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Tony K

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Tony K last won the day on March 18

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About Tony K

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  • Birthday 11/11/1973

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  • Name
    Tony K
  • Car
    Esprit S1, Esprit S2.2, Esprit SE
  • Location
    Toledo, Ohio USA

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  1. May as well write this down. Who knows, maybe my children will be curious about their dad some day and want to read it . . . As a young child, about four years old in the late 1970s, I was with my family at my aunt and uncle's house for a holiday (pretty sure it was Thanksgiving). While waiting for dinner, I was sitting in the living room watching the color TV. At this point in my life, I was already a car nut. Loved cars. There on the TV was a white car. In beautiful scenery. I loved how it looked. It looked faster than all the other cars. I really liked the shape. I was mesmerized by this car. It was perfect. I didn't quite understand when the car went into the water . . . really, to a young child it was kind of confusing. I liked it better with wheels . . . was hoping to see more of the car after that, but there was only a little bit. Then it was time for dinner. Never forgot that car. Later that year for Christmas, my brother and I received a slot car set as a gift. It had a yellow car and a white car. The white car looked exactly like this: This photo is from eBay (not my actual car), but I still have the original actual car. As I grew up, I saw Lotus Esprits here and there on television. Rockford Files. Knight Rider. Miami Vice . . . Then in video games, like Test Drive and Rad Racer: (That's an Esprit on the left. Unfortunate that in playing the game you had to drive a 328...) By the late 1980s, I was reading car magazines like Car & Driver and Road & Track. Couldn't wait to read reviews that included the Lotus Esprit. When I was a freshman in high school, in our Public Speaking class, I managed to include the slot car as a visual aid in a speech, in saying that I hope to have a *real* Lotus some day, not just a toy one. Total car nut. As I read the car magazines in high school, I became fascinated with the technical aspect of the Esprit, and with the ethos of the car. In the 1980s and ealry '90s, it was a very advanced car -- 16 valves, DOHC, turbo charger, later a chargecooler, aerodynamic, and the body was made from some kind of a composite, not just boring old-fashioned steel. And of course it handled better than anything. And it made all that power and speed from just a 2.2 liter four -- that was impressive technology compared to the others who needed six, eight, ten, or twelve cylinders to go fast. It was cool. And the nature of the car as I understood it was a good fit for my personality; if I were to express my automotive values in a car, it would be the Esprit. I dreamed of some day owning a Lotus Esprit. Not long after getting my driver's license, I bought the "poor man's Esprit." "This is the closest I'm ever going to get to a Lotus," I thought: I had also been fixing things my whole life -- clocks as a small child, motorized toys a few years later, radio controlled cars, mini bikes, and then at age 15 I started learning to fix cars. I had owned about ten cars before even finishing high school. While I was in college, in the 1990s, the whole world changed. Pretty things, happy music, electric guitars and synthesizers, beautiful people, bright colors, and cool cars were out . . . and a general disdain for beauty, miserable "grunge" music, "unplugged" coffee shop culture, and olive drab were in. Affluent kids at colleges across the country went to Salvation Army and Goodwill stores and bought old clothes to try and look like they lived in hard times. And most of all, cars were very, very uncool. Especially sports cars. Especially exotic cars. If you liked or owned an "impractical" exotic/sports car, it meant you were a simple minded, insecure, egotistical jerk who was "compensating" for his three-inch thingy. Pop culture had taken a complete 180-degree turn from the halcyon days of Miami Vice and Cannonball Run. I never cared too much what other people were into, though. I still wanted a Lotus Esprit, and still liked my cars. I probably owned another dozen or so cars through my four years in college. All of them were uncool -- mostly sports cars. Did not care. I was browsing a news stand at a big box store one night in college, looking at one of the magazines where they sold exotic cars (Robb Report or DuPont Registry), hoping to see a Lotus Esprit. Found a few. Strange, though, I thought -- there must be some mistake on the price; they cost no more than a new Lexus or Infiniti. On subsequent trips to the news stand, I began to realize that those were the actual prices. The Esprit SE that was $100K when I was in high school had fallen to $24K-$35K. At this point in my life, I had already been involved in a few car clubs. When I started to ask car people I knew about the affordability of a Lotus or other exotic car, the line I most often received was "It's one thing to buy them . . . but servicing them is where it gets expensive..." I thought to myself . . . "People who do well in college and get good jobs can afford new cars like Lexus and Infinity . . . . so if I do well in college, I should be able to get a good job and afford that kind of car . . . and I've been fixing things my whole life and taught myself to fix 'regular' cars; I don't see why I can't teach myself to fix a Lotus . . ." So I decided that the dream of owning an Esprit was a lot more within reach than I had thought. All I had to do was work hard and get a good job . . . So to motivate myself to study and do well, I bought one of these, painted it white, and put it on my desk: I also bought books and buyers guides about Lotus and Esprits, and read them cover to cover multiple times. Still have all of them. When I finished college, I got an entry level operations job at an investment firm. I started saving for my dream car, a Lotus Esprit. I invested and saved, and also bought more broken "regular" cars and fixed them and sold them. Like these, for example: As an intermediate step on my learning curve of teaching myself to fix cars, I bought a Porsche 944 in mediocre condition and needing a clutch to learn from and use as a daily driver: That was the first of about ten 944s I owned, racking up over 350K miles driving them daily, and servicing dozens of them for others. Then, after about a year at my job, I sold 2 or 3 Fieros, added some cash I had saved, and bought my first Lotus: In the months leading up to it, I couldn't decide between a Turbo Esprit or an S1/S2. Every buyers guide at the time (late 1990s) told you to avoid the S1 at all costs, and that you should only buy something S3 or newer. Buying a notoriously unreliable, rare exotic car that everyone says to avoid, at the age of 23 on an entry level salary -- what could go wrong? On the other hand, I thought it would make a good first Esprit, as it was simpler and might be less expensive if I did have a catastrophe. And while not fast like a Turbo, it did fulfill the imaginations of my young childhood, of that magical white car that I saw on the television so many years ago. Indeed I had every catastrophe that S1s were known for. But by this time I had been fixing cars for 7 or 8 years, I received some good guidance from a few club members, and I understood that with something like this you have to be careful, not heavy handed, and most of all READ AND FOLLOW EVERY WORD IN THE WORKSHOP MANUAL. So I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed every moment of servicing, fixing, improving, washing, waxing, and most of all driving my Esprit S1. That was twelve Esprits ago, twenty years ago, sixty-five thousand miles ago, many journeys and adventures ago, and most of all it has been through many great times with the many great people I have come to know and call my friends along the way. Cheers, Tony K.
  2. Probably ok. Never pulled on that span specifically, but I do recall the tensioner being touchy like that when static. I am always careful when taking the tension reading that the engine's last movement was completely clockwise (that it didn't get bumped backwards even the slightest as to reduce the tension). What I would make sure of: As long as the tensioner has two springs inside the piston and the piston moves freely in any and all instances, I think you are fine. With the tensioner looking like that, I would disassemble the whole thing, clean it, new grease, and replace the neoprene washers, and maybe the bearing depending on age and condition. If the pivot does not move smoothly or if there is excessive play (rare), consider replacing the bushes. When the tensioner is apart, rotate the piston within the cylinder, and rotate it while moving it in and out, to see if it binds at any point. I don't see anything in the Workshop Manual about a ground strap on the tensioner, but many of the early cars I had and worked on had one or some remnant of one. So I always make a new one when I service the tensioner. A simple curved wire from the 10mm bolt to any bolt on the body of the tensioner, using eyelet connectors. Hope this helps!
  3. I may be mistaken, but I believe this S1 is a late RoW factory red leather car. I think it has been on this forum before and the owner might be around to verify.
  4. Roy, in answer to your question about the original fabrics, for the brown marcasite velvet, the best thing we have found is "crypton suede" fabric in the color Chocolate, sold at, of all places, JoAnn Fabrics. For the beige, I believe Jon Roberts on this forum has found something that is very close to the original. If opting for leather, there is a Mercedes color that is a dead ringer for the original Lotus beige, but I don't know the name of it. For carpets, Federal S1s came with both a normal cut pile type and a deep "shag" style. A faithful representation of the cut pile can be found at World Upholstery either among the Jaguar PLP carpet or the Wilton Wool, although not an exact color match. For the shag, there is an inexpensive style U.S. made bathroom rug that gets passed around from big box store to big box store that is almost a dead ringer -- it looks the same, just the pile is deeper. It was first at Walmart, then years later at Target, but I haven't seen the exact thing in the past year or two. If it turns up again, I will buy a bunch. Maybe the folks in the UK have a better source for the shag carpet -- perhaps someone on the forum can chime in. For the heel pad on the carpets, the narrow rib rubber matting sold by World Upholstery is a dead ringer for the original stuff. For binding, I am not aware of anyone in the U.S. who offers the exact grain pattern that Esprits have; I have always used U.S. sourced binding, but would really like to know what is available in the UK, because the exact stuff might still be around. For boot carpet on an S1, the closest thing to original that you will find is "squareweave" wool carpet for old German cars at World Upholstery. Color "black" , 1009. A lot of people think the boot carpet is solid black, but that's because theirs is old and dirty. The original is a wool blend with the telltale white hairs among the black. The carpet sold at World Upholstery is a little better quality than the original and the rows/loops are neater, but it is by leaps and bounds the closest thing to original you will find. If you want to restore your S1 interior to the closest thing possible today as to what it was new, 90% of the selection work is done for you in these paragraphs. Cheers, Tony K.
  5. Leather trim was available from the factory on late S1s. Earliest I have seen was fall of 1977 build. Available colors were beige, red, and black. Beige seats, pleated inserts and rear bulkhead panel were paired with brown marcasite velvet dashboard, door panels and console. Black leather was paired with black marcasite, and red leather was paired with black marcasite. What was *not* available until later was full leather, i.e. leather on the parts that were covered with marcasite, such as the dashboard. In other words, the late S1s with leather were similar in material usage to the early S2s with leather. One detail I have noted -- on a leather interior S1 that I had, the entire seats (front, back, and sides) were leather, as was the bulkhead panel. On a 1978 S2 leather/marcasite car that I did some interior work on, the sides and backs of the seats were vinyl that looked identical to the leather; I think the bulkhead was, too -- can't remember 100% -- but there should be enough leather-and-marcasite S2s left in existence to determine what was the norm. In any case, leather on an S1 was on late cars only, and was/is rare.
  6. For what it's worth, I have been told on a few occasions over the years that a few (late?) Federal S2s were sold with them, but have always presumed that if so, they were dealer added (just like fog lights and sunroofs . . .).
  7. The Andretti signed steering wheels were fitted as factory equipment to the World Champion S2s, however those wheels were also sold to the general public:
  8. Yes, I was inspired to post this from a pic recently shared on Facebook:
  9. Hi everyone, In the next several weeks, many of us will be waking our Esprits up from their winter hibernation. If yours is carbureted, especially those of us with non-Turbo cars, after you do your visual check of fluids and belts, do the following: 1) Check tightness of fuel hose clamps 2) Check tightness of banjo fittings 3) Check tightness of screws on underside of carburetor -- four for bottom cover and four for accelerator pump diaphragm of each carb. If you don't have a short stubby screwdriver, buy one -- it's cheap insurance. Doesn't hurt to check the top cover while you have screwdriver in hand. 4) Inspect flexible rubber fuel hoses for cracking or hardening. If they are more than ten years old or you don't know their age, replace them as a matter of course regardless of how they look and feel. If you have braided steel hoses, replace them with rubber; the steel serves no purpose on a low pressure application, and only prevents you from seeing the condition of the rubber underneath. 5) Put the key in the ignition and turn to "run" position but DON'T START IT. Let the fuel pump fill the float bowls, and keep it turned on. 6) Get out of the car and inspect for leaks/dampness. Smell for fuel. Use a small mirror to see where you can't see. 7) Use a paper towel to pat the underside of the carburetors to test for leaks. Also by the carb-to-intake O-rings. Easy to see the wet spots on the towel. Pull the throttle cable to manipulate the accelerator pumps a couple of times, and pat the underside again. 8 ) If your stock fuel pump is still making the tap-tap-tap-tap-tap noise, keep fuel is continuing to pour somewhere; find it. Start by removing the air cleaner. If not, step 9. 9) Of course you have a fire extinguisher handy, because you know that is essential with old cars. Start the car and watch. Let it run a minute or a few. 10) Turn off the car and repeat the visual inspection and patting with paper towels. Assuming the rest of your car is road ready, you are now ready to drive your carbureted Esprit. Keep an extinguisher in the car. After you run it up to operating temperature a couple of times, go back on a cool morning and re-check the tightness of the clamps and screws when the car is cold. Cheers, Tony K.
  10. Welcome, Rob! I may be able to help you with the S1. Please message me when you have the chance. Thanks for the kind words, Bibs!
  11. Hi @GTK, yes, I took it to a place that sells landscaping stone. You drive your vehicle onto the scale, receive a ticket, load your vehicle with stone, back onto the scale, and pay. I pulled up in the Esprit. Should have seen the look on their faces. The scale went in 20 lb. increments. I don't remember how much fuel I had at the time, maybe it says so in the original post.
  12. As for the early cars (approximately those with a gelcoat finish), my understanding at this point is that they were covered in a flocking, similar to a dashboard on a Merak, Uracco, Dino, etc. form that era. My first experience with this was with the owner of 200H, an original white on tartan car, back in the mid-1990s. The stuff was a dark gray with a hint of green, and apparently it didn't last long or rubbed off easily, leaving a smooth but matty and mottled dark gray surface. In addition to 200H, I have seen remnants of it up close on two other cars -- the unrestored yellow car that Scott Walker had about ten years ago, and Lyn Weschler's car (original owner in New York). When I visited the UK about 8 or 9 years ago, Scott and I had a discussion about this, clearly looking at dark grey-green fuzzy remnants in the corners of his dashboard and binnacle, and remarking that the Nextel was way too light, and too stiff. I might be wrong on this. I have not seen enough original examples to be confident. But I have recently reconnected with the owner of 200H, and could revisit the conversation and take a closer look at his car. Restorers of other exotic cars of the mid-'70s have reapplied that type of flocking to dashboards; I haven't looked into it, but I know that stuff is out there. One thing that I am pretty confident about at this point is that on a late spring 1977 S1 onward (perhaps cars with lacquer finish), it's just black marcasite. And I think that's a fair description of it. . . . and in the land of Crypton Suede, our only choice appears to be "Caviar". Is it full-on black, or a dark grey? I don't know. What I do know is that most people think "gunmetal" marcasite is just "black" and call it black, so in the grand scheme of things I don't think it's a big deal.
  13. From day one, I always believed the Nextel was too light, even for an early S1. It was explained to me how and why it was chosen, but it's even lighter than the grey in the photos of the prototype interior. Last year I had the opportunity to buy a white/tartan late '77 S1 project (I hesitated and I missed it). It was trashed from the Florida sun, but clearly had green fuzzy cloth on those areas. I had expected it to be covered in some sort of flocking. Recently, three original mid-to-late production S1s surfaced in great detail -- the ones owned by Aaron at ATS Exotics (351H), Michael W.'s (348H), and the one on Bring a Trailer (532H). The areas of these cars that have been exposed to sun are the familiar grey-ish green. The unfaded areas tell the tale: This really looks like black maracasite, which many have said is more like a charcoal and not a full black. Michael W's photo, from 348H, Lagoon Blue over Tartan, original steering column:
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