mechanic because now I have to track all my stolen parts and hopefully he did not sell anything to you that was etched with my qa marking. I'm an aerospace engineer and work many hours and mike took my kindness for weakness and dismissed me if I didn't come by.
This is probably one of the coolest features I've ever seen on speed hunters. That thing is awesome!
haha Frank! Wow so cool man he got a feature. if anyone deserves it he does; the sexiest lotus ever and he is one of the nicest dudes you'll meet. Congrats Frank!
Spoke with Frank Profera for about an hour at the LA Auto Show. Real down to earth and awesome guy! I'm still glad it's in one piece, crazy guy.
Combine chargers? I think I know from where the owner has his inspiration. Did he said he had owned a Lancia Delta S4? There you go! :)
Hey guys I'm glad you dig the car, it's had a few blown engines and tosted gearboxes to get it to this stage but it's right now.. Check out my You Tube channel and you can get a better idea of what it is really like.. http://www.youtube.com/user/roninexige/videos Also checlout Matt Farah's road test on the You Tube Drive network next Monday... He kinda liked it also.. If you guys want to know more about the engine setup check out www.Lotussport.org for the full scoop on this build....
When I read the words, Turbo and Supercharger, I was like, "Did I just read it right???" No lagging there I must say, bet this car can be equated similar to the other hypercars out there but with half the size!
btw can someone remind Motegi that they are supposed to be a consumer company and to make those damn race wheels in a 5 lug s2000 fitment - k - thx
Saw that car at the LA Auto Show and was lucky enough to speak to the builder. Looks amazing here but in person it is even more impressive.
Outrageous street car. Very cool car and a great article too. Will definitely have to share this around!