Lotus Elan

A "Supercar" experience.

PostPost by: jimj » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:11 pm

For my, significant, birthday, our son treated me to a Supercar Experience. Several laps driving 4 different “supercars” at Oulton Park. I went yesterday, the 4 cars were in order of driving; Aston Vantage, Audi R8, Ferrari California, and a Lamborghini Flasherado (or something). It was in look-at-me metallic yellow, not my sort of thing but the BMW i8 which I thought would be interesting was broken. It was the right order of driving, it turned out.

Driving as fast as you dare, on a circuit you can barely remember, is not really a fair way of judging a car`s merit but judge I did:

The Aston, on paper, is marginally slower than our Golf R but felt not just slower but out of its depth, heavy and unwieldly and not really suitable, but was ideal for reminding myself which way was which. The instructor was good pushing me harder than I expected. The gearboxes were all paddle operated and clutchless and this one was clunky up and down. Jerking down a gear, braking hard, was unsettling for me and the car. I was unimpressed.

Second was the Audi and much nicer, lighter, quicker and all round better. This instructor seemed less enthused but competent enough and the car just felt more “me” which I think is a good measure. The gearchange, again, was a bit abrupt, not a patch on, and different from, Vw`s DSG `box. I`d still rather have the Golf.

The Ferrari surprised me, it felt smoother and racey, which I didn`t expect, and was much better, really nice, really, really nice. Much smoother yet just as quick if not quicker still. It`s all a bit marginal at the top end of performance. The instructor, an older bloke, was really strict. A metre to the right of the turn in point on a right hander was a metre too many. He was great, as was the car. The comparisons were just fascinating. The Ferrari was streets ahead and it`s the entry level Ferrari don`t forget, and more of a GT than a track car.

The Lamborghini brand is not something I would ever aspire to, just look at the ostentatious colour schemes that sort of person chooses. I couldn`t imagine a proper bloke (someone like me, natch) choosing one. We even chose to have our Sprint in monotone, not the gaudy two-tone. Well… let me tell you… it was fantastic. A revelation. To drive it just seemed so natural, smooth, composed, and really, appreciably, faster. The instructor, female as it happened, was absolutely on it 100%. She was just determined that I`d wring out the best lap I could and maybe I did. I just loved it. If I could afford one I`d have one but I`d only drive it in the dark, obviously. I wouldn`t want to be seen in one, yet that seems to be their USP.

A great day I`d recommend highly, and in some ways more fascinating retrospectly.
Jim
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:38 pm

Congratulations on your birthday and thanks for another really interesting read.
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PostPost by: JimE » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:37 pm

Gaudy two tone! Lotus didn't seem to think so and this was borne out by the number of mono Sprints that left the factory. Jim
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:49 pm

I did a Supercar experience many years ago at Snetterton. The cars were Dodge Viper V10, Ferrari 355, Porsche something or whatever 911 shape thing and a Lotus Esprit V8 twin turbo GT. All of them were current cars, so that tells you how long ago.

The Ferrari was the best, a real nice car to drive and it sounded great, the Dodge was amazing in that it had so much torque, the Porsche was boring and less fun than the car I drove there ( Honda Civic Vti) the Esprit was a scary monster that almost bit my bum off, probably the fastest car there but the turbos made the car sound plain ordinary and spoiled the experience, but strangely the car I remember the most is the Esprit.
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:58 pm

JimE, love the name, yes 2 tone Sprints were more popular, and cheaper, bloomin` cheapskates. I realise that not everyone appreciates good taste, or irony.

I forgot to mention that at the end of the day I had a passenger ride hot lap in a BMW Mmm. I wouldn`t want 2 laps, it was brutal. It was fast but I`m not sure really stamping on the brake and accelerator and chucking the car into corners gives the quickest laptime. It was dramatic though but horribly unpleasant.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:18 pm

jimj wrote:
I forgot to mention that at the end of the day I had a passenger ride hot lap in a BMW Mmm. I wouldn`t want 2 laps, it was brutal. It was fast but I`m not sure really stamping on the brake and accelerator and chucking the car into corners gives the quickest laptime. It was dramatic though but horribly unpleasant.
Jim


When I used to work at Silverstone (many years ago) one of the cars they used for white knuckle passenger laps was an Escort Cosworth (told you it was a while back!). I remember it being brought round from the workshop one day with with four brand new tyres and going back with them all down to the canvas ..... 88 miles later. Given the cost of the tyres and how much they charged for the experience that was a white knuckle loss leader for the accountants. The instructor was moved to ‘less demanding duties’.
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PostPost by: JimE » Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:28 pm

jimj wrote:JimE, love the name, yes 2 tone Sprints were more popular, and cheaper, bloomin` cheapskates. I realise that not everyone appreciates good taste, or irony.

I forgot to mention that at the end of the day I had a passenger ride hot lap in a BMW Mmm. I wouldn`t want 2 laps, it was brutal. It was fast but I`m not sure really stamping on the brake and accelerator and chucking the car into corners gives the quickest laptime. It was dramatic though but horribly unpleasant.
Jim

Just to add a montone Lagoon Blue Sprint is my favourite finish.

I experienced similar at Hethel when the instructor gave me a demonstration at the end of the day. I just prefer to drive in a smoother fashion.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:36 am

Thanks Jim, interesting.

If you follow Harry Metcalfe’s Harry’s Garage videos he has a good car collection including Ferrari’s and Lamborghinis. My impression, and it’s nothing more than that, is he likes the Lambos more.

I’ve never driven either; it would be nice to do so. I’ve driven a 911, which left me unimpressed and I was driven around the MIRA handling circuit by none other than Roger Clarke in the first iteration of the Audi S4 estate, which was an experience and a half!

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PostPost by: JonB » Thu Jul 25, 2019 7:31 am

I did a supercar experience on the Top Gear test track, run by Everyman Racing. I chose the DB9, Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 360 and the joker of the pack, a BMW i8. I thought the DB9 was too sluggish and heavy, the Lambo had a slow paddle shift gearbox, the 360 looked like new outside but the interior was worn out but it had the best gearbox and was really fast. Funny thing was the i8 which turned out to be my favourite car of the day. Maybe because it was new and futuristic, but it had a good turn of speed and made impressive bassy "whoomp" noises when you caned it (I later found out that rather than it being the sound of some huge capacitor discharging itself to give you extra oomph, the sound is generated by the stereo for effect, as is the engine sound).

The only thing about the day that irritated me was the relentless upselling that Everyman were doing. You can't blame them but you do feel a captive audience. Apart from that, all great fun but the laps were over way too soon.
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PostPost by: jimj » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:29 am

Yes, upselling was the order of the day, my gift had already cost me an extra £35 to do Oulton Park plus £30 insurance excess waiver. Extra this, extra that, no thanks. You were loaned an SD card, plugged into a 360 degree internal camera in each car plus they took numerous stills from outside of the car. To have the SD card downloaded to your phone was £45, no thanks.

Incidentally, and not wishing to (further) garnish my reputation for good taste, about 3 years ago a pal gave me a drive in his brand new Cayman. But for the unacceptably, in my view, hard ride, I thought it was the best car I`d ever driven. A week later a neighbour, knowing we had an R32 at the time brought round a Golf R he had on loan. A quick test drive and I was smitten, this was the best car ever, ever. It just is.

We`ve had ours for 2 years now and just think there can`t be a better all round, comfortable, practical, car. It`s a bit quick too. On 2 separate occasions my wife has been filling with petrol and had blokes asking her opinion of the car. Each time she answered that if she won the lottery there isn`t another car that she`d prefer. Oh, incidentally JimE, it`s Lapiz blue.
Jim
P.S. A very comfortably off pal brought round his 720S last year, took me out for a blast then Carole. She said, not in his hearing, well it`s very nice but not that much better than the Golf. She`s right. Our 4 year old granddaughter said, in his hearing, "it looks just like a Lotus". She`s almost right.
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:21 am

jimj wrote:The Ferrari surprised me, it felt smoother and racey, which I didn`t expect, and was much better, really nice, really, really nice. Much smoother yet just as quick if not quicker still. It`s all a bit marginal at the top end of performance. The instructor, an older bloke, was really strict. A metre to the right of the turn in point on a right hander was a metre too many. He was great, as was the car.


Agreed about the Ferrari. I had an opportunity to drive a 360 manual a while back. Beautiful musical engine that's just so responsive. Love the open gate shifter. You have to be a bit forceful with the gearstick though. It's certainly not a light one finger shifter like the Ford 2000E. I deliberately chose it because it was the only one of the supercars available that didn't have a paddle shift. Cant stand those. If you want a paddle shift buy a PlayStation or Xbox. Manual shift supercars have much higher resale than the paddle shift versions too which says something. It's not just about quick it's about feel too. Surprisingly it was very easy to drive around town and in the traffic too. Sounds like a racer even just tootling around - pleasantly though and not excessively loud.

The Ferrari was definitely an excellent blend of both art and engineering. Something which in my opinion at least a lot of German cars miss the mark on no matter what the numbers say.
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PostPost by: 661 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:14 am

Belated happy B'd, Jim, from another Lapiz 'R' owner (Estate mind you)
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:29 pm

2cams70 wrote:
jimj wrote:
The Ferrari was definitely an excellent blend of both art and engineering. Something which in my opinion at least a lot of German cars miss the mark on no matter what the numbers say.


It must be the old joke about being able to take the designer out of Germany but not being able to take Germany out of the designer. There's probably an automotive version somewhere of the 'faxlore' thing about Euro heaven and hell that was doing tthe rounds about 20 yrs ago -

Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it's all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it's all organized by the Italians.

In our case it would be something like - heaven is where the factory is German, the engine is Italian, the suspension British, the interior French, the accountants Swiss etc. Hell is, well, let's hear some suggestions ... :lol:
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PostPost by: Davidb » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:20 pm

My only experience of "Supercars" on a race track was in a Porsche Carrera GT-the one with the V10 engine in the middle--they are probably still cleaning the impression of my face off the side window...

I think that the reason for the feeling the Porsche 911s were underwhelming is because they are just so competent! Here is an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1Lrlqz3z_0&t=250s

Skip straight to 1:30 to start would be my suggestion.
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PostPost by: rcfurse » Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:02 pm

I saw a fair amount of a Carerra GT at Spa. I was there in company with a couple of other 340R's. The Carerra disappeared on any straight bits but you could see him getting pissed off when we are all over him in the wriggly bits. He had a major tank slapper when he pushed too hard and you knew he was thinking "I paid $300,000 for this and those little go karts are eating my lunch".

The Elans have the same effect on modern cars. "How can that old car walk all over me?"
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