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    1985 Turbo Esprit
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  1. Which paint did you use for the bumpers? They look great!
  2. Part 4: And so the tear down began. TJ had the engine out and disassembled in about a week. All in all, what we found could have been much worse. The engine was filthy. There was oil and crud everywhere on the outside and grim on the inside too. In some places it looked like a previous owner had gotten too happy with the sealant on a previous rebuild or reseal, and sealant had migrated into the engine. Not good. But all this got cleaned up. No big deal. The turbine shaft was very loose in the turbo, and the fins on the compressor wheel had been ground down and were half gone. It looked like something had gotten stuck in there and just eaten them away. Perhaps it could have been caused by dirt from a loose air filter? I’m not sure, but it clearly needed fixing. We sent the turbo off to get a full rebuild with a billet compressor wheel. It should be back in a few weeks and better than new. The carbs are also getting sent off for a rebuild. More on that later… The flywheel had heat spots on it and looked like it was getting toward the end of its life. I ordered a new steel flywheel from Garry Kemp. It looks pretty and hopefully will perform just as well. The clutch was nearing the end of its life too, so we sourced a new one from SJS. Inside the cylinders, the piston skirts were visibly worn and the liners were out of round, likely causing the compression issues. We were going to replace the liners anyway, and ordered some forged pistons from JAE. I figured while we were down there we might as well replace the connecting rods too, and added a set of Garry Kemp’s lightweight rods to the flywheel order. Other than that, there were basically no surprises. Lots of dirt, poor sealing by a previous owner, and the kind of wear and tear you’d expect from a 122k engine that had been serviced with an inconsistent level of care over the last 33 years. We sourced all the rest of the parts for the rebuild from JAE and SJS. Once they all get here, the rebuild can begin. One of the issues I'm trying to get right is what else, if anything, to fix while the engine is out. Obviously there are so many things that are so much easier and cheaper to do with the engine out, but I don't have an unlimited budget to just replace parts for fun. The transmission is in good shape. The cooling system will be gone through. The gas tanks will be checked. Happy to hear anyone's thoughts on other things we should be looking at.
  3. Enjoy it while you can. I was thinking of leaving them off when the engine goes back together. I don't have any emissions requirements, and my understanding is they don't serve any other function. Yep. We're going to put all the choke linkage back in place, but who knows if I'll need it. You're making me skip ahead in the story! The airbox was not sealed at all, or even closed properly. Lord knows how long it had been like that. But there was definitely piston wear, as well as a ruined compressor wheel, which may be related.
  4. Yep. This is first on my to do list once the engine gets back in the car.
  5. Part 3: With the Esprit safely tucked away in the garage, it was time to come up with a plan of action. I figured I’d start by replacing the tires. While there was plenty of tread left on the current set, they were over ten years ago, and the rears were 225s instead of the factory-recommended 235s. Even though they get a bad rap from other Esprit owners, I went with BFGoodrich Radial T/A’s, for the sole reason that they were the only complete set of tires I could find in the correct sizes. Yes, I could have mixed and matched, or gone with 225s in the back and had more options, but I didn’t. And changing out the original BBS wheels was a non-starter. Plus, I can’t say I don’t like the white lettering. Maybe I’ll try something different next time, but from the very short time I’ve spent with them so far, I don’t have any complaints. Pro tip: 235s look better on the back than 225s. Next, I gave the interior and leather a good cleaning and conditioning. This was one of the positive surprises of the car. On BaT the seller noted that the interior was “sun-faded with cracks and tears in the dash and other surfaces.” This was a bit pessimistic. While the dash does need a little repair, and one of the pieces of A-pillar trim needs restoring, the interior as a whole looked great, and positively fantastic for a car with 122k miles on the clock. Even the carpet, which looked faded and almost purple in some of the photos, looks great in person and has a significant amount of life left in it. The seller also stated that the aftermarket stereo was inoperable, but I got it working in about 30 seconds, albeit with only the left channel functioning. After the new tires and a bit of clean up, I figured I’d see if a little drive time might help the stalling engine. I threw in a few gallons of fresh gas, and found some easy roads and early traffic-free mornings to see if I could clear any cobwebs out of the engine, but it never felt right. The engine kept stalling at idle at least 50% of the time, the turbo boost never got above a few PSI, and it was obvious that the motor needed some serious help. Whatever work I was going to do on this car myself, I wanted to start by having it professionally evaluated, so off we went to Carlock Motorcars in Brentwood, TN. As if by divine decree, Carlock had hired a highly sought after Lotus master technician with experience rebuilding Esprit motors just a week after a bought my car. I could hardly believe my luck. TJ got to work, and what he found was not great. There were oil leaks everywhere. The cam towers and covers, cam seals, oil filter housing and front main seal, to name a few. The choke cable had been disconnected, but the choke was being held open by a twisted paper clip. The plugs were black and the plug holes and oil were covered in oil. Adjusting the mixture on the carbs helped a little, but the engine was still popping, light on power, and dying at idle. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a compression test revealed low compression on every cylinder, between 84-97 psi. Not good. The only option was a rebuild. I thought about it for a little bit. To be honest, silver is not my favorite color for an Esprit; I prefer red or black. And I’d really wanted one with a detachable roof panel. Was I going to regret investing thousands more on a car that wasn’t going to be exactly what I wanted? In the end, I bit the bullet. She was my responsibility now. We would rebuild, and we would do it well.
  6. Part 2: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” July 3, 2018 … One day before the American celebration of colonial aggression … George texted me at 9:09am … he had arrived! Not at my house, mind you. While I had been planning to have the Esprit delivered straight to my garage at home, George, the guy I hired to transport the Esprit halfway across the country, wanted to keep his car carrier close to the Interstate. So I left my office and we met at a truck stop on the banks of the Cumberland River just East of downtown Nashville. And there she was. Glistening in the Southern summer sun. After paying the previous owner for the car, George and his partner had taken just three days to drive the 2,300 miles from San Francisco to Nashville. I wondered to myself how many people had passed George’s car carrier on the Interstate and pointed, “Look, Mum, a Lotus!” Or more likely, “Look, Mom, a Delorean!” Giving credit where credit is due, the Esprit was not the most difficult car to get off the top of carrier. That honor goes to the CL500 AMG sitting beyond it, which at less than ten years was in much worse shape than the Esprit. In addition to an alarming number of scrapes and bruises, the battery was dead, and because there was no obvious key hole, or physical key for that matter, it took George ten minutes just to get the car open, then another five minutes to hook up a battery pack and get it out of the way. No such problems with the Esprit, as the starter engaged enthusiastically and for quite some time until the engine finally got going and the car rolled off the carrier. Before I get to the bad news, some good news. I am 6’3”, and weigh somewhere in the range of, let’s call it, 10% of an unladen Esprit. Having never sat in a Turbo before, I wasn’t certain I would even fit. While this possibility would have perhaps been good for my pocketbook and marriage, it would have been devastating to my dreams. Did Colin Chapman love me this little? George turned off the motor, got out of the car, and handed me the key. Slowly I walked over, sat in the driver’s seat with my legs out the door, and carefully folded them into the footwell. I fit!!! Just. But I fit!! Victory was mine!! I proudly turned the key in the ignition, ready for my triumphant first drive. The starter engaged. The engine turned over, and over, and over, and over, and over. It wouldn’t start. Not knowing what to do, I reverted to more base instincts and did what my dad always used to do when his 1973 Super Bettle wouldn’t start – mash the accelerator into the floorboard and hope for the best. Remarkably this worked, and the engine roared to life again, only to die a few seconds later. After a few more minutes of this, we reached a sort of détente. I agreed to keep the engine above 2,000 rpm’s, and the Esprit agreed that it might stay running long enough for me to drive the two miles back to my house. Thankfully there are no hills, as I had discovered that the handbrake was disconnected. And thankfully it wasn’t raining, because I had also discovered that the wipers wouldn’t turn on. And thankfully it wasn’t nighttime either, because the passenger headlight wouldn’t stop going up and down when you turned on the lights. Eventually, we made it home. She was mine!
  7. I figured I’d start a thread detailing the rejuvenation of my 1985 Turbo Esprit: As I write this, the engine is in hundreds of pieces, but I’ll start at the beginning. I have always wanted a Turbo Esprit. Growing up in England, the Esprit was a homegrown supercar, and nothing came close. Sure Ferraris and Lamborghinis were awesome, but they seemed unattainable. The Esprit was always different, and as time would have it, now available for less than the price of a new Camry. Crazy! On June 19 2018, I won a BaT auction for this Esprit. As an aside, this is the third time this Esprit has been on BaT. The first time was in 2008: And the second time was in 2015 - same photo angle, different listing! While the listing disclosed some obvious problems, most noticeably the carb issue / failure to pass CA inspection, there was lots to like too. The car was basically complete, the exterior and interior were serviceable to say the least, and it ran. As a bonus, I have several friends in San Francisco who were able to go and see the car in person, confirm its condition and that it was theoretically capable of starting after a while, and give a positive view of the seller’s bona fides. Will It Start?.MOV I went in hard early in the auction hoping to scare people away, convinced I wasn’t going to go above my initial $13k bid. But I couldn’t resist a little action at the end and wound up getting it for $14.7k. It was a hope for the best, prepare for the worst, transaction. I figured that maybe a carb rebuild might be all it needed. A prior owner had gutted the cat, and I figured that maybe they had screwed up the carbs trying to get the car to pass CA emissions without a cat. Since I don’t live in California and don’t have to get the emissions tested, I thought maybe I could have the carbs rebuilt and be good to go for a little fun. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Did the carbs need rebuilding? Oh, yes. But there was much more!! Stay tuned…
  8. Does anyone have the actual paint code for the black bumpers? I’m not sure Satin Black is enough to go on but maybe I’m wrong?
  9. Thanks for the responses everybody. I'll try the extra fine sandpaper on a small piece just to be sure and report back. Maybe I could just cover the whole rear hatch in faux carbon fiber film and call it a day .... kidding ...
  10. I'm not sure to be honest. The damage predated my ownership. There is some more of the same at the top of the panel too (see below), but none on the rest of the car. Maybe caused by being driven 120k miles in the bright California sun? I think the paint is original, and I was hoping to keep it that way. Part of me just wants to polish and wax over it and forget about it. But if the clear coat is really gone on that panel, I'm guessing it's only going to get worse.
  11. I feel like the answer here is probably “no,” but thought I’d see if I was missing something. Is there anyway to correct this paint adhesion issue without a full respray? It looks like the paint is just gone in spots here, but the rest of the car looks great. I’d hare to repaint the whole thing just to deal with this. Figured someone might have a genius idea?
  12. Thanks! Maybe so. Just seems like an odd design. Not sure why the arm on the rod on the left side that goes to the latch is longer than the arm on the other side that goes to the handle either. I think the zip ties will work, although it's not exactly elegant. But don't get me started on the liners I found in there. Someone had replaced them with cut up garbage bags secured with duct tape!! Would like to find a better solution there too.
  13. Well, I added two zip ties as shown the photo in the hopes that they will keep it together. No idea right now if this is a long-term solution as the car is in the middle of an engine rebuild and off the road. I still don't understand if there was a part missing or why this was happening. The linkage on the other door looks identical, but the rod wasn't slipping out. Strange.
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