Paul asked me what stereo was in an S1 Esprits, I remembered some sharp one, but I didn’t really know why I thought that, so I sent Jake on a research mission. He went off looking at the Lotus Esprit build sheets we have on microfilm and then also looking at the Lotus service letters we got when I brought out dealerships. Jake came up pretty blank and suggested we called my friend Andy at the Lotus Archives, Andy said as we had surmised almost no S1 had a factory fitted stereo maybe only in factory demonstrators. We discussed that would have been with a Philips turnolock as they had loads left over from the Elan and Europa days and Philips lie ins would have still been in place, but they would have been very old fashioned for 1976. He suggested tracing what Lotus aftersales would have advised the dealership to fit. Jake next visited my friend now in his late 70s who owned my local lotus dealership in the 1970s, He came back with two sharp[MI1] radios (RG-5800x RG-2800p) under his arm (and a head full of stories). Next I sent Jake in the roof to get down the box of car radios I have, it’s got all the radios I have taken out of the cars I have owned or restored. I’ve owned over 20 s1 and s2 Esprits so I knew I had a few.
Other than my first car a Mini, I’ve only ever had Lotus cars so they could have only come out of a dealership I brought out, or a Lotus I brought. This is what I had (Picture one)
Next Jake looked at all the pictures we had taken over the years of S1 and S2 esprits, I’ve amassed a large database, and so many still had the sharp. What’s sad to me is the original sharp that came in my 1st S1 that the mice had eaten the buttons off I gave it away (can’t remember who to) as its not in my stereo box. (Picture two)
Last week I set about testing and repairing the radios I have and they all seem to have had the drive belt disintegrated with age I ordered and fitted some 59mmx1.5mm SS drive belts from ebay (£2.75) and they all worked very well. I brought a little box off amazon that the radio tunes into and pairs with your phone so you can play a tape, the radio or sound from your phone via bluetooth and that worked really well and I’m impressed what a great sound the little sharps have. Anyway to sum up, Jakes research has taught me that almost all radios seemed to have been fitted at dealers. Lotus after sales recommended the Sharp but any radio could have been favoured buy the dealer or the 1st owner.
S1 and early S2 build sheets have no provision for even if a radio was fitted so if it wasn’t in the comments box there is no record and there was little feedback from the dealers to what they fitted and mostly even what reg the car got issued from DVLA.
The Sharp radios were very popular back in the day so now they are cheap as chips, readily available the tape is the correct way round to get it in with the gear stick position and they sound very good.
The models I seem to have ended up with are the RG-5800x RG-2800p (just tape) and the RG-5800e they are all dated 1975 or 1976
I have no interest or knowledge on what was in anything after Esprit S2 (1979) but it seems Toshiba Panasonic and Blaupunkt ratios became common.
Speaking to as many 1st owners as I could, they all seemed to have the same opinion. Back in the day Car Radio was a very big thing and anything that went loud was cool, especially if it be heard over the sound of the engine a full chat….. 😊
Hope this helps somebody
Matt and Jake