Living Out A Childhood Dream With A Slammed Lotus Esprit

Life really is short, which is why I’m a firm believer in never growing up. Playing with toy cars and modifying my dream Lego build was a world with no worries or woes. Tsuchida-san is prolonging his childhood joy with this Lotus Esprit.

When Tsuchida-san was in the first grade, he was such a good boy that Santa flew all the way to Japan to drop off a supercar encyclopedia to him. Say what you will about the fat bloke in the red jump suit, but he’s responsible for shaping many a child’s destiny.


Flicking through that encyclopedia of foreign and domestic machines ignited the imagination of a young boy. Not content with just looking at those ’70s supercars, Tsuchida-san found there was a way to experience them in the flesh.


But even getting up close to one was a fantasy back then, so Tsuchida-san scaled down his ambitions to a more realistic size. He entered the world of plastic models.


When I first saw pictures of Tsuchida-san’s slammed Lotus Esprit, my mind immediately started to imagine all the potentially cool locations I could shoot it in. My mind conjured up thoughts of rundown industrial parks, traditional mountain villages and lakeside vistas. My heart raced at the thought of capturing rolling shots through city streets or maybe monolithic motorway overpasses. The sound of that sweet little four-pot was palpable.


But some things are too good to be true. Shortly after confirming a date to meet up for a shoot, I got a message from Tsuchida-san with the single most depressing phrase in the Japanese language for a car photographer: hashirenai. Translation: it doesn’t run.

But does the fact that a car doesn’t drive, or even start make it any less special? I’m not sure.


For me, driving is basically the top reason for owning a car, but for Tsuchida-san, his Lotus gives him just as much pleasure as it is, an object. And this is perhaps where he has kept his inner child alive. I think that’s really quite sweet, and something we should all make an effort to remember in our own lives.


In essence, the Lotus has become a real-life incarnation of one of Tsuchida-san’s plastic models. You see, back in the day he would modify models with different wheels, making them lower, wider, changing their colours and customizing them as he wished. He’s done the same with the Lotus and it’s his best model yet.


I decided to make the trip up to Nagano to see the car anyway, knowing that the drive would be fun and there might be a few more cars to shoot at the charity event Tsuchida-san himself organized.


When I’d arrived at the event the Lotus was still sitting on the back of a flat bed, and that was at 10:00am. As I walked around, looking for Tsuchida-san and snapping photos of the eclectic cars on show, I began to worry that the Lotus wasn’t going any further. It sat so low to the ground, I wondered whether they perhaps had trouble unloading it off the flatbed. There’s a reason the car is nicknamed Lowtus.

Realizing that the event didn’t actually start until 11:00am, I went and grabbed a coffee. On my return I was happy to see the Lotus had been rolled into a prime position in the center of the show.


The first thing that hits you is just how low this car sits. This is all thanks to some clever sourcing of parts including 9-inch air bags, genuine front shocks from Lotus, rear shocks from a Eunos Roadster, all of which are controlled by a Tanabe Air Cobra system.

I think the iconic Giorgetto Giugiaro wedge design is complemented nicely with some mixed-and-matched SSR mesh wheels that Tsuchida-san has pieced together from various Yahoo! Auction buys. They look huge but it’s really an optical illusion. They only measure 16×7.5-inch up front and 17×9.5-inch, but when the already low-slung Esprit is almost sitting on the ground, the wheels look nearly as tall as the car. Fantastic stuff.


Oh, and before you accuse Tsuchida-san of being a pervert, those posters are of a famous pop singer from his youth – Seiko Matsuda – and he went to her concert as a teenager. There’s nothing weird about watching her videos on a retro portable National television. OK, perhaps it’s slightly eccentric, but that’s why I love it so much.


The Lotus is such an extension of Tsuchida-san and his vision for modeling cars of any size, that I can’t help but grin childishly and hope that it might be back on the road soon.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

Lotus related stories on Speedhunters



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I guess this article made me finally understand the "form over function" that prevails on so many projects.
In fact, in the past years I've been seeing cars only from the practical optic.
This has really sparked the light on me again, thanks!


We have achieved peak levels of rice.


Non running show cars have been a thing for a minute.


Im building my car to race. I am the show.

Kevin Reynolds

Amazing looking Lotus! It would be a shame not to get this car back running again and enjoy some long winding road somewhere but to each his own and if this is what he wants out of a build then that's good with me. Looking at the small engine shot it might mean a lot of work to get to that phase anyway. His choices of paint/graphics, wheels and "decorations" make a great visual and have been put together well – kudos!

Keith Peronilla

Never thought I'd see SSRs on an Esprit, but it looks awesome haha!


If those rear wheels are only 9.5 inches wide, what the hell is the offset?


9.5 isn't especially skinny is it? And under stock fenders, considering the stock wheels are only 8 (or 8.5 inches) I don't really think it took THAT much more offset:)


Standard rears are 8.5 on an Esprit and to be fair it looks like the early cars did have quite a dished rear wheel to begin with. These still look pretty crazy though.


Looked up some pictures (found the specs on a old forum) And boy they are THICC. Anyways yes those wheels are bucket spec. (nothing against them love them)


It honestly looks like something from the future like Akira


I will never understand why this level of stance is still a thing, especially with a car known for being good to drive (when it works). It just doesn't work on 99% of the applications.


I like functionality and generally don't see the need for things which offer no practical enhancement, and generally dislike overly stanced non-fuctional vehicles.

However, cars like this I believe need to be treated as 'art'. The owner hasn't just thrown a bunch of trash into the car, they are hand picked statement items about their personality, nostaligic things that they have chosen to portray a snapshot of their personality that they wish to demonstrate to others. I don't think the fact it doesnt even drive matters, i imagine most of the crazy stance cars are fairly awful to drive and don't do many miles so what's the difference in having it entirely not running and running but not really practical to drive when its ultimate purpose is to be looked at and enjoyed for the small, personal touches the creator has chosen.


I've have once seen an Esprit with my own eyes. I remembered the front hood and windscreen was really low and flat-ish. Simply one of the extreme wedge car.

I wonder how the Esprit driver managed to see outside.