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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone owned a Esprit?

Sorry to go off topic a bit... but I keep idly debating the merits of buying Either a non turbo S1/S2 esprit or a late G series (86, 87) turbo, and trying to figure out just how crazy an idea this is.

A bit of background...
I've always fixed my own vehicles and am halfway through a rebuild on a 73 GTV. My work on the GTV is as far as I've ever gone: full motor rebuild, welding etc, and it's given me the confidence to consider some other cars whose resale prices are probably kept low by the high cost of repairs (when paying a mechanic).

I posed this here because I somehow get the feeling that a lot of people on this board have the same rough level of skill / time / space / money that I do, and I might get a better answer here than asking on a board where people are debating $30-80k lotuses vs 911 turbos vs 308s.

To be clear, the cars I'm seeing are in the 12-18k range, sort of like this one:
1977 Red S1 lotus Esprit
 

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Try Lotus Forum - Lotus Talk. I have never owned one, but from what I understand they are much more fragile than an Alfa and parts availability is somewhat more difficult. Lotus sourced alot of parts from other manufacturers so part of the problem is figuring out what the source car was. One reason you find so many Esprits with low mileage is that they were very hard to keep running in the first place.

The market for older Esprits is also smaller than for Alfas. If you spend time and money on one, it will be hard to get that out when it comes time to sell when compared to a GTV, Ferrarri or 911. In other words, you can buy a $14K Esprit, spend $5K on it and have a $15K Esprit, or or buy a $13K 911, spend $5K and have a $18K car at the end of the day.
 

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I owned a '74 Elite S1 for quite a few years. I also did quite a bit of work on an Esprit Turbo tarmac rally car. I thought the Esprit was an awsome car. As the owner of the car lived in a different state, I 'had' to do lots of test driving to make sure the car was up to scratch. Very very fast and handled great. It always put a smile on my face. (unlike the cars owner, but that is a different story.) One late night test drive I spent mile after mile at well over 200 kp/h on a long straight country road. I would own one in a heart beat given the chance.
The Elite came about when I did a stint living in England a while ago. When I arrived there, I wanted to buy a not too expensive car to use. I shopped around for some sort of esprit. I went to the annual Lotus club show at donnington race track and found a bright red Turbo on a trailer with rear bumper damage and an asking price of 3,500 pounds. Just a bit more than I wanted to spend, but with hindsight I wish I had got it.
I ended up finding the Elite not too far from where I was staying only needing a bit of work for !600 pounds.
I had a great time terrorising the motorways in that car. 100mph plus everywhere. Cant do it anymore though.
I then bought the car back here to Aus, and used it every day. And thats when the issues began, Lots of suspension dramas and a few engine issues. But being a mechanic myself, nothing I couldn't over come. And most of the issues were Elite only related issues.
So with my small amount of Lotus experiance I can recomend this, You probably wont get back the mone you spend on the car. Buy the latest model car you can. Each model that came out over the years had the major bugs ironed out of the previous model. So they got much better as the years went on. Spend as much as you can on a better car and ask for reciepts on work that has been done. This way you can spend less time working on it and more time driving it. I found them not too bad to work on once I got used to them with good parts availability through England.
You wont get back the money that you spend on the car but you will enjoy being amongst the 'supercar' ranks at an affordable price.
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, very helpful writeup.

I'm certainly aware that purchase price + maintenance does not = resale price. However since the purchase price part of the equation is often very attractive, and ANY performance exotic is going to require maintenance, I'm very tempted.

For instance, how much 911 or 308 would $15k buy? Zero to none. How much 944 turbo or Bertone GTV for that matter? I realize that some would argue the appreciation potential for 911/308 is greater, but I also have a distinct feeling that one day people (maybe I) will be saying "there was a time i could afford a 150mph, guiguiaro designed wedge with no rust issues and an insane interior"

I owned a '74 Elite S1 for quite a few years. I also did quite a bit of work on an Esprit Turbo tarmac rally car. I thought the Esprit was an awsome car. As the owner of the car lived in a different state, I 'had' to do lots of test driving to make sure the car was up to scratch. Very very fast and handled great. It always put a smile on my face. (unlike the cars owner, but that is a different story.) One late night test drive I spent mile after mile at well over 200 kp/h on a long straight country road. I would own one in a heart beat given the chance.
The Elite came about when I did a stint living in England a while ago. When I arrived there, I wanted to buy a not too expensive car to use. I shopped around for some sort of esprit. I went to the annual Lotus club show at donnington race track and found a bright red Turbo on a trailer with rear bumper damage and an asking price of 3,500 pounds. Just a bit more than I wanted to spend, but with hindsight I wish I had got it.
I ended up finding the Elite not too far from where I was staying only needing a bit of work for !600 pounds.
I had a great time terrorising the motorways in that car. 100mph plus everywhere. Cant do it anymore though.
I then bought the car back here to Aus, and used it every day. And thats when the issues began, Lots of suspension dramas and a few engine issues. But being a mechanic myself, nothing I couldn't over come. And most of the issues were Elite only related issues.
So with my small amount of Lotus experiance I can recomend this, You probably wont get back the mone you spend on the car. Buy the latest model car you can. Each model that came out over the years had the major bugs ironed out of the previous model. So they got much better as the years went on. Spend as much as you can on a better car and ask for reciepts on work that has been done. This way you can spend less time working on it and more time driving it. I found them not too bad to work on once I got used to them with good parts availability through England.
You wont get back the money that you spend on the car but you will enjoy being amongst the 'supercar' ranks at an affordable price.
Good luck.
 

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$15K will get you a pretty nice 911 SC, not to mention a variety of 944's, 951's, 968's and early Boxsters. Among 80's cars, it will also buy a very nice 928, BMW M3, M5, M6 or 635, Jag XJS or GTV6. Among 70's cars, it will get you the best 914, Triumph TR6, TR8 among others. All of these cars IMHO (maybe not the Boxster) will be better long term classics than an early Esprit.

Nearby me was a 38,000 mile Porsche 951 in pristine condition that took months to sell with an asking price of $14K. That car would run rings around the Esprit and be more reliable to boot.
 

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I had one. I don't have a lot of time at the moment to write, but this will get you started: RONGINEER - Automotive Product Design & Development. Ignoring $$/value considerations, I think you'd enjoy the car, unique, simple, parts no problem, reliabilty ok, fast but not particularly quick, great feel & vibe. I bought it used in '79 for $15K, could have bought a 246 Dino for the same price at the time, but the Italian stuff scared me off....ten years later they were $250K....

HTH,

Ron
 

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Lotus

So I must be the only one who says NO to teh Lotus purchase. Sure a fun car but parts availability what a nightmare. Interior parts, instrument cluster, seats, having the dash removed and recovered, on and on--- lot of fun somewhat, a/c lets get serious, ingress/egress no for the aged but it is a Lotus ---- I not only worked on them, I restored them and finding parts costly -- used parts not really --- but again it is a Lotus. If these are not stoppers then have at it again it is a Lotus---have fun and good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I was thinking a good way to get a feel for the car would be a Pat Braden or even Brooklands style manual - but couldn't find anything on Amazon. Everything seemd to be more a history of the brand. Anyone know of a workshop style manual or "bible" for the esprit?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
**** that BAT for finding all the good deals. Just kidding, I check it every 2 hours. But I'm telling you all... the more I think about it the more I think the Esprit is the undervalued buy of the century.
 

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Has anyone owned a Esprit?

Sorry to go off topic a bit... but I keep idly debating the merits of buying Either a non turbo S1/S2 esprit or a late G series (86, 87) turbo, and trying to figure out just how crazy an idea this is.

A bit of background...
I've always fixed my own vehicles and am halfway through a rebuild on a 73 GTV. My work on the GTV is as far as I've ever gone: full motor rebuild, welding etc, and it's given me the confidence to consider some other cars whose resale prices are probably kept low by the high cost of repairs (when paying a mechanic).

I posed this here because I somehow get the feeling that a lot of people on this board have the same rough level of skill / time / space / money that I do, and I might get a better answer here than asking on a board where people are debating $30-80k lotuses vs 911 turbos vs 308s.

To be clear, the cars I'm seeing are in the 12-18k range, sort of like this one:
1977 Red S1 lotus Esprit
if your really interested, i may have one for sale. its been sitting for 10 years or so too. in great condition when i put it away but im sure it will need tending to to get it up and running. im not near the car and dont have the time to tend to it.

its a 81 normally aspirated S3 probably only 1 of 4 in all of the usa license,registered with DOT papers as i was once told. i could have easily bought a turbo car at the time but i love the early clean G bod over the boy racer turbo cladding. i have a soft spot for the S1/S2 cars but they were woefully built and desperately slow in stock usa spec. the S3 was a quantum leap with the 2.2, galvanized turbo chassis and overall build quality. one day when time permits i would love to build a S1 with a later drivetrain and chassis. maybe in the next life.

PM if your serious

happy holidays

db

ps here's a little tidbit, the original ital design esprit concept had alfa 105 GTV door handles!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
PM'd. wait is that a RHD car!?

if your really interested, i may have one for sale. its been sitting for 10 years or so too. in great condition when i put it away but im sure it will need tending to to get it up and running. im not near the car and dont have the time to tend to it.

its a 81 normally aspirated S3 probably only 1 of 4 in all of the usa license,registered with DOT papers as i was once told. i could have easily bought a turbo car at the time but i love the early clean G bod over the boy racer turbo cladding. i have a soft spot for the S1/S2 cars but they were woefully built and desperately slow in stock usa spec. the S3 was a quantum leap with the 2.2, galvanized turbo chassis and overall build quality. one day when time permits i would love to build a S1 with a later drivetrain and chassis. maybe in the next life.

PM if your serious

happy holidays

db

ps here's a little tidbit, the original ital design esprit concept had alfa 105 GTV door handles!
 

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I just thought of another good thing about the Esprit era of Lotus. That is of Stealth Anti Radar Technology. It's only a theory, but several times when driving my Elite I knew I was being targeted by police hand held radar and was speeding (not by much) only too see the cop seem to have a few goes at trying to get a lock on me and then having a good look at the radar unit as I went by as if looking for a malfunction.
Think about it. A very low and wedge like shape, nothing but sharp angles and no forward facing flat surfaces. And the most important thing, made of plastic.
I may be on to something here.....
 

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And one more thing, I think the Esprit door handles are Morris Marina and the tail light Rover 3500 sedan. (nothing to do with stealth fighters)
 

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I have a 1988 Esprit for sale....fully sorted

You'll find them a bit fussier than a 911. Gotta warm it up for a full 5 minutes at least for it to be able to easily move from rest without stalling. After that, it's fine.

If you intend to park downtown a lot, you need to worry about cars parked in front of you, as you're so low that the entire car is below the bottom of the window of many SUV's.

If it's a fun weekend car, this isn't a big deal, of course.

There are a bunch of things that go south on Esprits from age: fuel vent lines, clutch lines, suspension bushings, and often the headlight pod control modules and/or motors. Parts are pretty much available from JAE and not too crazy priced.

I've had 2, both were 1988s; first one was 2 years old, had it 1990-1992. It had lower miles than the one I have now (and am selling), but ran really hot all the time...this is a very stressed engine, over 100hp/liter, and I don't think running hot helps. My current car runs at 80C or lower pretty much all the time. Occasionally, on a hot day, with A/C on, in stop & go traffic, the needle will rise to dead center (90C...the "happy" range is 80-100C).

Tires are hard to fine, and quite expensive. You don't want to buy one that needs tires.

I'm selling mine for a number of reasons: I bought a plane; I've got a bunch of other "toys"; etc.

It's on eBay here:

Lotus : Esprit - eBay (item 200578380590 end time Feb-26-11 12:48:54 PST)



Michael.
 
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