Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Lowtus – Dean Meeson’s 1981 Lotus Esprit S3

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


Thinking outside of the congested box that is today’s car scene is absolutely crucial when choosing a project car.. I mean, why would you want to imitate what everyone else is doing? Usually the more out-of-the-ordinary it is, the more remarkable the build will be (if it’s executed correctly that is). Today’s feature car is as extravagant as they come, a Lotus Esprit S3! This is an 80’s classic rarely seen on the road today, let alone one that has been slammed on air ride, but what a perfect combination it has turned out to be. Along with a set of gorgeous split rims, interior re-trim and an Alfa Romeo V6 engine swap to top things off, this car oozes nostalgia with a modern twist. It’s a car that will no doubt be admired by all sorts of automotive enthusiasts, plus thanks to being recognised as the ‘underwater car’ in the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, the average joe public. There’s something sensational about slamming a classic car, so simple yet so phenomenal.



Dean Meeson has spent the last eight years of his life building all sorts of cars, from lightly modifying his first ever purchase, a Peugeot 306, followed by a Ford Fiesta turbo, which led to a massive leap to his first major project – a mid-engined Yamaha R1 powered, paddleshift, 4.8 second Mini which took three years to build. After enjoying it for just a year, Dean sold the Mini for a big lifestyle change which saw him move to Sierra Leone to work as an engineer at an iron ore mine.



It wasn’t until 2012 that he made his return to the UK. Naturally, after being away from cars for so long, he knew he had to find something new to start tinkering with. “I wanted something preferably close to my age for a bit of nostalgia” he explains, “A wedge was a car of the 80’s and an obvious choice”. After a few months of searching for something wedge-shaped, two cars popped up that caught his eye, a TVR 350i and a Lotus Esprit. After being disappointed by the 350i due to the amount of chassis work it would’ve needed, he was left with the Esprit.



Dean took a trip to Telford and arrived at a dusty cement factory “with James Bond’s car hiding in the corner” he jokes. After one glance, and a bargain price to help sway him, he knew he had to buy the car even before test driving it. The Esprit required some attention mainly due to several small issues… a dash full of scotch locks and numerous oil leaks. But overall, the Lotus was in good shape, so Dean drove it home the same day after striking a deal. “The missus had no idea until I drove up the drive in a 80’s classic, genius.” he laughs.



It wasn’t long before Dean was measuring and searching for wheels, because as we all know, wheels can transform a car. After lots of searching, he came across a stunning set through the Wheel Whores forums, Compomotive CXN’s in 16×8 and 16×10, which were then powder-coated in gunmetal grey that compliments the car’s body colour.



The wheels have been spaced 25mm up front and 50mm at the rear with 195/40 and 225/40 tyres for the adequate fitment. The car was going to be low, so getting the fit right was crucial. “The plan was to have it hard-slammed, but I thought my driveway would never allow it to be quite as low as I wanted it” he explains. A bagged set up was on the horizon…



Unsurprisingly with a car of this age and rarity, ready-made air suspension is a thing of dreams. Dean had to custom build everything, starting with RideTech ShockWaves all round, which meant custom fabricated ‘V’ lower control arms were created to allow for the larger shocks. The top control arms were also switched out in favour of rosejointed items. After some measuring and clever thinking, everything came together. Dean opted for digital air management with AccuAir’s e-Level system which makes for a hassle-free experience.



With the all-important stance and fitment nailed, Dean turned his attention to the engine, which had been a little smokey ever since he picked up the car. He had an urge for Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) in addition to an alternative sound to the Lotus’ stock lump. He considered everything from an Audi 5-cylinder, a V8 or even a Rotary 20B, however as awesome as any of those would’ve been, Dean didn’t want to spend a huge amount of money or modify the chassis to get an engine to fit properly.



One important aspect that Dean had in the back of his mind throughout the build was that he wanted to be able to put the car back to standard at any point. With that, ultimately deciding the engine possibilities.. a V6 seemed a logical solution. Plenty of power, a suitable sound, and a tasty soundtrack, ideal.



Although Alfa Romeo are known to be unreliable, their V6 was “80’s looking but modern, and just looked right” Dean explains. A 3.0 24v from an Alfa Romeo 166 was sourced and rebuilt with the usual new parts ready for insertion. The main battle he had with the swap was with the sump, after two attempts Dean decided the best thing to do was to fabricate a steel one from scratch.



At the same time, Dean fabricated new engine mounts, a modified cooling system, and a custom adaptor plate to fit an original Citroen C35 transaxle which was used. The power steering was also deleted and he had to work out a new route for the ancillary belt. New inlet tubes were fabricated to allow for some gorgeous Triumph 955i throttle bodies and modified ITB fuel rails.



“I love seeing the downdraft trumpets in the rear view, it makes it all worth while” he smiles. And as if the throttle bodies weren’t enough, Dean enlisted the help of Immy at Torqueflow for a custom manifold back exhaust, which sounds mega. The engine is running off an Emerald ECU, with an additional swirl pot, high pressure pump and AN-8 fuel lines.



The interior of the Esprit had seen better days, in fact it was completely shot according to Dean. “I spent time over the winter having a go at retrimming everything myself. It’s a great place to be, but I’ll probably do it again as it was a first ever attempt” he explains. That said, he has done a stunning job, with the grey suede and leather combo working great with the 80’s feel. You’ll also notice a beautiful wooden Nardi steering wheel in there to finish it off.



On something of this age, paintwork is something that will make or break the car.. Dean’s Esprit was originally red in colour. A previous owner resprayed it over ten years ago in something very close to Glacier blue – Dean says it’s been a difficult colour to replicate as he’s unsure of the exact paint code. At that time, the side body trim was also deleted and smoothed which modernises the car nicely. The respray appears to have been done to a high standard as the bodywork looks very good indeed.



Dean’s latest upgrades to the car include uprated 280mm Wilwood brakes along with braided lines, which massively improve the outdated standard Lotus items. Other than that, the car has actually been around for quite a while now, and Dean is thinking about changing up the look slightly, possibly adding a rear window louvre… “for cooling and because they just look so cool” he explains. He’s also working on producing a custom set of Lotus Speedline wheels which will be turned into splits, which sound awesome!




Dean has absolutely smashed this build.. period correct but with modern suspension enabling him to slam it on the floor, which is extraordinary seeing as the Esprit is such a short car anyway. “Owning this car since 2012 has had its ups and downs, but I’m glad it’s out there rather than being another locked away classic” Dean tells me, which is very true. I can imagine that any other Esprit’s in the country are garaged and barely driven – Dean’s is quite the opposite, which is why I love it. It’s no surprise that the car is praised wherever he takes it. I can’t wait to see the changes that are coming in the near future, be sure to keep your eyes out for the lowtus.

Players 9.0

Date: 20 September 2015

Location: North Weald Airfield, Essex


Words & Photos by Henry Phull


What do I love about Players? Well, most importantly, everyone and everything is accepted. This isn’t just your typical show that is significantly biased over one or two marques of car. At Players, you’ll see everything from oval Beetles, lowriders, American muscle cars and hot rods all the way to race and drift cars. Plus, everything in between of course. Although it is often recognised as a ‘scene’ car show, if you look around, it really isn’t. Naturally all our favourites are there, but always alongside a healthy mix of the complete opposite. Every year, hundreds of these show and project cars gather at North Weald Airfield in Essex for what is one of the most exciting shows of the season, now in its ninth year. Even with an exclusive hangar with pre-registered show cars, ample hard standing surroundings in addition to a huge grass area, the show just keeps getting busier and busier. At times, you could say that cars have had to be squeezed in – that’s pretty incredible! It’s a show you certainly won’t get bored at, as it took me the whole day to get around and shoot, and I probably still missed plenty of cars…



Car Audio & Security’s Porsche 964 on Rotiform FUC’s with Recaro A8 seat upgrade



Car Audio & Security’s Dodge Challenger SRT8 on Air Lift suspension



Steve Fraser’s Audi S3 saloon on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform CBU’s


James Manner’s Audi B5 RS4 Avant on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform LVS’s


Jamie McToldridge’s static G60-powered Volkswagen Mk1 Golf


Aaron Capasso’s 1961 Volkswagen Beetle on Air Lift suspension



Gary Morgan’s Mk1 Ford Escort


James Brown’s bagged Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on Rotiform 2pc MBZ’s


Georgie Marlow’s Volkswagen Mk1 Golf on Air Lift suspension & ceramic polished BBS RM’s


James Aveil’s bagged Mercedes-Benz W114 on SSR Visconti’s


Josh Stokes’ Nissan 350z on Air Lift suspension & SSR Vienna wheels


Max Fleckney’s KP Toyota Starlet on Advan A3A wheels


Dave Mcdiarmid’s bagged BMW E46 coupe on stepped-up BBS RF’s



HTS Motorsport’s BMW E30 Touring on Air Lift suspension & Schmidt TH-Line’s


Tom Lilico’s bagged BMW Z3 on face-mounted Lamborghini Diablo splits



Bekir Iskender’s BMW E39 540i on Air Lift suspension & custom Alpina Softline’s rebuilt into 19″ 3pc



Steven Doe’s BMW E21 316 on Air Lift suspension & CCW D110′s

(Click here to check out our feature on Steven’s E21)


Nick Sahota’s Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth



Becky Evans’ BMW E21 on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform BM1′s


Audi S5 Sportback on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform IND-T’s





Josh Mussell’s (LikeHell Design) static 350z on WORK Meister S1’s


Charlie Sixbe’s bagged Volkswagen Mk5 Golf 18″ Rotiform VCE’s


Billy Hilton’s Audi A6 Allroad on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform IND’s


Simon Weitz’s Volkswagen K70


Lee Curtis’ stripped Volvo 240 on banded steels


Adam Rickards’ Volkswagen Mk7 Golf R on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform CCV’s



James Brown’s bagged Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on Rotiform 2pc MBZ’s


Kiran Mistry’s Mk1 Golf on Air Lift suspension & BBS E50′s


Jon Naish’s Nissan President on hydraulics


Leigh Cornish’s Honda Del Sol on hydraulics & CCW wheels


Corbyn Dickason’s Volkswagen Mk1 Golf on BBS E75’s


Rick Arris’ Volkswagen Mk5 Golf Edition30 on Air Lift suspension & OZ Superleggera’s




Indy’s bagged Mercedes-Benz W210


Jordan O’Sullivan’s Mini Cooper S on Carline CM6’s


Chevy V8-powered BMW E21


Alex Wright’s static BMW E36 328i Sport

(Click here to check out our feature on Alex’s E36)


Lea Aucott’s static BMW E36 Touring on BBS RF’s


Volkswagen Type 3 Notchback



Mark Ikeda’s Audi TT on H&R suspension & BBS GT’s


Will Drayson’s BMW E92 on Air Lift 3H suspension & 19″ Rotiform BLQ’s



Dan Grimstead’s BMW E30 on Air Lift suspension


Bagged Renault Megane CC on Jaguar wheels



Monster Energy / Ken Block’s Gymkhana 7 Ford Mustang



Matt Carter’s bagged Audi A5 on stepped-up OZ Futura’s



Wolfgang Meier’s bagged Audi TT on Eta Beta’s



Matt Rudd’s ’63 Volkswagen Beetle



Liam Elmore’s Audi TT on Air Lift suspension & Rotiform OZT’s



Ricky Sadasivan’s static BMW E36 cab on Gotti’s


Jason Debono’s Mercedes C63 W205 on Gepfeffert / KW V3 suspension


Volkswagen Mk6 Golf on BBS E88’s


Paul William’s Volkswagen G60 Rallye on Schmidt TH-Line’s





Xenonz UK’s widebody kitted Audi RS7 on 21″ Damnraw Honeycombed concave directional wheels



Greg Fulford’s Volvo 240 GL


Gordon Milne’s Volkswagen Mk4 Golf R32 on BBS GT’s


Nicholas Pritchard’s Ford RS500 Cosworth


Carl Levy’s Volkswagen Mk1 Caddy on BBS RM’s


Prakash Thanky’s BMW E21


Paul Harding’s ’84 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera



Ryan Perkins’ 1972 Volkswagen Beetle on Air Lift suspension



Randell Mario Forte’s VW Golf Cabriolet on hydraulics & Cromodora CW10′s



Jay Kalsi’s Mtech1 E30 convertible on OZ Futura’s


RIIVA Design’s Audi A6 C7 on Air Lift suspension & 21″ Rotiform CCV’s


Ryan Powell’s bagged Volkswagen Mk3 Golf VR6 on BBS LM’s

(Click here to check out our feature on Ryan’s Mk3)


Chris Phillips’ static Lexus IS200 on BBS RS

(Click here to check out our feature on Chris’ Lexus IS)


Players co-founder Jamie ‘Jaymac’ McToldridge announcing the Show & Shine winners




Phew! Thanks for sticking it to the end, as you can see the turnout of cars was simply vast, and that’s only a small portion of what was actually on display. In addition to the show cars, to keep everyone on their feet throughout the day and not limiting it as a static event, there was plenty of action going on thanks to Monster Energy & Fueltopia’s Barrel Sprint taking place throughout. It’s always nice to have a little bit of motorsport going on at a car show, right? With such a high calibre of cars, a chilled vibe, good music and quality traders, Players remains one of our top events of the season and should not be missed, irrespective of what sort of cars you’re interested in – you’ll find something you’ll love here.



More info on Players:

Players website

Players on Facebook

Players on Instagram


Seen you car above? If we haven’t named you, drop us message a through our Facebook page or email and let us know if you’d like your name added to the article! Also be sure to let us know if we made any errors regarding your car’s modifications. Sometimes we make mistakes, albeit rarely, but we like to make things right!