It’s not uncommon to see people using the phrase ‘built not bought’ in social posts about their cars, but often you’re only looking at basic modifications like wheels, suspension and intake and exhaust upgrades. Sorry, but that does not constitute a car that’s been built not bought.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just doing basic upgrades. Not everyone wants to completely change or chop up their car, and not everyone has the funds to do a full build, and that’s totally fine. Just don’t go pretending that you’ve built a spectacular machine.
Sometimes, though, people do build spectacular machines that totally live up to the ‘built not bought’ mantra. Quentin Boylan is one of those guys, and this Lotus/Mercedes-AMG mash-up might be his wildest creation yet.
It’s interesting how Quentin got to the point of building this custom Exige-based supercar, because in South African tuning circles his name is best known for exploits in crazy-fast Hondas for the strip and street.
Among many, there’s been a now-retired FWD EK Civic that ran a best ET of 8.27-seconds at 290km/h (180mph), and a K24-powered EF Civic Quentin built for his wife (he’s currently also building her a K24 CR-Z with a sequential transmission). Quentin has two new builds on the go now too – a street/drag 4WD K24 turbo EG Civic, and a RWD-converted EK Civic coupe for exclusive quarter-mile duty.Track Aspirations
Quentin has always been a passionate drag racer, but thanks to a trio of brothers and good friends, the Jouberts, over the years he’s developed an appetite for circuit racing as well.
The Jouberts have been developing their Honda-powered Lotus race cars for many years. Dawie Joubert’s white car is powered by a K24 turbo setup running between 700 and 800hp, and has had plenty of success in circuit and hillclimb racing. Charl Joubert’s grey car runs a Honda J35 V6 turbo motor, and this was very competitive too, until he crashed it quite badly at the 2019 Simola Hillclimb. It’s currently being rebuilt and will no doubt return faster than ever.
With the Jouberts running Honda engines and Quentin being such a massive Honda guy, you can see where the inspiration for this Exige street/circuit project originally came from. Of course Quentin had planned to use a Honda motor in this car, but that all changed when his right-hand man Hercules, otherwise known as Tjonkie, swapped a Mercedes-AMG C63’s engine into a Toyota Hilux.Creating Crazy
While a high-power turbo K24 would have gone nicely in Quentin’s Lotus, the idea to use a naturally aspirated Mercedes-AMG engine was actually a very clever one. They could keep the engine stock and therefore reliable, and focus attention on other equally important parts of the build, like the suspension and handling.
To get the project started, a 6.2L M159 SLS AMG V8 engine – which comes with a dry sump from the factory, perfect for a race car – was sourced from Holland, and married up to an Albins ST6-M 6-speed sequential transmission via a custom billet bell-housing from MWAS Systems.
That was the (relatively) easy part; fitting it required a little more brain power and a whole lot of custom chromoly tube-frame work. Chassis engineer Andre Van Aarde was called in for this aspect of the build, and he extended the chassis by 150mm and widened the rear by 100mm, integrating a full roll cage at the same time.Banging Body
Next came the bodywork, which although might look like FRP in the images above, is actually all carbon fiber. The front end design came from a mould that Charl had for his race car, while the rear clam follows the original Exige form – to an extent.
Anton Dekker and Jimmy Staines from Exclusive Conversions worked with wood and body filler to create every curve and detail – like the rear-exiting vents above the front wheels to help disperse brake heat – before making moulds that would eventually create the carbon fiber panels now painted in Quentin’s signature yellow hue.
The front splitter and rear diffuser are just some of the many body parts custom-made for this project, but the wing is a Ferrari F430 GT3 item, which suits the car perfectly and is of course highly functional.
Then there’s the rear engine cover, which gives you a sneak peek of the high-revving V8 gem sitting beneath.Running Gear
As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons to use an AMG engine was its performance and reliability right out of the box. 571hp at 6,800rpm and 650Nm at 4,750rpm is nothing to sneeze at, especially when its sitting in a car as lightweight as this one.
Junior Welding Works built the fuel cell, the custom exhaust, breather box and the revised intakes which are fed through dual K&N air filters.
CME Engineering custom-built the headers, and combined with the exhaust the sound is simply stunning. Tuned through a MoTeC engine management system, the upgrades have resulted in a total output of 575hp and 720Nm at the wheels on 95 octane fuel. Couple that to a weight (with driver) of just 1,100kg (2,425lb), and you don’t need me to tell you how quick it must be.
Surprisingly though, Quentin has ideas of making the car even faster – the 8-second quarters in his Civic are probably to blame for that. He’s looking at a Kleemann supercharger, or may even swap the current engine for an AMG 4.0L bi-turbo V8. The latter would require further modifications to the chassis to make it fit, but Quentin and Hercules are certain it can be done.
As it sits, the naturally aspirated AMG engine provides ample power. Much more than the original Lotus driveshafts could ever handle too, hence why they’ve been replaced – with those from a diesel BMW 7 Series. Strange, I know, but if it works, it doesn’t need to make sense.
In the suspension department you’ll find 3-way adjustable AST 5300 Series dampers, while 6-pot AP Racing Pro 5000R calipers, 2-piece slotted rotors and race pads provide the Lotus with all the stopping power it could ever need.
For wheels, Quentin went with lightweight 3-piece forged GA3Rs from Forgeline’s Motorsport Series, in 18×10-inch front and 18×12-inch rear fitments. On the day we shot, these were wrapped up in Pirelli slicks.Carbon Overload
If you thought the exterior of Quentin’s car was wild, just check out the interior. Carbon-Kevlar is everywhere; the side-steps, dash and seats are all custom-made from the ultra-strong and ultra-light composite material.
An OMP Kubik flat-bottom steering wheel is attached to a Works Bell hub, and above you can see the carbon fibre shifter paddles for the air-actuated transmission.
With MoTeC on ECU duty, it’ll come as no surprise to see a C127 data-logging display unit on metering duty and a MoTeC keypad.
For me, this Lotus-AMG creation is a perfect example of what a custom-built car should be – properly thought out from the get-go and perfectly executed.
Despite being engineered for the circuit, after finishing the build Quentin decided that it’s just too beautiful to risk damaging in competitive racing. Also, being a one-off it’s not something you’d easily be able to rebuild. That said, he does plan on doing some casual track days and maybe a hillclimb event in the future.
Quentin has previously taken it to Zwartkops racetrack though. There, he slapped on some old slicks and handed the reins over to seasoned track driver Lee Thompson, who proceeded to knock out a 1:02 lap right off the trailer. To give you an idea of how fast that is, a Ginetta G57 does a 59-second lap around this 2.4km circuit, but that’s a prototype sports car and definitely not street legal like Quentin’s Exige. With some setup adjustments, I’m sure the Lotus could crack the 1-minute barrier too.
I managed to squeeze in this shoot the afternoon before South Africa went into its Covid-19 lockdown, so much to my disappointment, we didn’t get to take the car out for any driving shots. When life returns to normal, you can be sure that I’ll be hitting up Quentin for a blast in this masterpiece. In the meantime, a couple of quick video clips from the man himself should give you some idea of just how savage it is.