In his wildest dreams, Colin Chapman would not have believed his lightweight sportscar ethos of 'adding lightness' would still be so important to specialist manufacturers half a century after it defined his Lotus 7.
The 7 is still manufactured in essence by several manufacturers, proving the worthyness of his now anachronistic design, however, where performance and purity of handling truly mattered, Formula One motorsport, it soon became evident that the only place for the engine was behind the drivers head and in front of the rear wheels.
That said, it was one of Colin's front engined masterpieces, the baby Elan that first inspired Exo director, Liam Wilkinson to create and manufacture his first kit car, the Gemini Sprint Elysee.
Liam's earliest memory is of being stood in a paraffin bath as a young child by his father after he had managed to get himself covered in grease at the family run garage. After leaning to drive as a pre-teen and spending all of his formative years stripping down and rebuilding anything with an engine, Liam quite naturally embarked on a career in the motor trade. He cut his teeth with his brother, assembling Jaguar C-type and D-type replicas before teaming up with design genius and lamination expert Pete Farries who designed the original Whomobile for the then Dr Who, Jon Pertwee. Having acquired the pre-requisite skills from Farries, Liam started the Elysee project in 1986 and a then young Ian Stent tested it for magazine publication to critical acclaim.
It sold well for a number of years, but the introduction of the original SVA test saw a dip in sales and Liam sold the manufacturung rights onwards. He then applied his considerable skills to specialist paintwork, producing a number of show winning vehicles, both classic and modern.
The introduction of Smart Car in 1998 sparked the interest of motoring enthusiasts the world over and it was only a matter of time before Liam teamed up with rock star, petrolhead and long time buddy Paul Holmes to create Smarts-R-us, the UK's first and at one time largest Smart Car tuning and styling centre. Although a successful musician, Holmes had grown up with both maternal and paternal grandfathers being automotive engineers and his own father, a veteran of numerous classic car rebuilds and restorations. Thus, like Liam, petrol truly ran through his veins.
The tiny Smart 3 cylinder engine was simply begging for kit car usage and following a meeting with German car designer, Bernd Michalak, the Michalak C7 kit car was born and mid engined, kit car heaven came a step closer. Naturally, Paul and Liam built and sold these kits in the UK and displayed them not only at every major motoring event in the UK, but also at the then numerous kit car shows.
In 2006, Stuart Mills designed the car that became known as the MEV Rocket and having seen an early prototype, in 2007 we purchased a chassis and installed a 700cc Smart Car engine into it which suited the lightweight chassis very well launching it in 2008 as the Zonta..
Thus our long association with the Rocket kit car started and such is its history and development, we have dedicated a page solely to this model here
Since 2009, the team have produced a range of largely exoskeletal vehicles and following a restructuring early in 2015, Exo Sports Cars was christened, the company's name now describing the products and services that it is dedicated to. At this juncture the SVE brand was born, Scuderia Veicolo Exoskeletal translating to 'the stable of exoskeletal vehicles.
Further to our continued passion for development and evolution, Exo have introduced no fewer than three new models on to the market in the last 12 months, the latest of which, the SVE Rocket II which has been designed using a 3D modelling package. This technology is used in motorsports industries such as F1 and WEC. We have used this to design the chassis and the kinematic package to optimise the front suspension. In turn, the surfacing package has allowed us to match the bonnet to the chassis with stunning results. Our American distributor is currently furthering its development by installing a 300bhp Ford Ecoboost engine into a chassis in Texas.
Thus we move forwards with our eyes clearly looking forward and the following products and services:
- Automotive – SVE Sports Cars sold in both turnkey and component form
- Motorsport – Race cars built to order or supplied in component form
- Specialist Bodywork – State of the art paintwork, laminate fabrication and repairs
Any specialist manufacturer will tell you that success is a function of a team's dynamic and cohesion - and Exo Sports Cars is no different. Here at Exo we're extremely proud of our position as custodians of the world's largest range of Exoskeletal kit cars, and with it the unique Britishness of encouraging a customer to build their own sports car. But ultimately our objective is quite straightforward. There really is no better satisfaction than seeing the face of someone stepping out of an SVE car having driven it for the first time. The picture is unequalled anywhere and in anything else.
Our mission statement "It's all about performance" truly endorsed?