Thanks everyone for their input and assistance - much appreciated. I have been wanting a Lotus for some considerable time....but I have zero knowledge of these vehicles. My first objective was to clarify which model I wanted (I am outside UK, hence I would need to export from UK and import to my country - which itself entails risk).
I like the S4...but I like the S4S much more (performance reasons only). I'm also very much an admirer of both the GT3 and the V8TT models. However, each have their own import and engineering criteria at my end....and the S4 and S4S are without doubt the less complex path rather than the later GT3 and V8 models.
My challenge is this - I wish to import an S4S under a specific rule called the 25-year rule (many of you may know of this). It requires that the vehicle be 25 years old - by year AND month - from the time of its manufacture to the time I apply to import it.
It seems the S4S commenced manufacture (build) in 1994 (at least if I trust good old Wikipedia) - as follows - "The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4 Sport (S4s)."
My challenge is confirming build dates, because Lotus does not seem to have a rigorous method for allowing build date to be determined (some manufacturers have this on the build plate). I appreciate that the 10th character of the S4S VIN sequence gives some indication, but I am as yet unable to get confirmation as to whether this 10th character means 'calendar year of build'.....or the 'model year' - because model years are not the same as calendar years.
From what I have seen, most owners who quote a VIN with an 'R' refer to their cars as being 1994 models, and always Esprit S4...never S4S from what I have seen. Most S4S that I see have an 'S' at the VIN 10th position, which either suggests '1995 calendar year'....or 'Model Year 1995'. But these owners call their cars 1995 models (I'm yet to see anyone with a 'T' 1996 model S4S interestingly).
Does anyone know the S4 VIN attributes better than I can get my head around?
And - if my objective is to buy an earlier S4S - then obviously I want something with a lower serial number (last 3 digits) - hence 001 is far better than 999. BUt as I cannot determine how many S4S were built in 1994, 1995, 1996 - I don't know if they were making 10 a month, or 50, or 80...etc. If they made 50 a month, and I saw (by way of example) SCC082910SHA64051 - that would tell me it was likely made in the second month....whether that be build month or MY month.
As it stands, I have commenced enquiries with the owners of 3 S4S cars....and i intend to not walk away empty handed!
Thanks to Peter - I have read up on Atlas Autos, so I will proceed with caution (but will likely proceed at least - I do like the colour).