UP CLOSE & PERSONAL W/ THE LOTUS ESPRIT

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

Earlier this month was the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS), a massive week-long exhibition that took place at the Putra World Trade Center.

Lotus Malaysia was exhibiting and I was invited there to get up close and personal with the Lotus Esprit concept car that was recently unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

I seriously couldn’t believe that this amazing car was going to be in Malaysia and I was super excited from the minute I found out.

And when I finally saw the car in the flesh, my jaw dropped and I stood staring at it for 5-minutes.

No matter how cool you think the new Lotus Esprit looks in photos, I can guarantee you that it looks 10x better in the flesh.

It is simply an amazing work of automotive art.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

It looks different from every angle, and just as beautiful. I still can’t believe someone designed such a beautiful car.

If this is the “new era” of Lotus then the future is going to be very, very bright indeed for the Hethel-based company.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

To me, the Lotus Esprit was the REAL star of the 2010 KLIMS, not that “Bumblebee” from Transformers or the bullshit “Batmobile” made from styrofoam that was plastered all over the ads for KLIMS.

Here was a bona-fide concept car that had wowed crowds in Paris and Los Angeles and was now mesmerizing crowds in Malaysia.

There were Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis at the show, but no one could touch Lotus.

You could see how transfixed the people were, just standing there and taking in every line of the car and only snapping out of it when another person was jostling for a better position to check out the car.

I don’t know how else to explain it, but you had to have been there to see people’s reactions to the Esprit.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

The powerplant hasn’t been finalized by Lotus yet, but I hope they build it themselves!

All we know now is that its going to be 618HP.

Woo hoo!

Ok … most of you have seen photos of the whole Esprit before, so now I’m going to show you some parts of the car that not a lot of people got to see – remember, I was at KLIMS to get up close and personal with the Esprit:

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

The interior is very sci-fi and futuristic. I was amazed at how simple but intricate everything in the cockpit was.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

Generous amounts of carbon fiber everywhere, always a good sign!

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

The door sills remind you of Lotus’ rich history in Formula 1.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

The panoramic roof is waaaaaaaaaaay sexy.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

The Esprit concept has wide-angle cameras for rear-view mirrors, and this images are projected onto the LCD dash-display. Tres, tres cool.

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

I seriously spent at least an hour looking at the car from every angle, and I couldn’t find a single thing I didn’t like about it.

Oh wait, I did – I don’t like that is only goes on sale in 2013. That’s too long – it needs to be on roads now!!!

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

Jackson (L) and Xian (R) came all the way from Perlis to check out KLIMS too!

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

We all loved the Esprit so much that we didn’t want to leave. We stayed so late that even the Lotus peeps left so we helped cover back the car. Hahaha

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

There were a lot of “models” at KLIMS, but if I was gonna take photos with any, I wanted to take it with the best. Thankfully Amber Chia was hanging around.

Hahaha

And when I said I got “up close and personal” with the Lotus Esprit, I wasn’t kidding:

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

And of the 310,000 people who visited the 2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show, I wonder how many got to take a photo like this:

2010 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show

Please don’t hate me.

:)

I’d like to thank Lotus Cars Malaysia for letting me get SO close to to my favorite car in the world.

LOTUS X BBB EXIGE S: SNAPPING NECKS & TURNING HEADS!

Lotus X BadBoyBen Custom Exige S

I’ve been driving the Exige for about a month now, and one thing I’ve found out about the car is that it is a real head-turner/neck-snapper.

No matter young or old, guy or girl, everyone stops and stares at the car.

And I mean EVERYONE.

I’ve already lost count of the number of times people have come up to me and asked if they could take a photo of the car – and I haven’t even thought about the people who didn’t even ask and started snapping away.

Yesterday I heard at least 5 kids exclaiming to their moms/dads that Lotuses were so pretty and they wanted on.

3 security guards asked me if they could take photos of the car when I made a pit stop at the bank.

A guy on his bike almost crashed because he stopped watching the road in front of him because he was too busy checking out my car.

I’m glad people are so appreciative of the car because the Exige really IS a beautiful vehicle and it’s rarer than a Ferrari or a Lamborghini on Malaysian roads.

People always freak out when they see my Exige – just like my good buddy Good Boy Jeff from MY FM:

Good Boy Jeff!

:)

MERRY CHRISTMAS, SUCKERS!

Coca Cola & Christmas

The common image of Christmas is not Jesus Christ (is is HIS birthday we are supposed to be celebrating) but Santa Claus. And where did this image of Santa Claus come from in the first place?

Here is some information from The Coca Cola Company:

Most people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like — jolly, with a red suit and a white beard. But he did not always look that way, and Coca-Cola® advertising actually helped shape this modern-day image of Santa.

2006 marked the 75th anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus. Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on our advertising.

Before the 1931 introduction of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall. Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.

Through the centuries, Santa Claus has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf. He has worn a bishop’s robe and a Norse huntsman’s animal skin. The modern-day Santa Claus is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries.

The Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red. Though some people believe the Coca-Cola Santa wears red because that is the Coke® color, the red suit comes from Nast’s interpretation of St. Nick.

Coca Cola & Christmas

The Coca-Cola Company began its Christmas advertising in the 1920s with shopping-related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. The first Santa ads used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.

At this time, many people thought of Coca-Cola as a drink only for warm weather. The Coca-Cola Company began a campaign to remind people that Coca-Cola was a great choice in any month. This began with the 1922 slogan “Thirst Knows No Season,” and continued with a campaign connecting a true icon of winter — Santa Claus — with the beverage.

In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world’s largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Mizen’s painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.

Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic. In 1931, The Coca-Cola Company commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa, as Mizen’s work had portrayed him.

For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa — an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.

Coca Cola & Christmas

From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering (and playing!) with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and even plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectibles.

The Coca-Cola Santa made its debut in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others. The instantly popular ad campaign appeared each season, reflecting the times. One ad even featured Santa in a rocket!

Sundblom continued to create new visions of Santa Claus through 1964. For decades after, Coca-Cola advertising has featured Santa’s image based on Sundblom’s original works.

There you go … the modern image of Santa Claus was created to help sell more Coke in winter.

Merry Christmas, suckers!

Ho ho ho

TIME TO ATTACK 2010 FINAL: RACE DAY!

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

12 December 2010 … the first time I was taking the Exige to the track … up to that point everything had happened so quickly that the magnitude of what was going on hadn’t really sunk in yet.

I took delivery of the car less than 2 weeks before the 12th and here I was prepped and ready to hit the track in Malaysia’s most prestigious time attack event – Zerotohundred’s Time To Attack.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

I think there was about RM50 million worth of cars at Sepang that day – and a good chunk of that was 20-odd R35 GTRS … someone remarked to me that they had never seen so many GTRs in one place at a time but I told them that GTRs were everywhere in Kuala Lumpur!

There was a “GTR Drag Battle” taking place after the main Time To Attack event but I assure you, it sounds a lot more exciting than it was.

20 automatic cars going down Sepang’s main straight in pairs – NOT a very breathtaking sight.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

Here we are at the driver’s briefing … Kah Beng on the left telling the Lotus posse how it’s all gonna go down.

Kah Beng really takes good care of the Lotus community at all trackday events and you should know that there is no other car club in Malaysia that is anywhere as cool as the Lotus Cars Club.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

This is Wingz, who takes awesome car photos.

He took some great shots of my Impreza at the last event so I was happy to meet him and get to thank him in person.

Wingz drives a Toyota Celica, which incidentally has the same 2ZZ-GE engine as my Exige

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

Here are George and Phil from Lotus UK. They were in town to make sure nothing happened to the new Lotus Esprit that was being displayed at the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show but I managed to convince them that hanging out with us at the track would be 100x more fun than babysitting a dummy car.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

It was great to finally get to drive the Exige in anger on the track and push it to its limits (or slightly over, as I did hehe)

The car was fantastic and I was super lucky that Kah Beng gave me some hands on instruction. I think everyone should bow down to him every time he walks past coz his car control is just awe inspiring.

I can’t stress enough how fortunate I am to have a great racer like Oh Kah Beng teaching me how to drive!

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

The car was good enough to clinch 3rd place in the Lotus Fast & Furious category, which was very encouraging since our car was running stock suspension and tyres.

1st place went to Aylezo’s Exige GT4 Cup Car (running on slicks) and 2nd place went to Dr. Bruce Lee (yes that is really his name) who was driving a well modified 111S Elise that was ALSO tuned by my buddy Dean.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

And here is the trophy in Kah Beng’s office.

I feel that this is where it belongs since he was the one who did all the work and pulled everyone together to get the car where it is. He always tries to shy away from taking any credit whatsoever but this time he can’t!

A lot of credit must also go to Tom, Angeline, Keshy and everyone at Zerotohundred.com for putting on another awesome time attack event. You guys have successfully made a lot of people take their track days a LOT more seriously (including yours truly) and I know that everyone is going to step up their game in 2011. I’m psyched and excited to what tricks people are gonna pull out of their bags next year, but the 2.19.785 set by Mohammed Farriz Fauzy is going to be pretty hard to beat!

There are some people I have to thank, because without them, none of this would have been possible:

Lotus Cars Malaysia
DC Shoes
Auto Racing Technik
Aylezo Motorsports
Motorsport Playground
Ceramico
Dean Ong
Remus Chang
Angeline Lee
Jackson Foo
Hen Xian

and Oh Kah Beng

Thank you all for your support!

TIME TO ATTACK 2010 FINAL: PREPARATION

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

I have been on a non-stop grind since the SYNC launch, and things don’t seem to be letting up at all.

There’s so much stuff happening at the moment (all of it is good) so I’m whizzing here and trying to keep my head on straight through all of this.

When I got the invitation to participate in the Time To Attack 2010 Final, the first thing that I did was to call Oh Kah Beng to see if we could get the Exige prepared in time. He made a few calls, I made a few calls and we were a go!

For starters, one area in which we wanted to develop the car was to add a piggy-back ECU and tune it to extract more power from the engine. Who else did I call but my good buddy Dean Ong from Auto Racing Technik to handle this!

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

Dean came all the way from Singapore specially to tune the Exige and here he is working with Hairul from Lotus Malaysia. It’s so nice to have factory support since any questions Dean had about the ECU’s wiring were quickly answered by Hairul, who really knows the Exige inside out!

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

Aylezo Motorsports very kindly let us use their workshop and all their equipment.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

But they were also busy preparing their entry into the Time To Attack final:

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

The Aylezo Motorsports Lotus Exige GT4 Cup Car.

My car is running the same aero kit as theirs (the only 2 cars in the world right now!) but they have Ohlins racing suspension and slick tyres.

Aylezo ended up taking first place in the Lotus Fast & Furious category at the Time To Attack final and they thoroughly deserved it.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

After Dean did all the wiring, we took the car to a dyno nearby so he could work his black magic.

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

In less than an hour, Dean had increased the 2ZZ-GE’s power to 278HP, up 33HP from the base reading of 244HP.

33HP just from a piggy-back ECU? Call Dean now! Hahaha

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

Super super thanks to Dean and Auto Racing Technik for coming all the way just to tune my car!

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

I’d also like to thank Zen Low and everyone at Aylezo Motorsports for all their help and support (and of course the AWESOME aero kit!)

Their workshop is definitely the coolest one in Malaysia (really – they are fully-air conditioned)

Lotus X BadBoyBen @ Zerotohundred.com's Time To Attack 2010 Final

And of course once again I need to thank Motorsport Playground for staying late for me on so many occasions and getting the look of the car just right. Pictured here are Simon and Nat – without them the car wouldn’t look so fucking awesome! Thanks guys!

Everyone put in a lot of work so I could go racing in such a brilliant car so I would like to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart – especially Oh Kah Beng because if it wasn’t for him, none of this would be possible.

Thank you all again!

LOTUS X BBB EXIGE @ ZEROTOHUNDRED.COM’S TIME TO ATTACK 2010 FINAL!

I’ve been pretty quiet this week, but that’s only because I’ve locked myself away to edit videos.

Here is the first one – a video I made of our recent outing to Zerotohundred.com’s Time To Attack 2010 Final!

I hope you like it.

:)