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advice on buying a Esprit turbo


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Hi all,

Just joined the forum. previously I have had a number of different Mini’s including a 1.6 Honda VTec which was a lot of fun. 3 years ago I sold the VTec and bought a  1987 Excel. I’m now thinking of buying Esprit. Had a look at a 1984 Esprit Tubro last week. The seller is looking for £18,000 but is has not run for about 3 years.

The seller has told me that the engine was perfect but I noticed oil around the turbo. There is also an oil leak on one cam housing. between the housing and the head, also the cluch is seized. Think is the peddle. Possiablerad leak.  Body work looks good except for quite a few stone chips. Has been resprayed in some places.

The roof lining needs to be replaced. Had to do the same in my Excel. The interior is red and appart from some ware on the drivers seat and the centre console lid is off it hinges it look good.

I have seen the car once and the owner has agreed to get the car running in the next couple of weeks.  I will then bring a mechanic with me to look at it again.

Can I ask you to help me and advice on what to look out for so I don’t make a big mistake. It’s a lot of money

 

Thanks to you all in advance.

Robin

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I’ve bought my fair share of Esprit shitters. Unless it’s cheap, and I mean cheap, you are gonna spend a whole heap of cash. think of say a big amount of money - then double it and add some more.

Robin How about an S3 Normally Aspirated Esprit? They are hugely underrated and offer much better value. Having restored a Turbo Esprit that had sat for 28 years I agree with Justin's though

I bought my first Esprit last year, it’s a Stevens carb turbo and I paid about £14k for it. It was a runner but didn’t run quite right and had loads of small faults as it had been off the road for 10

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Robin. Welcome aboard. 

In my experience, cars that have not run for some time will need a lot of dosh and TLC to get right. Unless you can do a lot of the work yourself, it is a highly risky route to go down.

My Excel came from Jersey and had done 37,000 miles in 25 years. It was a clean, running car with MOT and FSH when I bought it in 2012. In the first 2 years and 10,000 miles I spent £10K. All mechanical, nothing cosmetic. Cambelt, water pump, coil, fuel pump, battery, discs, wiper arm, alternator, steering pump, track rod ends, etc... etc...all expenditure that had to be made otherwise the car was off the road. I then spent more with LotusBits to make improvements but that was voluntary. 

The same with a Dolly Sprint I bought in 2008. 30,000 miles from new (1979). FSH, MOT and well cared for. The first 10,000 miles I spent £7K, again all mechanical and all required. Likewise a Mini 1275GT. FSH, 34,000 miles from new (1975) and a whole heap of cash in the first 2000 miles. Perhaps it is the way I drive...…….

It really does depend on your financial position. If you can afford to buy a well-cared for Esprit that is in regular use, that will almost certainly be a better bet. If you have to buy a less expensive car which has been little used, you must have the cash flow to tend to its needs. At £18K for a non-runner (or close to it), that sounds like a gamble to me. You may of course want to do all the work yourself and really enjoy the challenge but personally I would want to be in initially at a lower price point. 

Good luck!

Justin

 

 

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Robin

How about an S3 Normally Aspirated Esprit? They are hugely underrated and offer much better value.

Having restored a Turbo Esprit that had sat for 28 years I agree with Justin's thoughts on needing deep pockets, unless you can buy one for next to nothing like I did.   

 

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I’ve bought my fair share of Esprit shitters. Unless it’s cheap, and I mean cheap, you are gonna spend a whole heap of cash.

think of say a big amount of money - then double it and add some more. That’s what you’ll spend the first time round - then once you’ve done that - round 2 will commence.

buy the best you can - an enthusiast owned and looked after car - although may be many thousands more may well be much cheaper in  the long run.

either way though - an Esprit is like a nice dog - you can forgive anything when the tail wags

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Only here once

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I bought my first Esprit last year, it’s a Stevens carb turbo and I paid about £14k for it. It was a runner but didn’t run quite right and had loads of small faults as it had been off the road for 10 years. I like to work on my cars myself so was happy to take it on as a project but in hindsight buying a well sorted car for slightly more money would have probably been more sensible!

I haven’t added up what I’ve spent so far but I reckon it’s at least £2k-£3k on parts and another £500 on having the carbs rebuilt and set up (which was the only job I didn’t fancy doing)

That said it’s been great fun to own so far and a pleasure to drive and fix. No regrets!!

My advice - If you can do the work yourself it sounds like a great project, if not do yourself a favour and buy one that’s had everything done already :) The labour time I would have paid for at a garage would have been thousands and thousands of pounds by now had I not done my own spannering!

 

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1 hour ago, Bazza 907 said:

 

How about an S3 Normally Aspirated Esprit? They are hugely underrated and offer much better value

S3 normally aspirated are wonderful cars with (I think) the same galvanised chassis as the Turbo. A good S3 NA would be a better experience overall than starting with a poor Turbo. Buying a neglected Lotus could put you off sports cars for life unless you go in with your eyes and wallet wide open. 

And this is true for all sports cars. A friend of mine is a life-long Aston Martin fan. He finally bought his dream DB7 last year from a well-known dealer. He kept this 12 year old car for less than a year, 3000 miles and £8K in repairs and depreciation. My view was "You have to expect niggles and hassle with old cars". His view was "I just don't love cars enough to put up with that". We were both right. 

Justin

 

 

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Being 2 years into an 84 turbo restoration with my husband doing all of the work, this will probably cost the same again in parts alone to get into reasonable shape. Assuming the po has neglected it for some time. If your aim is like us to have a car at the end of it all which you know is in first class condition you may want to go down this route. We paid 7k for a car needing an engine rebuild. Which was too much at the time.

Areas to look at -

Fuel system pipes, tanks and carbs, brake lines and master, look for rust on the chassis by the exhaust manifold and on the front cross member on the near side front. Check for damage to the chassis around the engine cage at the rear. You will probably find pin holes in all the ally coolant pipes at the ends, issues with electrics, issues with all mechanical parts, maybe engine rebuild needed, carb rebuild, turbo rebiuld, water pump, manifolds are difficult to get, wastegates corrode, anything plastic trim wise is not easy to find. 

Dont get me wrong i love the car and its going to be worth the effort. If you can find a well maintained example you will avoid a lot of pain.

 

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Wouldn't like to see it running without a new cambelt. Definitely too much money even in this market. Stocks is worth a phone call.

hindsight: the science that is never wrong

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2 hours ago, NR2k said:

Being 2 years into an 84 turbo restoration with my husband doing all of the work, this will probably cost the same again in parts alone to get into reasonable shape. Assuming the po has neglected it for some time. If your aim is like us to have a car at the end of it all which you know is in first class condition you may want to go down this route. We paid 7k for a car needing an engine rebuild. Which was too much at the time.

Areas to look at -

Fuel system pipes, tanks and carbs, brake lines and master, look for rust on the chassis by the exhaust manifold and on the front cross member on the near side front. Check for damage to the chassis around the engine cage at the rear. You will probably find pin holes in all the ally coolant pipes at the ends, issues with electrics, issues with all mechanical parts, maybe engine rebuild needed, carb rebuild, turbo rebiuld, water pump, manifolds are difficult to get, wastegates corrode, anything plastic trim wise is not easy to find. 

Dont get me wrong i love the car and its going to be worth the effort. If you can find a well maintained example you will avoid a lot of pain.

 

Spot on advise from invaluable hands-on experience. 

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It may well be worth that amount if its been carefully looked after and just put away in storage.

If its been negelcted for the past 3 years and put away because it had an issue then it won't be worth that much. These cars don't do well when not regularly used. Some service parts are not that cheap or readily available any more and restoration work on the interior or bodywork could cost thousands. 

As for buying advice, buy on condition and don't be overawed by lots of service reciepts from years ago, it may still be a money pit. The timing belt really needs changing before the car is run, bent valves are not fun. 

If you are looking for a car to keep and love and you can use a spanner, the Esprit is a rewarding car to own.

You should also look around at other cars if possible so you can compare.

Buy with your head not your heart. :) 

It's getting there......

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All good advice above. But I have to admit I always buy cars entirely on condition of bodywork and interior and dont bother to check anything else. I can fix anything else. This policy has always worked well for me.

Don't take my advice though.... :)

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Good point Andy, and correct in many ways,   far cheaper for the oily things to be fixed, Interior not a drama imo, but the GRP and paint is costly due to it been a  specialist job imo,  and costs more time and money to do it correctly.

A

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