After years of modeling and building scale cars – sometimes even building unique replica cars for other owners, I’m finally taking the chance to do a replica of a car I actually own. It’s not JDM, and the base model isn’t even a traditional plastic model from Tamiya or Aoshima.
At the time of this writing I’ve only owned my Series 1 Lotus Evora for less than a year – I bought it used with around 16k miles in early 2021. There hasn’t been much done to it yet – it’s lowered on cups, has a wing from a later model Evora, some blacked out bits, and Advan GT wheels.
As an early model my particular car isn’t the fancy expensive supercharged variant that came later – it’s powered by the tried and true naturally aspirated 2GR-FE motor used in everything from Toyota’s Camrys to RAV-4’s.
The base model I’m starting the build off with is actually a diecast – at least it’s in an accurate 1/24 scale. The company that makes it is Bburago – I’ve never had any experience with their products but I know the brand from generally selling cheap off-the-shelf diecast models you’d see at Wal-Mart or Target.
The model itself was less than $20, snagged off eBay. It does truly feel like a cheap mass-produced diecast toy, but that’s fine. It serves as an acceptable base to build my replica off of.
This specific model is actually of an Evora S IPS – which means it’s the early model supercharged version of my car (what the “S” denotes). The IPS means it’s automatic (Lotus called the auto trans “Intelligent Precision Shift”) – the designation is there to make sure everyone knows and is able to shame you for buying an automatic Lotus 🙂
Wheels just pop off. No brakes!
Chassis separates from the body with two phillips head screws. One of them is under the chrome plastic center exit exhaust tip, so that’ll have to be popped out first.
Interior is all boring black flat plastic.
At least we got stickers for the gauge cluster and infotainment screen!
Front grille opening was just a piece of textured plastic. Will be discarding that entirely in favor of actual mesh later.
Door cards are of course all black, pop right off the diecast doors.
Chrome stickers for the side view mirrors. We’ll be saving those.
Bburago’s paint is very globby thick. There’s no detail where the vents around the rear of the car should be – the rear sail panel (the flat black piece between the rear window and the roof) should have four vents in it, but there are barely any indents!
Almost all the windows are riveted in to the diecast body, so those are drilled out and removed.
Headlight assembly comes between the clear lenses and black housings. Not a lot of detail in the actual headlights themselves, but at least they painted the black outline on the lenses for you.
Everything plastic has been taken out – we’re down to just the diecast main body now.
The nice thing about diecast bodies is that they’re very easy to strip – a dunk in a tub of lacquer thinner will take all this thick globbly paint from Bburago right off. Before that, I went in and scribed some of the panel lines in a bit deeper to get more definition between the body panels.
Stripped and sanded.
I was genuinely surprised to find a lot of details from the metal body re-emerge after the paint was stripped – look! There are vents! I’m actually impressed Bburago went through the effort to include the mesh pattern in the casting. What a waste that it goes to total waste under the paint.
Body hit with the first coat of Tamiya Bright Red.
Painting a model with opening doors and hatches is a new experience. One pass has the doors open to get the sills, the next goes with them closed so we don’t miss any exterior areas by the front fenders.
The interior never had any pedals to begin with, but the center console is unmistakably not manual transmission. Lotus’s IPS interface was just a bunch of buttons to go between Park, Reverse, and Drive, instead of having any sort of gear lever for the automatic.
Stole a shifter from my spare parts bin, pretty sure this is from an FRZ86.
Trimmed the boot a bit and smashed it into the center console. It is now elite!
My car’s interior is what Lotus calls Oyster – not quite tan, but not quite white. It’s a very light creamy beige.
Tamiya’s TS-7 Racing White turned out to be the perfect color to recreate the light beige.
Interior tub masked to paint the center console beige.
The engine compartment is bleak and undetailed, but in fairness to Bburago there’s not much to see back there with the giant engine cover in place anyway. How convenient that the center part of the engine cover is detachable, making for easy painting.
I forgot to mention my car is actually the 2+0, meaning I don’t have rear seats (it’s just a parcel shelf with a cargo net), but most Evoras came equipped as 2+2’s, so there were actually rear seats in a Lotus! Granted, they’re absolutely not suitable in the real world for anyone aged older than like 8, but hey on paper it’s a four-seater!
Bburago’s model is a 2+2, so there are rear seats molded in, but since they’re flat black anyway I wasn’t even going to bother with attempting to “delete” them by covering them up and converting it to a parcel shelf like my car – I just left them as they were.
I’m actually impressed with the detail and accuracy on the Recaro Sportsters included in the model.
Details added in with some silver and flat black paint.
I found the original infotainment sticker kind of lame, so I went and recycled one from an Aoshima Subaru model that I had extra screen decals from.
Body masked to paint the Black Pack – a factory option from Lotus that blacked out the roof, lower door sills, and bumper lip.
My car actually wasn’t optioned with the Black Pack from factory – it came pretty much all red. I went and had it done on my own after I bought the car.
My real Advan GT are double staggered – 19″ in the rear, 18″ in the front. However, I couldn’t find 18″ GT available in 1/24 scale anywhere, so I decided to just run with the square 19″ setup that came from Aoshima.
The wheel faces are painted in Tamiya Light Gunmetal, to match the Arcane Silver coloring on my real wheels. My lips are machined and brushed silver, so I’m using some Molotow Chrome to achieve a similar effect here.
Some model mesh used for the front bumper grille openings.
I wanted a more realistic and detailed look out of all the vents on the car, but I also really didn’t want to try cutting all the inserts out of the diecast body. Just painting the vented areas in black would be lame, so I figured the next best option I had was laying some thin mesh on top to get as close to the look as possible.
I started by outlining all the vents in marker, so I could clearly distinguish their shape. Then I laid some Tamiya masking tape over the area and traced the outline again onto the tape.
The tape became my template that I could cut the exact vent shapes out of on mesh.
It actually…looks pretty good?! I didn’t have high hopes for this method since I thought it was just look like mesh laying on top of the body no matter what, but I think it actually sells it pretty well? I think having the super fine mesh was a key point in making it work – mesh with holes too large would look way out of scale.
Doing the same thing for all the smaller vents in the rear of the car around the engine bay.
Bburago never included brakes at all in the original model, so I just pulled some leftovers I had laying around – I think these were actually pulled off another diecast, since all 4 brakes are the same size (so no front or rear distinguished).
Finally, crafting a new exhaust tip that matches my aftermarket Lanari dual tips. These are actually made from a set of FRZ86 dual tips glued together with a piece of styrene pipe linking them.
Done! This wasn’t a complex build whatsoever – really when it comes down to it all I did was paint it a different color and add some wheels, along with some minor details. Certainly a far cry from the complex resin transkits I was building last year.
My custom license plate I had just mocked up in Photoshop including my plate frame and printed it on regular printer paper to be cut out and glued on a plate.
I considered sculpting the 400 rear wing that my real car has out of clay for the model, but decided the shape was just too complex for me to get right. As far as I’m aware there also aren’t any Evora 400 models available in 1/24 scale that I can pillage the wing from, so I decided to just leave the model with the stock wing.
Another technical inaccuracy is the rear diffuser – that aggressive diffuser that pokes out past the bumper is actually exclusive to the supercharged S model – my N/A Evora has a much more toned down variant. The rear end overall isn’t super accurate to my real car.
The wheels not being staggered larger in the rear doesn’t actually bother me as much as I thought it would. Surprisingly the fronts don’t look too large for being 19″ and the rears don’t look too small.
The only custom water slide decal I printed for this model was the front Lotus badge – I wanted to print the Lotus lettering for the rear bumper and the union jack shields I have on my A-panels near the fenders but the decals just turned out too small and grainy to be usable. I’m not even really happy with the front badge since it’s a rough cut around the edges and not a nice neat circle.