Lotus Esprit

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Keywords: lotus esprit, lotus, esprit, giugiaro, essex, jps, exotic, car, supercar, sport 300, sport 350, v8, s4, gt3, s4s, se, s1, s2, s2.2, s3, james bond, sports car

Description: Your complete guide to Britains Best Mid-Engined Supercar, the Lotus Esprit

The Lotus Esprit first went on sale in 1976 badged as the S1 with a 2-litre, 4 cylinder, 156bhp, mid-mounted engine. 25 years later the Lotus Esprit V8 2002 now has a 3.5-litre, 8 cylinder, twin-turbo, 350bhp engine. Over the intervening year there have been many evolutions of the Esprit, but only one major change in 1987 where the basic look of the Esprit was soften by designer Peter Stevens. This is why people group the Esprit into two different groups, Giugiaro (G Car) or Stevens (S Car).

Giorgetto Giugiaro was the man behind the original design of the Esprit (with the help of Colin Chapman and Lotus stylist Oliver Winterbottom) and was based on a lengthened Europa chassis with GRP (plastic) body and a mid-mounted Lotus engine. The Giugiaro Esprit was updated four times in the next 10 years (1976-1987), from S1 — S2 — S2.2 — S3 and finally the turbo Esprit.

The first major alterations to the Giugiaro Esprit outline occurred in October 1987, after around 4,700 Esprits had rolled of the Lotus production line. The brief was that 'A more modern and sophisticated shape was required, but with no need for change to the basic mechanicals'. This challenge was met by Peter Stevens, Colin Spooner and Ken Sears, who did such a great job, it has remained unchanged 15 years later, with only bumper and wing updates really changing the overall look of the Esprit. The Stevens Esprit model ran from 1987-1993 as NA (normally aspirated) — Turbo — Turbo HC and SE.

In 1993 Lotus designer Julian Thomson went to work on the next revamp of the Esprit, badged the S4. With Vauxhall now owning Lotus, their parts bin was set to, with a major update to the interior and only minor changes to the exterior. The mechanicals remain as those in the SE, still with a 4-cylinder 2.2 litre turbocharged and intercooled engine making 264bhp. Minor exterior changes included new front and rear bumpers, front spoiler, indicators, roof mounted aerial, side scoop and Vauxhall door handles. Most eye-catching was the new rear wing, raised to aid visibility. This evolution ran from 1993 to 2001 as the S4 — S4S — Sport 300 — V8 — GT3 — Sport 350 — V8-GT — V8-SE.

The latest rethink was released in 2002 by current Lotus designer Russell Carr, referred to as the 'Facelift Esprit'. Again no changes were made to the mechanicals of the V8, and the exterior only receiving new rear lights and the Sport 350 front spoiler. A few interior updates were made, but the basis of the update was to reduce the Esprit to one full spec model at a reduced price, making the Esprit a more attractive option against other marquees.

I'll now take you through all the Esprit models, giving you a little information to help you decide which ones for you. More detail information can be found under Esprit Models once you have an ideal what might make it onto your drive. Remember once you've bought it, you'll have to run it, check out my guide to running an Esprit to help you miss the many cash pitfall of Esprit ownership. Good Luck.

The first Esprit wasn't as fast as first though and suffers from quite a few mechanical problems. Good condition examples are rare and are more likely to be show cars at a premium price. Not the best bet for a useable car, more for the classic enthusiast.

Photogallery Lotus Esprit:

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