Owning an S1 from New

Topics relating to the Lotus Exige S1 (series 1)
Richard Parham
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

Now.... I need a trailer, a quick call to Brian James and within a week I had picked up the new form of transport for the exige. I seem to remember my first track day was at Cadwell Park amazing circuit ideally suited for the exige. The VHPD was untterly intoxicating, I can remember holding the throttle at 7800 rpm then flooring it to 8100 rpm...pulling like a train. The handling was mind blowing with no understeer and very little oversteer...an idea balance. I managed to do several track days within the following few months, but the circuit that sticks in my mind was Goodwood. For some reason the exige simply excelled itself. High speed straights and corners, the rear wing pushing the rear of the car to the tarmac... fan bloody tastic. For those of you who are... or are not familiar with the infamous Nurburgring, this ring has to be one of the most intoxicating pieces of tarmac ever laid to Mother Earth. I have been travelling there for a few years prior to owning the exige with various cars. The long weekends were generally a jolly up with a load of mates, beers...bbqs...and very late nights. There was occasions when we had over 20 cars on the weekend. Back then there was no overspill car parks just the single car park with a tea room in the corner. I cannot remember the cost of a lap, but 8 euros springs to mind. The exige was the star of the show...and believe me...did it come to life at the ring. NOW...I am no racing driver but this little fibre glass machine was in its element on the green hell. I would generally do 10-12 laps over the weekend but in the exige by the Monday afternoon I had done 48 laps in 3 days. There was a chap called Benn Lovejoy...he was one of the first brits to come over to the ring and was very popular within the internet community. We managed to catch up in the car park, and he asked for a ride in the exige I promptly agreed and off we went with Ben waiving his yearly pass at the barrier. The lap flew by and before you knew it we were coming down the main straight towards the exit. Ben turned to me grinning from ear to ear...and said...can we do that again please, and off we went for a second lap. We returned to the car park and we exited from the car, Ben looking slightly light headed and smiling from ear to ear. Whilst camping I met a chap that worked at Lotus Engineering, he was there for some quick laps in his Westfield, he requested a lap in the exige and I duly obliged, and again, before I knew it we were coming down the main straight towards the exit,, he said to me, Richard... you need to come up to Hethel and drive some of our guys around in the exige... its amazing and you can certainly drive. I blushed and thanked him for his complement. Weekends came no better... or did they? NEXT more laps at the ring, and a drive with Chris Harris in the exige. TBC
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Rob999
Posts: 782
Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:50 pm
Location: Norfolk

Nice teaser 😉
#195
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thommo
Posts: 4953
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

Great article. Can’t wait for the next episode. So glad you have decided to fill us in after all these years!
Exige S1 No: 139
ade
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Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:40 am
Location: Essex

Awesome please keep them coming :)
Richard Parham
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

Now for some dates.. I think it was back in May 2002, when I was at the ring. The weekend was a bit special as there was a Lotus Motorsport Race on at the GP circuit. For those of you who don't know what these cars were, they were an Elise sport that looked like an Exige with steering wheel and seat centre position of the car... great race fantastic to see 30 Exiges flat out racing each other. Now as I have mentioned in previous paragraphs, I was banging in the laps at the ring more than ever... now generally being over taken by cars or bikes. One afternoon I looked in my mirror and saw a grey Exige inches from the rear of my car.
I duly moved over and within seconds it had gone into the distance... Wow he can drive I thought to myself. Now this happened 2-3 times over the up and coming days, and the driver and car never stopped in the car park as most of us did. Then.. on Monday afternoon I arrived for some more laps and the grey Exige was propped up on axle stands with several Lotus technicians working on it. As I walked over to the car I could see Chris Harris learning on the roof and looking into the distance. I had followed Chris from when he joined Autocar and loved his style of writing let alone his choice of company car which was an Evo 6.
Now I know he had an Exige as a long termer and then put 2 and 2 together and twigged that this was his company car. I walked over to him and introduced myself and my car. Ahhh... yes I have seen you out on the circuit going well, he duly said. We chatted for a while and I asked him if he wouldn't mind taking me out in my Exige while he waited for his car to be fixed... no problem he duly replied lets do it. I can remember like it was yesterday, he walked over to K8 LOT, over the door, removed the car mats, pulled the seat and himself to within inches of the steering wheel, and fired her up. With butterflies in my stomach I climbed in and off we went. The barrier opened and BANG ... the throttle was floored 8000 rpm in each gear. He said the engine felt strong, but the suspension needs sorting. The next few minutes flew by with over taking and under taking, but my remaining thoughts are how hard he worked the car. As we returned back to the car park I promptly thanked him and shook his hand. See you back out there and off he went back to his Exige, ready for more punishment. Great memories indeed.
tim_marra
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:56 pm
Location: Cumbria

Great story, thanks for sharing :thumbup:
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andybond
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I do like it when others give you feedback about your car, both positive and negative
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6970K
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Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:00 pm
Location: Cumbria

Fantastic story Richard :thumbup:
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thommo
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Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

Superb! What a story. Makes my Hethel outing with Martin Donnelly a bit tame as I told him to keep the revs down😳
Exige S1 No: 139
Richard Parham
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

A few upgrades were purchased from Bell and Covel, sport exhaust - aluminium window handles - gear change gate and a de cat pipe from PTP. On investigation the inner plastic wheel arches were badly damaged due to hard cornering from circuit work. The car was booked in to SGT's and the inner arches replaced.... that was about it for warranty work.... the dealer was very helpful and welcoming. In early 2003 I was driving the Exige on the M20 motorway not far from Brands Hatch. I was doing no more than 70 mph, when there was a change in the engine note and the oil light came on. I immediately turned the ignition off and coasted to the hard shoulder. I stepped out only to find my little orange racer was covered in oil from front to back. It was obvious something major had failed. The problem looked like it had come from the inside of the drivers wheel arch... not good. The RAC was called and the Exige was taken back to my house. I removed the wheel to find that it had rubbed its way through the inner plastic arch and nicked one of the oil lines running to the oil cooler. I was shocked to think that Lotus with all there engineering experience would simply attach the 2 oil lines to the inner arch.... which over time would ware away from the wheel, from under hard cornering. From that point on, I would look at other owners Exige's, and point out to them the on coming catastrophe ... that was so easily fixed with a cable tie simply moving the oil lines away from the arch.
The Exige was just over 2 years old so I did not go there with Lotus regarding the warranty. I repaired the oil line, topped up the oil and started the engine. A slight knocking noise from the engine did not sound good, so I immediately switched it off. I made a few phone calls regarding K series specialists and eventually had a conversation with QED, they were very helpful and put me onto a chap called Tom New, who was a race car engineer and a racer himself. I had a chat with Tom and we agreed a date to bring the Exige down. On arrival at Tom's workshop in Hampshire the Exige was fired up, and Tom promptly turned the engine straight off. Tom explained that it sounds like one of the main bearings has failed. Tom removed and rebuilt the engine and I added a few mods, including vernier pulleys, and Quaife ultra close helical 3rd, 4th, and 5th gears. The car was completed and I was very impressed with the professionalism and workmanship Tom had carried out. The car ran like new, and the ultra close gears were a revelation in keeping the refreshed K series at the top of its game. More track days and ring trips were booked and the Exige was still as strong and as fast as she had ever been.
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