Lotus Esprit Classic Cars Magazine

11 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Lotus Esprit Classic Cars Magazine отключены
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Lotus Esprit

Classic Car May

Colin Chapman s flair and produced the remarkable Lotus 21 years ago.

Though by cash problems, it grew one of the true greats, says Dron

As a driver, it s hard not to this car in true Lotus it became a great driving with extraordinary roadholding and an subtlety of handling. There s a feeling of real racer it.

It s incredible that it came being at all In the early Seventies, dropped all its established models to upmarket with the totally new Eclat and Esprit, all to be powered by new engines. The idea was to produce a of supercars at bargain prices by modern manufacturing methods.

As got stuck into the practical of this very ambitious new era in its it became increasingly clear the new generation of cars would to cost much more planned. Meanwhile, income was and, with the general far from healthy, Lotus was on the edge of financial disaster those years. Only the of Colin Chapman and his team the company alive.

After the Elite and Eclat in 1974 and they had great difficulty in the means to turn the third new the Giugiaro-designed Esprit, into a road car but the Italian stylist s commitment helped to keep the moving.

Against the odds, made it For once, a fantasy car was put into production: Giugiaro s exercise appeared at the 1972 Show and the production version was in late 1975. We know now early cars were developed but the Esprit was on the road, development and inspired restyling the years allowed it to endure.

s more to this than A key point of the lasting appeal of the must be the mixture of passenger car and race team personnel who on it. This produced a remarkable but not, for sure, without (well glossed over) technical arguments in the early

The Esprit had its faults but from the it had the vital ingredient of being both to those within the and to the world outside. In the gloomy of the mid-Seventies it was invigorating to see such a boldly executed, utterly sports car.

It was very to Colin Chapman s heart: he was to produce it, whatever problems faced. When DeLorean to buy Lotus, the other -models discussed but the Esprit was always to be so that Chapman could to make it.

By the late Seventies, Lotus cars were reasonably well and the Formula One was on top of the world. It s just a pity Chapman ever met John let alone got involved in saving his 2 motor car from the perdition it

Lofty Dron does fit Giugiaro Esprit, but only here he is at the wheel of Chris s smart Turbo.

There s more room in post-1987

BEHIND THE WHEEL

Before else is said, let s be clear one thing the Lotus Esprit one of the greatest drivers cars made for the road. That is the truth of it. Early Esprits sensational but it wasn t as easy to put a show dream car into as Colin Chapman probably The essentials were fabulous but a prototype car was put on the market to get some back before the company under.

The dream was strong enough to you want to love it but it was a while Lotus managed to eliminate the element.

When the new Esprit arrived it was considered interesting but not enough to deserve the tag of supercar . The of performance is often overstated: to put it in the standstill to 60mph accel-eration recorded in Motor s Road of 1977 was 7.5 sec and, though speed was not measured, the magazine Over 130mph is probably True, these are not supercar but they re hardly slow. figures for the cheaper Triumph regarded in the Seventies and since as a and powerful real man s car , were and 8.5 sec.

Barry Ely s Commemorative S2, here, certainly did not feel on the road to me.

Lotus Esprit S1

Our car, John Roberts S1 note very Seventies and Giugiaro badge. Most S1 went to the US. Engine cover was fitted to Series 1 cars; alloy wheels were unique to the early Esprit.

The Esprits had phenomenal roadholding and astonishing traction but the steering was below Lotus standards: the noise was enough to drive you and there were several problems. But few British drivers experienced an SI, as virtually all of them abroad. Fortunately, the energy Lotus was such that the rapidly became good to own and live with.

Performance was improved: the normally aspirated 2.2 0-60mph in 6.5sec, with an 135mph top speed: and the original managed 5.6sec, with a 152mph maximum.

The Esprit was improved but some inherent remained even with the of the S3 and Turbo: these were bad visibility, especially to the rear, a heating and ventilation system many attempts, it took a long time to get it right), on the screen (worse with interiors), small pedals were too close together if you choose the right shoes getting in) and lack of headroom for tall drivers. Unusually folk are more comfortable in the cars, which don t have extra ventilation outlet by the knee. Drivers of normal dimensions find Esprits however, and while there are practical and civilised supercars that era, for pure pleasure the Esprit is a match for any and than most.

Lotus Essex interior

The experience of a mid-engined car with its engine longitudinally is rare enough: in an the sense of balance, surefootedness in the wet and of control when driving are strong sources of pleasure. You to be something of an expert to explore its roadholding limit but only it is so high. The ride is unusually too: with no lump of ahead of you, it s uncanny the way the wheels handle bumps and in the road.

Lotus was always at showing that lightweight, sports cars can be made to well and the Esprit is an outstanding

Try to put aside any prejudice against engines. The brand-new 1996 V8 looks magnificent and will, no lift the Esprit into an higher league but, without doubt, it will rather more as well. The engines in all previous Esprits, aspirated and turbocharged, are admirably efficient and enjoyable to use, if

Furthermore, the Turbo has unexpectedly torque from low rpm, no sense of a step in the curve as the comes in ; yet all Esprit engines are at high engine speeds, Before electronic engine was mastered the quickest Turbos rather fussy but all blown are firmly in the supercar performance the early Essex of Paul Graham Bedwell s dry-sump and Chris Cole s slightly car all reminded me of that fact. are real road rockets.

we were invited to visit the factory, to photograph the cars in an setting, we were joined by engineer James Grantham his LHD Esprit from 1986, a US-spec test car. He it some years ago and converted the to UK spec. It s one of the first with the gearbox. which replaced the old SM it also has outboard discs. says: It always amazes I get back into it and drive.

s so much in reserve.

He s right. All the agreed that you get used to the visibility and other negative listed in the road tests. you get behind the wheel it s genuine pleasure at bargain price.

that really matters is serious performance. great incredible roadholding. powerful with good feel, an good gearchange and the lithe of a well-sorted racer. It s not a sensible it s an escapist s dream, and a fine too.

Fuel consumption is for a Seventies car of such immodest in the region of 18-23mpg under use but 25-30mpg is easily achievable. The models. naturally, tend to be the at the less thirsty ends of ranges.

Don t worry about the of resin remarked on in some tests. The bodies have cured now and there s no trace of any odour. With the new body of visibility, headroom and other flaws were substantially with.

It was a successful reworking of the Esprit, recognised as one of the greatest driving machines. I it again. It s

Lotus racing cars had been mid-engined when the appeared as the first such road car in 1966. The idea was to an exciting level of technology to at well below supercar The basic design of the Esprit, a steel backbone chassis and mid-engined layout, may have broadly similar but the overall was quite different.

Aiming for the big the Esprit was therefore 13ft 9in and 6ft 1in wide, making it 7in longer and no than 9in wider than the Furthermore, the exotic Esprit was by the rising Italian star,

The Esprit s chassis differed the Europa s in that the backbone behind the seats. In place of fork extensions to carry the the Esprit chassis was joined to a structure at the rear. The rear with fabricated radius single lower links and driveshafts, was partly mounted on the It was low in weight but it transmitted noise and to the interior.

Spherical joints were in the rear suspension in the first few but that proved unsatisfactory: more suitable for road use adopted and all the cars were converted. Double wishbones used at the front, which was on Opel Ascona parts.

rendering of the Lotus Esprit


supplies of the so-called transaxie drive from the SM were from Citroen; a good as Lotus could not have to develop its own transmission. Crafty enabled the inboard rear to be fitted, too; the discs solid all round, with no at first, though that was before long.

Lotus its own engines at last, moving and away from the old kit car image. The was always intended to be offered a choice of in-line four and V8 For financial reasons, the V8 Lotus did not materialise until this By the time the Esprit arrived, the four-cylinder, double-overhead-camshaft, aluminium was well proven in earlier

As first installed in the Esprit in form, it ran on twin Dell carburettors and produced 160bhp at with maximum torque of ft at 4,900rpm. Although this to the efficient little motor an impressive 81bhp/litre, it could be expected to be enough to enable the to stand alongside the Ferraris, de Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Porsches it had been intended to challenge.

Rudd, Lotus s engineering at the time and one of those charged turning the Esprit from dream into practical recalls running a prototype V8 on long-term test in the Seventies: litres and over 300bhp lifted the car but it tended to demolish gear or break the diff. Lucas demanded payment for injection development we tried but suffered fuel surge in Lotus just didn t the money to finish the job: reluctance it had to drop it in 1979 and an alternative path to true performance. By then the car had been in for three years.

Cut Away of the Esprit S1

Esprit bodies made in two halves, joined at the but further problems in 1976 had that the early ones not be made by the celebrated vacuum system and were laid up by When the factory was able to go to VARI, the Esprit put on unexpected and, Tony Rudd There was a bit of a lull while was sorted out.

The first big came with the S2, announced in 1978. The main features wider wheels, a bigger with improved airflow that took some to reach production) and ducts the rear windows (nearside fed the and demisted the rear window; cooled the engine bay).

An enlargement to 2.2 litres, announced in May increased the peak torque to ft at 5,000rpm and gave a useful improvement. Also announced in after the forced abandonment of the V8, the brought real performance at This engine had been successfully and more cheaply in with the ill-fated V8: the Garrett drove through smaller Dell Ortos and the fully engine produced 210bhp.

Early Turbo engines had lubrication.

The rest of the car was substantially too, and the normally-aspirated Esprit S3 of shared the main benefits of There were changes to the but the most important developments under the skin: a galvanised with a wider front box and suspension mounting points; new mountings to reduce vibration; Lotus parts to replace the elements in the front suspension; rear suspension with wishbones and a new upper link. for the V8, the production Turbo was, over-engineered by Lotus standards. rigidity was well up, vibration was and there was a claimed, and much 50% reduction in noise inside the

Relieving the driveshaft of having to as the upper rear suspension gave an additional reduction in harshness.

Lotus Turbo

These changes, lavish new and luxuries such as electric all cost money, so that, at the Turbo Esprit was actually expensive than the rival 308GTB, Porsche 911 SC Sport and the but it was also, at last, the quickest them.

Maximum power up to 215bhp in 1986 when the Compression turbo engine was but the increase in torque at lower rpm was Development went on without through the good times and the

Giugiaro s classic styling was in October 1987 by a completely more rounded Esprit brilliantly styled in-house by Stevens. In 1989 charge and electronically controlled fuel boosted power to 264bhp in the quick Turbo SE. That s all stuff; but it s worth stating the current Esprits are by far the best: vibration and harshness have transformed, while drivers of any size can feel comfortable.

The is now Renault, and modern electronics and systems abound.

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The Esprit has a true supercar for many a year and the arrival of the exciting new V8 the original design intention at in a vastly more sophisticated than originally envisaged. The of the early cars endures, from the 2.2 onwards, and they the supercar bargains of the century in the market.

OWNING RESTORING

who do not own Lotuses say they are unreliable but the of the Esprits shown here all they have had no trouble. does this mean? there s no doubting that ago Lotus frequently put cars production before they fully developed, making customers effectively unpaid drivers.

The firm needed the flow to avoid bankruptcy.

The graces were always Lotus cars were to look at, uniquely rewarding to and conceived with a fundamentally engineering philosophy. Chapman was extraordinarily forward-minded and energetic. He fast, lived fast, great attention to vital and hated to waste time on irrelevant.

He designed all his cars for like himself.

If you are the kind of who forgets when your car s is due, or deliberately ignores it in the that everything will be all or can t be bothered to let a turbocharger cool before switching off, you get a Mercedes or a Morris Minor. Don t buy a it s not for you. When the book you should change this at 5,000 miles and that at 10,000, it means it. The poor, Mercedes or Morris might on despite much abuse but the will not.

Stick rigidly to the service though, and you should find your Esprit is as reliable as featured here: that s the owners say, anyway.

Esprit owners prefer to on professionals to service their but there are exceptions. Graham enjoys doing his own engine and is very good at it, too, if his Esprit Turbo is anything to go by. home mechanics, accustomed to engines, would not take to wreck a Lotus: excessive settings when working on castings result in stripped all round.

Turbo brought performance at last in 1980, V8 project abandoned; 210bhp 0-60 figure of 5.6sec and 152mph

There are things to out for. Some Esprits can fire if the carburettors are worn allowing fuel to drip on to the with the inevitable result. everything when it is due; not one later. If you need to replace a it is a long, tricky job, tackled by a Lotus specialist. interior trim has to come out and will almost certainly do damage.

This tip came Barry Ely, for 12 years the of the Commemorative S2 seen here what, it s for sale and he s a Lotus in Leyton, East London. To be he points out that screen is not profitable he just hates to see lashed up by bad workmanship and is happy to free advice to owners Barry Ely Sports Cars on 558 3221).

Galvanised chassis introduced with the S3 and the original so far all seem to remain as rust-free as the GRP Some of the brighter exterior have faded but the mouldings to be of excellent quality and extremely The bodies of the cars we photographed no signs of crazing or cracking.

factory parts back-up restoration is fairly easy. an Esprit will be more to rebuild than the average but it s a bargain by supercar standards: the engines are a lot cheaper than the power units of exotic

By the way, don t fit silly wheels and or spacers. Lotus took to optimise its original specifications and nonsense won t improve anything.

owners belong to several clubs, gaining invaluable advice and contacts from the knowledgeable enthusiasts: there are days to be enjoyed, too. One of the this year should be GP Circuit (August 23, Lotus Club). The cars shown were located for us by Club organiser of many events the year.

BUYING AN ESPRIT

For the reasons given elsewhere in article, it is worth going for a car: Lotus really was to survive in 1975-1976 and the relatively S1s were, as a result, not that built. Oddly enough, the hardly seems to recognise a good S1 might fetch or more while an early S3 in condition might be worth A younger S3 HC in superb order go for twice that much, Good early Turbos from about £10,000.

knows that service should be checked on any used With an Esprit you need to every detail, so don t rely on the of a fat file of full service documents. I d read every carefully. Where has it been? went wrong?

Was everything really done on Has it been to any of the many respectable specialists recently? If so, ring up and ask what they know the car.

S1s and S2s may need driveshaft and suspension work. An Esprit sits low probably needs new and dampers. Look for cracked and exhaust manifolds. Check the on all Esprits (and renew it if you buy the car failure if it snaps might do of damage).

Listen for transmission as gearbox rebuilds are not cheap. the radiators on early Turbos, as partial clogging can cause a piston at sustained speed.

If you can yourself on all these points, is no doubt in my mind that it be worth paying a little the guideline prices. An early Turbo is the bargain supercar par in the classic-car market. One of its great when new was the Ferrari 308GTB: see if you can get a one of those for 10 grand now.

the contemporary Porsche 91 ISC Sport close in value for money some distinctly inferior rivals mysteriously fetch twice as much as the Lotus and the more valuable but magnificently Porsche.

Buying a used of any of these cars is a risk. first service may cost so never buy on impulse. An enthusiast I snapped up an apparent bargain, an Turbo that had suffered a engine-bay fire. In repairing it steadily dawned on him that his car had neglected for years and butchered by cowboy mechanics.

By the time he had putting it all right, it looked and went very well but he was and wiser, and his enthusiasm was gone he back to Jaguars.

Look the car to see whether it appears to have loving care. If it s a dirty with even the odd stripped on the engine, be very suspicious. If you can t a perfect example of the Esprit you are a not-so-good one (a restoration case, should be easy enough to at £3,000-£4,000.

Do try to be realistic about it will cost to get it back the sort of state that stop poor Cohn from spinning in his grave.

Don t to check for accident damage you close a deal. Evidence of a is easy to spot. If you find any get a professional inspection.

Cor, at that motor! Esprit was a car to be in; this

one s pictured with One DI, Mike Read.

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