Supercar Performance On A Budget: Exomotive’s LS3-Powered Exocet

A 1.6+ maximum lateral G on the skidpad. A lap time of two minutes and five seconds around Virginia International Raceway’s full course. These are figures we’d normally associate with track-tuned supercars like the Lamborghini Huracán Performante and the Dodge Viper ACR, machines that have price tags that are well into six-figure territory.

But today, we’re not looking at the status symbol of an oil baron, we’re talking about Kevin Patrick’s Exocet Sport. As the founder of Exomotive, Patrick’s LS3-powered Exocet is something of an ambassador build for the company, showcasing what’s possible with their machines. Yet beyond the hair-raising performance of Patrick’s build, what’s truly shocking is the fact that this kind of capability can had for well under $20,000, all in.

Colin Chapman, a hugely influential automotive engineer and the founder of Lotus Cars once said his design philosophy was to “Simplify, then add lightness.” Exomotive’s Exocet Sport takes this concept to a degree that should put a smile on any track rat’s face – here you have everything you need to go fast safely and absolutely nothing you don’t. It equates to a car that weighs more than half a ton less then a Subaru BRZ. Outfitted with LS3 power, it’s a recipe for one hell of a performance machine.

“In the automotive realm, you can typically only get two out of three options when it comes to fast, reliable, and affordable,” says Exomotive’s Taylor Perkins. “Kevin Patrick found a way to offer all three when he created Exomotive, and started providing adrenaline pumping Exocets to the market.”

To be fair, Patrick’s Exocet Sport is a bit out of the norm – even for Exomotive’s standards. Here we’ll get the low-down on this burly machine as well as the overall concept behind these little track monsters straight from the experts at Exomotive.

In the automotive realm, you can typically only get two out of three options when it comes to fast, reliable, and affordable. Kevin Patrick found a way to offer all three when he created Exomotive and started providing adrenaline pumping Exocets to the market. –  Taylor Perkins, Exomotive

The Concept

Exomotive is, in the simplest sense, a chassis builder. Where other track day cars like the BAC Mono and Aerial Atom are essentially complete cars minus the engine – and that’s typically due to legal obligations – the Exocet kit is a different strategy. Here, Exomotive’s tube chassis kit is combined with a healthy portion of the mechanical bits and pieces an NA or NB-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata that are sourced from a donor candidate provided by the buyer, cars which can be had for well under five grand these days.

A look at the contents of the Exocet Sport kit (shown with optional fenders, wing mounts and powder coated in Hot Yellow). All Exocets include laser-cut aluminum floors, transmission cover, and bulkhead components. For ease of installation, each panel is pre-bent and complete with pilot holes. The floors even have drainage holes in case you get caught out in the rain. The Exocet fiberglass body panel set includes the nose, hood, rear tank cover, and gauge cowl. Fenders are also available as an option.

Retaining the Miata’s front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, the kits are designed to accept the MX-5 powertrain, along with a turbocharger if desired. But for those who’d like a bit more oomph, there’s also now the option of ditching the four-cylinder powerplant altogether and replacing it with one of GM’s LS-based V8s.

At 1,700 pounds wet, it doesn’t take a mechanical engineering degree to understand that LS-power in a car that has almost a third less mass to carry around versus a first-generation Miata is going to have a mind blowing power-to-weight ratio.

And while the track is where these things really thrive, they can also be registered for street use if customers want that functionality as well – it mostly comes down to lights and turn signals. “It all started when Kevin sold his Ducati, and was looking for the next heart-pumping toy that would provide a little more safety than his two wheeled love,” Perkins explains. “He partnered with Mills Extreme Vehicles in the UK to become the sole provider of the Exocet here in the States.”

The Exocet lineup ranges from the $6,999 base model to the $8,299 Exocet Race model, which features an integrated full roll cage. Sitting between the two is the Exocet Sport you see here. Like the Race model, the Sport’s roll bar exceeds the requirements of NASA, SCCA, FIA, and IMSA safety regulations. Due to the easier ingress and egress of the Sport model, this is the one the company recommends for drivers who plan to use their Exocet for both track and street use.

Perkins says that after connecting with Mills Extreme Vehicles, it wasn’t long before Patrick was ready to apply some of his engineering notes to the Exocet. “While the original chassis design that was being shipped over was a blast, he wanted to improve upon the frame in order to make it an even better machine for those who wanted to not only drive it on the street, but also the track,” he says.

“After a viral video of his fresh build being backed into by an SUV, he caught the attention of Warren Van Nus, who would soon after sign on to re-engineer the chassis. Warren re-designed the chassis through CAD, and utilized tab and slot methods to ensure exact production of every frame by utilizing laser cut and machine bent tubing, which self jigs. Through this method, and improved materials, this created a frame that is seven times stiffer than the original chassis, allowing up to 700 lb-ft of torque to be injected into the frame without warping.”

And with that, this 525 horsepower beast was born.

Parts Used In The Build

  • Donor: NA Mazda Miata
  • Engine: GM Performance LS376/525
  • Transmission: 2002 F-body T-56 6-speed Manual
  • Differential: Cadillac CTS-V 3.23
  • Subframe: V8Roadsters Exocet V8
  • Wheels/Tires: JR Racing 15×10.5
  • Suspension: Prothane polyurethane bushings, AFCO springs and struts, FM V8 front sway bar
  • Seating: Sparco
  • Safety: Driven 5-point harness
  • Steering Wheel: Driven 13.5″ Deep Dish
  • Wings: Rear NASCAR Car of Tomorrow
The V8-Powered Exocet Sport

“While the standard Exocet build is based off of early-model Miatas ranging from 1990-2005, Kevin wanted to show just how crazy you could get with your own build,” Perkins explains. The result is an Exocet with a chassis combination that includes a V8Roadsters Exocet V8 tubular subframe, NA Miata suspension components, AFCO springs and shocks, a Flyin’ Miata front sway bar, Wilwood brakes at all four corners and 15×10.5-inch JR Racing wheels wrapped in Hoosier A7 rubber. That beefy combination is built around this Exocet’s centerpiece, the 6.2-liter naturally aspirated LS376 crate motor from Chevrolet Performance.

Motivation for this particular Exocet comes from a 6.2-liter Chevrolet Performance LS376 V8 crate motor that puts 465 horsepower to the pavement. Despite the massive increase in displacement versus the 1.8-liter mill from a Miata, the LS motor’s compact design and aluminum block and cylinder heads equate to a negligible difference in weight, allowing the LS3-powered Exocet to maintain its excellent weight balance with nearly five times more grunt on tap.

“The powerplant puts down 465 to the rear wheels thanks to the MS3Pro Plug and Play engine management unit tuned by DIYAutotune,” Perkins tells us. A set of Flyin’ Miata LSX headers is matched up with an exhaust system that was custom built by Exomotive and Enthuzacar.

Hooked to the LS3 is a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual gearbox transmission out of a fourth-generation GM F-Body, and the power is transferred to the wheels through a Getrag rearend from a Cadillac CTS-V with 3.23:1 gears.

To put this vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio into perspective, if it were a C7 Corvette Grand Sport, it would have around 1,100-horsepower. That’s a lot.

When you're dealing with a vehicle whose power-to-weight ratio makes a Bugatti Veyron look like a tug boat, fast lap times become more about bravery and a patient, strategic use of the loud pedal rather than the outright capability of the machine at 10/10ths. This is the kind of track weapon that takes skilled drivers literally years to discover how to fully exploit, and we can only imagine how fun that learning process is. The fact that these things can be made fully street legal with just a few simple modifications is just icing on the cake.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that this thing is making a name for itself out on the track, taking the title in the Grassroots Motorsports Skidpad Challenge in 2016 and posting the aforementioned 2:05 around Virginia International Raceway’s full course during Tire Rack’s Ultimate Track Car Challenge last year.

Perkins says there’s more in it, too. “Our driver says there is plenty of muscle left to go sub two minutes in 2018,” he tells us. “We’re just getting started.”

Article Sources

About the author

Bradley Iger

Lover of noisy cars, noisy music, and noisy bulldogs. Brad can often be found flogging something expensive along the twisting tarmac of the Angeles Forest.
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