Last summer – like most things that happen around here, through luck rather than judgement – Straight-Six and I took delivery of new cars within a week of each other. And they were near identical. We’d both chosen to buy used and, looking at the specs, it seems we’d bought essentially the same car. Both completed the dash to 60 mph in around 4 secs, both reached a top speed in the region of 150 mph and both cost us about £35,000. There were, however, a couple of very subtle differences between them.
Whereas my Audi RS6 was a jazzed up version of a production estate car and came complete with such indulgences as five seats, a radio with iPod dock, satellite navigation, air conditioning, power steering, a roof, a windscreen and, er, doors, Six’s choice – how can I put this? – didn’t.
Performance isn’t everything, is it?
You see, Six had opted for a Lotus 2-Eleven, a car that lacks not just a windscreen, doors and any mod cons whatsoever but, as far as I could see, any suspension too. It’s based on the Lotus Exige S and uses that car’s supercharged Toyota engine. And although it produces a paltry 252 bhp to my Audi’s awesome 572, omitting anything but the absolute bare essentials means it weighs just 670 kg. And that means the odd looking little 2-Eleven will get you to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Oh, and it can go round corners too which, to be candid, my Audi doesn’t really like doing very much.
But performance isn’t everything, is it? You see, while sacrificing some comforts – the RS6’s powered self-closing doors or keyless entry and ignition system for instance – in the interests of performance and a purer driving experience, I can get behind, the Lotus just goes way too far. In its quest for ever lower lap times, it sacrifices comfort, practically or indeed ‘liveability’ of any kind. This is a car Six would have to climb into every morning because it has no doors, to wear a helmet in because it has no roof.
Simply put, I thought Six was batshit crazy. And that’s without even raising the very thorny issue of this car’s looks. Come on, you’d feel like a man with a very small penis at the wheel of this thing, wouldn’t you?
So, a few weeks later, I happened to be in Brussels and decided to drop in on him and get him to take me out for a drive (in what he had since christened the ‘Hethel Hornet’) to confirm my criticism and prove – as if proof were needed – how very right I was.
“Take me for a quick drive ‘round town?” I asked.
“Sure.” Just the hint of smile on his face.
The hour I spent in the Lotus was pure unadulterated fun
I’ll leave you to watch the ensuing video embedded below but, as you do so, know that – even though I was just a passenger and even though I may occasionally appear to be crying like a baby in sheer terror – the subsequent hour or so I spent in the Lotus was pure adrenaline, pure unadulterated fun. I think the last time I was that excited to be in a vehicle was the first time I tried karting. And not because Six drives like a teenager but because this car really does get you closer to the thrill of driving than you can imagine – there’s just nothing between you and the road.
Emerging from the car, I was as giddy as a school boy. The truth though is that I looked more like a male rape victim: red-faced, sweaty, hunched over in pain from the incessant beating my arse and spine had taken, and utterly disoriented from the merciless wind noise, it’s a state I shall henceforth always refer to as ‘the Lotus position’. Nonetheless, as I hobbled away from the 2-Eleven, I reflected on how delighted I am that cars like this still exist. And – more importantly – that they still find a customer base in insane, uncompromising, purists like Six.
The Lotus position
The Fool goes for a ride in Six’s Lotus and emerges sweaty, hunched over in pain and utterly disoriented. But smiling.
All photos © Prodigal Communications Ltd.
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Our editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed "greatest wit, raconteur and bon vivant of our age", borders on delusional. Over the years, the fool has squandered more money on fast cars, Swiss watches and electronic gadgetry of all kinds than he – or Mrs Fool – cares to remember. Come nightfall, he can invariably be found stumbling out of Dukes mumbling “just one more Martini; I could have handled just one mmmmm… [thud!]”
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