“Simplify, then add lightness”
That was the philosophy of Lotus Cars founder and design engineer Colin Chapman, and words which the company pretty much still lives by today. I say ‘pretty much’, because part of me wonders just what Mr Chapman would make of the not-very-simple-and-not-very-light Evija?
I digress. This past weekend, one of our favourite automotive establishments, Caffeine & Machine, opened its doors under the ethos of ‘LightSpeed’. The idea? Come down in something svelte and/or fast, park up, grab some food and drink and have a wander around a chin-wag.
Oh, and don’t be a dick when leaving.
The concept of ‘adding lightness’ is something that any enthusiast will be familiar with. It’s not just Lotus that subscribe to this train of thought either, and there’s a whole genre of track toys that exist purely to cater for those who want to reap the benefits of added lightness.
At the cost of sacrificing come creature comforts of course – who needs seat padding, doors, or a windscreen anyway?
When tuning more road-friendly cars, adding lightness is often the cheapest way to gain performance – if it’s not needed, or you can live without the comfort provided by it, then out it goes. The lighter you are, the faster you accelerate, the faster you stop and the better you turn.
If you want to spend a bit of money adding lightness, then there’s a plethora of aftermarket goods and materials to serve you well. Lightweight composites and metals are the order of the day – no matter how small a single saving seems on its own, once added together every kilogram counts.
Unsprung weight is a biggie – the lighter that you can make any component that’s not supported by the car’s suspension (without compromising safety and durability), the bigger the benefits – mainly when it comes to handling. The less unsprung weight, the less work the suspension is doing in order to maintain grip.
Then there’s a lot of weight that you can’t see – rotational mass is another crucial area. The lighter that you can make anything that spins, moves or turns, the less energy is consumed in order to make it do so. That applies to everything from the flywheel to the driveshafts, wheels, tyres, brakes and all.
Caffeine & Machine’s ‘all-inclusive’ policy meant that of course they weren’t going to turn away the slightly more lardy machines (although me rolling up in a 1,700kg V8 estate car secured me a parking spot around the back out of sight).
Part of the charm of this place is never knowing what you’re going to see, although these themed weekends do help shift the balance towards one particular niche or another.
Anyway, waffle over. I’ll let the photos do the talking – enjoy the gallery below…