Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

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Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby tweetdriver63 » Wed 12.11.2014, 01:42

I love my Elan, but I've had it for seven years, and that's a long time for me to keep driving the same car. I also may be starting a new job before long that will require me leaving my car parked outside for a week or more at a time. I'll cover it, of course, but the Elan just isn't an ideal car for that situation, either from a security or a staying dry perspective.

I've been completely Lotusized though, so for me, anything that isn't a Lotus holds no real interest. If I had my druthers, it would be an Evora for me, but I don't have that kind of dinero on hand. I have liked the Elise ever since it came into being, but I don't think my old back could handle the rigors of entering and exiting one of those, specially after the back surgery two summers ago. All this leaves me now thinking about an Esprit.

The problem is that I have fears that an Esprit would have too many mechanical issues that would keep popping up. The Elan has been great, but it has a Japanese drivetrain.

The Esprits that I've been looking at in adverts the most are of the 1990-1995 era, and most are four-bangers. If anybody has some good knowledge where Esprits of that era are concerned, I would love to hear what to look for and which models are most likely going to be the most reliable (yes, I typed that with a straight face).

Here are a couple of examples of those that look good to me (from their ads anyway).

Red 1990

Red 1994

Silver 1991

This one, because of the price, I'm not sure if it's a legitimate ad or some kind of scam, but I'll put it up here anyway.
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Steve A » Wed 12.11.2014, 03:22

You might be better off asking here http://www.thelotusforums.com/forums/index.php?
there is a strong Esprit membership on there that will be only too pleased to help and advise you :D
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby epipete » Wed 12.11.2014, 09:56

Can't you just rent a garage Nr your new place of work? :lol:
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby HJ2 » Wed 12.11.2014, 10:59

Invest in a hardtop. Problem solved!
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Dave Eds » Wed 12.11.2014, 13:34

Have you thought about the limited issue Europa? Refined Elise! :wink:
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby rip » Wed 12.11.2014, 14:49

I was a fan of the Esprit...until I drove one. I didn't like the driving position very much at all. I was hugely disappointed & far prefer the Elan.
I don't expect you'll buy without trying though. You may well like it.
Esprits are a lot more troublesome too.
I agree with Dave Eds. I like the Europa S but there were very few made. Were any exported to the US?
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby tweetdriver63 » Wed 12.11.2014, 16:11

None of those Europas in the U.S.
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Dave Eds » Wed 12.11.2014, 17:00

rip wrote: I didn't like the driving position very much at all. I was hugely disappointed & far prefer the Elan.
I look even more stupid with a hankie on my head driving an Esprit


:lol:
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby theelanman » Wed 12.11.2014, 17:29

Dave Eds wrote:
rip wrote: I didn't like the driving position very much at all. I was hugely disappointed & far prefer the Elan.
I look even more stupid with a hankie on my head driving an Esprit


:lol:


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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby tweetdriver63 » Wed 12.11.2014, 19:29

Dave Eds wrote:
rip wrote: I didn't like the driving position very much at all. I was hugely disappointed & far prefer the Elan.
I look even more stupid with a hankie on my head driving an Esprit


:lol:


:bowdown:
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby rip » Wed 12.11.2014, 21:39

Dave Eds wrote:
rip wrote: I didn't like the driving position very much at all. I was hugely disappointed & far prefer the Elan.
I look even more stupid with a hankie on my head driving an Esprit


:lol:

:smt019
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby GeoffSmith » Wed 12.11.2014, 21:42

Made I laarf. :smt081
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby LotusEnthusiast » Wed 12.11.2014, 23:58

I am not an Esprit expert but here is my story-
I've been wanting an Esprit for awhile now. Might try and get one soon for the right price. Of course I'll have to trade my daily driver in for it first, which means the Esprit will be my daily which might not be the best idea since the esprits have maintenance issues. However if looked after and cared for it shouldn't be a problem.

Turbos and SE- Make sure you get the Cargecooler Truboed ones I heard that they are just better and for the price nothing can beat them.
S4, S4s- My favorite design out of all the esprit's, besides the S1 of course. A little bit more money but well worth it.
V8- money bit in my opinion when talking maintenance and its just to much for me...

I've driven both S4 and V8 esprits and both are very different actually... The V8 was big and hard to turn and driving it in the city made it tough especially if you drive an Elan first then get into that. On the interstate though, it was amazing! Now the S4 I drove I fell in love with. Not so much power like the V8 so it didn't scare me and with a smaller engine and the car weighing less made it much easier to drive in the city and on the interstate you couldn't even tell the difference from the V8.

For me the driving position is hard because I'm 6'5". My head was pretty much touching the top of both Esprits but that didn't stop me from driving them and loving it. Remember the Esprits are touring/gt cars not an Elan or Elise. As you know I have an Elise, Elan and a 74 Europa and I drive those hard and fast sometimes; however, the Esprit you drive it with class and dignity but you can definitely still have some fun with them.

In conclusion, do your research on maintenance and service records on everyone you look at. The belts and alternator are the big ones to watch out for I've read. Definitely need to drive one to get a feel for it because it will be different then driving the Elan. I really do love the esprits but you need to make sure you buy the right one, which means talking to an expert on them. Hope this helped, I thought I'd share my story of driving both the V8 and S4 and help you out a little.
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Don.Hasi » Thu 13.11.2014, 07:50

tweetdriver63 wrote: I'll cover it, of course, but the Elan just isn't an ideal car for that situation, either from a security or a staying dry perspective.

I've been completely Lotusized though, so for me, anything that isn't a Lotus holds no real interest.

err... with this conclusion the result will be: ZERO :mrgreen: I dont know any Lotus which will stay dry... Image

Nevertheless. Your decision is spot on. Just yesterday Classic Cars has had the best story of nearly all time. In my experience the drive of an Esprit is a complete joy. Perhaps it matters which of the huge sum of variants you are driving and of course like ours... in which state the suspension items are. CC has also a certain car in his story which looks very good. Enjoy

Classic Cars magazine News Editor Sam Dawson's been tempted by a Lotus. Over to you Sam...
'People like to talk about the 'decline of the British sports car', but it's all nonsense really. We might mourn the passing of mass-market Fifties and Sixties roadsters, but in reality all they amounted to, from a mechanical point of view, were rebodied saloons with the roof chopped off. Which means that, given that RWD has given way to FWD in the mass market, the modern equivalent of an MGB is probably one of those coupé-convertible things based on a hatchback. Sorry, but it's true – the main point of cars like the 'B and the Triumph Spitfire was frivolity, fun and style. This made them no different to any other country's sports cars – any manufacturer could, and did, make something similar. Look at Fiat, for example.
'However, there is such thing as a proper British sports car, and it's very much alive. I'm talking about a genre focused on the art of chassis engineering and weight reduction, forged in the postwar racetrack boom in light engineering units throughout the land. Something honed on racetracks and clad in glassfibre, powered by an engine with its roots in something mass-market but tuned and modified beyond recognition. Lotus, Ginetta, TVR, Caterham – these are as British as sports cars get, characterised by their two-fingers-to-civility exhaust snort and the advantage of standing-start acceleration and cornering agility over high power and torque.
'Look around the world's racetracks and you'll see it's a recipe that works. British-engineered cars dominate every motor sport grid. The modern British sports car tradition is upheld by the likes of Radical, Ariel and BAC – and of course Ginetta and Lotus never went away.
'But it was Lotus that took the bold decision to unite this definitively British method of building sports cars with Italian style, and the Esprit was born. This one may be the Peter Stevens-facelifted post-1988 version, but in many ways it's the best of the bunch – and one of the best classic supercars you can buy today.
'The reason why is simple: it manages to combine all the ownership advantages of a British sports car – the rust-free glassfibre bodywork and galvanised chassis, the parts-bin construction, the network of friendly specialists – with looks and performance more akin to a Lamborghini Countach. That's right. A Countach. And I know that because I pitted an Esprit Turbo just like this against one back in the summer.
'The Esprit may only have four cylinders against the Countach's 12, but mighty tuning and light weight - i.e., the things that make the Esprit truly British – hand it the advantage off the line. The Countach may be just behind it, but all it does in comparison is shout louder and burn more fuel in the process. And as Colin Chapman might have pointed out, you need to save fuel if you want to minimise pit stops.
'And then you get to a corner. The Esprit skips through nimbly with feedback zinging through its wheel, while the Countach thumps its way round sending nothing but vagueness through its front tyres. And then there's the top speed. Lotus said the Esprit will do 160 and the road testers got it to 160 with ease. Lamborghini said the Countach would do 200mph, but the road testers only managed to get 160 or thereabouts out of it before its incessant twitching and writhing forced them to give up. In short, the Esprit is as fast as you'd go in a Countach.
'The Lotus Esprit Turbo is the perfect super car for Britain. It's also the perfect car for anyone who grew up wanting a Countach. Because if you buy one – for as little as £9k if you look around although the £13k top estimate for this one is still modest for a car with such abilities – you can be happy in the knowledge that your car is proof of the essential 'rightness' of a proper British sports car, as also proved by the majority of the world's F1 teams.
'And if anyone makes a snarky comment about glassfibre and Vauxhall switches, they're clearly a sore loser.'

This car's up for auction this weekend with Silverstone Auctions – more details at http://www.silverstoneauctions.co.uk


EDIT: concerning the technical aspect... they are on the same level like Elan Turbos. Perhaps a tiny bit more complicated but not so much ahead, that this will really count in. You will have nearly the same faults to look at. And the situation related to parts is a bit better.
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby johanvanboven » Thu 13.11.2014, 23:27

Hi Chris,
Don't buy an Esprit unless you're a good mechanic, and got some $ in advance to spend.
After 2 selfmade 7's, i got a real Lotus, an Exell as daily driver, exellent car. Not any problems at all, unless high fuel consumption 12L / 100Km, highway use.
2 yrs later changed it to an nice looking Esprit 1993 with 35.000 km.
Not one week without having to repair something. In one year, i could write more down than on this site's wikilec.
Just like you, i had to drive it once a week to work, about 120km (75mls) and back home. Luckily there was a railwaystation not far away, to get home when the car needed some work.
Even driving this goodlooking car is a hell. No assisted steering (got this a bit better by fitting 195 width tyres), turbo which comes in hard, dangerous in rain with reardrive. Very bad sight of traffic around, and very high fuel consumption, 14L on 100Km. Brakes are even as bad as on our std. Elan's.
I sold is after a year, and was happy it went to Spain, as far away as possible.
Time to buy another Exell, best daily driver of Lotus in the past.
As times change, and have to drive about 220 km a day now (140mls) there is no Lotus option anymore, so this keeps us having another Lotus weekend fun car now, the best one ever, the Elan.

The option to fit a hardtop would be a nice one, or to get an Europe to US would even be better as daily car.

Fuel consumption of Elan and Europe are comparable, about 8L/100km, a lot less than the 'old' 2.2L engine, which needs 14L/100km for the same way of driving. Is fuel still cheap in US?

But they tell the S4 is a 'good' Esprit. Strange you never see one when you go to a Lotus ride.

If you want a list of what to expect on the goodlooking Esprit, I will gladly provide it.

Johan
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Artaban » Fri 14.11.2014, 10:13

I don't think the advice of "don't buy an Esprit unless you are a good mechanic" applies just to the Esprit, it applies to any Lotus. I bought a well looked after M100 5 years ago, albeit with limited history, but it showed all the signs of being well maintained. However I totalled up my spending on the car since I took ownership and I have over £16,000 of receipts and I still need to rebuild the suspension. This is by far the most I have spent on owning a Lotus. The Elan+2s was probably close to that figure but the two Esprits were much cheaper. I had a Peter Stevens 1990 non turbo model and a Sport 350; neither leaked like the Elan.

My advice would be to make sure its got power steering, its OK without it when you are moving but a real pain when manoeuvring in a car park without it. Personally I'd go for the S4S or Sport 350 but these fetch some of the highest prices as they are sought after. They are amongst the quickest and nicest to drive. I'd buy from an owner who had a history folder bulging with receipts from the past few years or so. I think the only relevant part of an Esprits history is what has been done in recent years. It would be worth talking to Pete or John at PNM Engineering as they both have Esprits and use them all the time. They also specialise in the Esprit and know every bolt and washer on the cars and may have customers looking to sell. Don't be fooled by someone who has spent loads of money making it look pretty at the expense of the mechanics of the car; you'll end up spending a fortune rebuilding the thing. Prices are now much stronger than they were so grabbing a bargain is not easy but I would say that you stand a better chance of getting more of your money back when you sell it than you will with an Elan.

I never had issues with using my Esprits as daily drivers. I've been fortunate to have had some pretty exotic sports cars (Ferrari's, Porsches, Mercedes) but the one I miss the most is the Lotus Sport 350. I can still see the staunchest of atheist passengers crying out for God to save them as I accelerated from 30-100 in no time at all with a few corners thrown into the equation for added excitement. Incredible car. Drive one, you won't stop grinning.

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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby tweetdriver63 » Mon 24.11.2014, 20:17

Oh my god! This car was just listed on ebay a couple of hours ago, with no reserve. Somebody help me! Why is my timing always so bad? Here I am in Afghanistan, with no way to go look at a car, and probably no way to buy, and this comes up!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/121497447364?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT

The buy it now price is pretty damn good, even with 80,000 miles on it, but to start it at that starting price with no reserve????
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Tyger » Thu 27.11.2014, 17:46

I just bought a very nice 1990 Esprit SE this summer with less than 20K miles on the clock (it still had front tires from 2000!) Paid a few hundred more than that V8 on eBay. I'd rather have the 4-cylinder engine, but I guess that's personal preference. I will say it's quite a beast compared to my Elan (and Elise). Totally different driving experience... are you quite sure you want to make the switch??
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby tweetdriver63 » Thu 27.11.2014, 18:41

I've never owned/driven any car as long as I have the Elan. I love it, but I get antsy if I don't get something new/different. Since I'm totally Lotus-bit, I don't have too many options for a suitable replacement. I can't afford an Evora, and I don't want to try to get in and out of an Elise on a regular basis. I'm also a bit tired of getting wet (it rains a fair amount in Mississippi), although I do have nearly a complete set of new seals for the roof (A-pillars, Intermediates, and Falling pillars) that I haven't gotten round to installing.

I too like the 4-cyl better, even though I've never driven either. The performance numbers are pretty damn good (0-60 is about the same as an Evora S, and only about 1/2 second slower than the 700+hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat everybody's making such a big deal over), and the gas mileage is nearly as good as the Elan. The one guy I know who has an Esprit has a 2002, and he says it suffers most from that engine being too much for the chassis. That one on Ebay is just killing me because of the price somebody might end up getting for.

There's a 1994 S4 on autotrader for $22,900 that I very much like. I'm not a huge fan of the spoiler halfway up the back, but I can live with it. My research so far says from 1991 SE through the S4 and S4S are the best first Esprit models.
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Re: Thinking about getting an Esprit -- advice?

Postby Tyger » Sat 29.11.2014, 03:33

Wait... why only the '91 SE on? :)
Although you may be right about getting into (out of) an Elise, it's a LOT easier to drive than an Esprit, in my experience. One big drawback to an Elise as a daily driver is lack of cargo space. The Esprit actually has a fair amount in the back, and I've heard some people take out the spare and use some of the front for storage too. The funny thing about the spare is you can't put the flat tire where the spare came from. You could maybe put a front wheel in the rear compartment, but the only place for a flat rear wheel is in the passenger seat!
For general amusement, I am attaching a pic of my Esprit next to a Mini. Guess which one is easier to get in and out of?
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