"I was already modifying it on the way home from the showroom," says Frank Profera of his 2005 Lotus Elise. "I can never understand people who buy cars and then want to keep them stock. In that case, why not just lease?" Why not, indeed. This car is a perfect example of one man's automotive obsession. It's not unreasonable to call someone who installs two types of forced induction into that tiny engine bay obsessive, is it? That's right, a turbo and a supercharger. In a car that weighs not much more than a pizza.
The supercharger went in first-a VF Engineering MP62. But when Profera got used to the 300 or so horsepower that gave, it was supplemented with a Precision 6262 ball bearing turbo. These days, that turbo is accompanied by a custom-made air intake, manifold, headers and a four-inch tailpipe from Stafford Fabrication. Based in Lancaster, CA, Mike Stafford is a good friend of Profera's and a whiz with a welder. There's also a Burns muffler in there somewhere. Enhanced exhalation is aided by a Tial 44 waste gate and a Turbonetics Raptor blow-off valve.
Feeding the beast's greater appetite is an in-tank Walbro 255-lph pump, a Stafford full return fuel rail with an Aeromotive regulator, a Stafford fuel swirl pot with its own Walbro pump (to prevent any fuel starvation when cornering hard and fast, of which this car is eminently capable), and Siemens 750cc/min injectors. If there are going to be bigger explosions, the Toyota 2ZZ-GE should be able to withstand them, so Brian Crower connecting rods topped with Wiseco pistons now move through Darton cast iron cylinder sleeves, while a set of Monkey Wrench Racing (MWR) valve springs with titanium retainers ping away above them. Compression now stands at 9:1, as opposed to the standard figure of 11.5:1. Stafford also came up with beefier engine mounts.
Naturally, the suspension had to go to another level. Profera collaborated with Chris Randall of Hofmanns Racing and together they worked with Nitron-from dear olde England, keeping the limey/Lotus connection-to get them valved just right. These are supported by Eibach springs: 550 pounds in the front, 800 pounds in the rear. Yet the car rides almost as comfortably as stock. "It's all in the valving," says Profera. A Lotus Sport antiroll bar joins Stafford-built lower A-arms, toe-links, and bushings.
There was no point in stopping there. Hence an upgrade to Lotus Sport AP brakes, using Pagid R14 pads and Aeroquip stainless steel braided lines. In front of the stoppers are the rollers: Kodiak FX wheels, sized 7.5x16 up front and 10.5x18 at the rear, wearing 205/40 and 285/30 Hoosier R6 super-sticky competition tires.
With all the above fitted and functioning, it was time to go for a an exhilarating drive. Just one small hitch: All that muscle ended up turning two stock gearboxes into scrap metal. Obviously a more serious transmission was needed. As it happens, the E153 gearbox found in the Toyota MR2 Turbo can take 500 hp. Stafford got on the case re-working the bell housing, as well as putting together a gear oil cooler and installing Moser axles. With the trans still in pieces, it was a good time to fit a Clutchmasters twin-disc clutch and pressure plate, plus a Fidanza single mass flywheel.
The thing is, the E153 'box is a five-speeder with quite tall gearing, which wasn't chiming well with the turbo. To keep from dropping too far out of the powerband, Profera went for over-the-top. He decided to throw in a supercharger, which meant buying the same model as before. "That's called R&D," he says.