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Hello again,

I’m a former owner of an SE and an S2 and have posted a few times before on various topics. A little bit of background.....

I eventually sold the S2 in 2013 (the SE had been gone a while at this stage). I was fortunate to own them both for a long period (about 5 years of overlap from memory) and had some great times with both cars.

With a family on the way, I pre-emptively moved across to another type of car, but deep down missed the S2. The SE was great to own, but the S2 was really the one I hankered after.

Another reason I sold up was that the S2 had reached the tipping point of really needing a body lift and paint work that at the time I couldn’t justify.

I scoped out a colour change (black to white) plus other amendments to create a look more akin to an S1.

Anyhow, the dealer I traded the car to hoped to restore it and knew of the intricacies of such work but I understand it got moved on a couple of times quite quickly until a later owner really invested in the car and it came up for sale recently at a southern dealer.

I wasn’t in a position to buy the car back but it was great to see the car having a new lease of life.

The restorer pretty much created the car I would have if I’d been in the position to keep it, which was another positive sign.

I’d started to investigate the possibility of buying an S1 / S2 again that I could improve and looked for abandoned projects.

As you know, these are rare and prices have climbed.

Maybe prompted by the events of Halloween and the passing of Sean Connery, I started to look at Bond cars again, and this led me back to day dreaming about Esprits and looking at the ads.

I was lucky in being the first to spot a project car that came up and also that the car was less than 2 miles away from where I lived.

The car is a partially stripped S2.......

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Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.

I went to view and pretty much knew this was going to be my last roll of the dice at Lotus ownership for various reasons.

We arranged a deal and I’ve now moved the car three miles to my home plus various boxes of spares.

The owner had intended a colour change and started the work around 6 years ago but had decided the time was right to sell.

I’m effectively picking up where he left off, he was a huge enthusiast and I’m hoping to keep him included in the process (I understand how difficult it can be to let go of a long term project).

So next steps......


3 minutes ago, LOTUSMAN33 said:

Well done Jonathan, you certainly grabbed a good deal. I take it you won’t be doing it bronze 😁

Dave :) 

Hi Dave,

I’m exploring the options at the moment, the original colour seems to be closer to brown than copper bronze!

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So I’m currently making an inventory of the parts, having previously owned an S2, I can at least recognise some of the kit of parts I have.

I will admit to going into the garage and needing to pinch myself to confirm I’m lucky enough to own an Esprit! 

So now onto the real work.

The car is partially stripped and has not run for around 5 years.

The lights and some electricals are stripped.

The owner before the guy I bought it from had deleted the ignition barrel and replaced it with a race car starter switch for example. Most of the glass is out of the car. A lot of hard work has gone into gently removing the black paint and the car has been very carefully stored and looked after.

I’m looking for guidance on the sequence to follow for restoration.....

5 minutes ago, LOTUSMAN33 said:

Looks like a nice project, it may have been roman bronze originally then, get a provenance certificate from Andy Graham at Lotus.

Look forward to seeing progress 👍🏻

Dave :) 

Thank you Dave, do you believe this is the actual car??

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No it was a S2 I previously owned which was Roman Bronze originally


I think I would try and get the car running to check everything out then get it painted and rebuild, a full restoration is big money so build and enjoy.

Help and photos are always available on here, I’m doing a S2 preservation at the moment rather than restoration.

Dave :) 

Do or do not, there is no try! 


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Thank you Dave, also for the provenance guide, I’ll do that!

long post:

Following I’ll build into a plan, hopefully some of this happening in parallel, hopefully avoiding bottlenecks and long delays that may sap my enthusiasm.

My thoughts are as follows, any feedback most welcome, particularly critical feedback to stop me potentially going down any rabbit holes for those that have gone before!

Especially around sequencing.

I’d like to have the project completed ideally within 5 years. I’ll enjoy it, but would like to avoid it becoming a life long endeavour.

Ideally, I’m going to continue the strip down and eventually lift the body.

(or should I reassemble to run the car to assess it first for a clearer idea?)


I would like to paint it white.

I’d like to delete the ears (a reversible process looking at the body).

Delete the after market sunroof.

Ideally, I’d like the front spoiler area to be S1. I explored this previously (via Stocks, but they no longer offer body shop services as far as I’m aware) but I’m not clear of all the changes needed to the fan mounts / air channeling etc to effect this now. The body itself is also different in that area (the S2 is ‘fatter’ on the nose without the spoiler?)

Ideally, this would be reversible within reason. A few forum members were kind enough to supply images from their S1 restorations in the past, but I can’t find the posts anymore!

If anyone has successfully done this, I’d be grateful for details. The restorer of my old S2 did this but I can’t reach them (I also have some further paperwork and information on my old car if they do make contact in return).

Also I understand it was also known S1’s were given the S2 look back in the day, so maybe some guides exist for the reverse of this?

I believe Lotus were fluid with the front format themselves around the transition (S1’s carrying factory S2 fronts etc).

I either want a faithful S1 set up at the front spoiler or I’ll stay with S2, I don’t think adapting the S2 spoiler for example will work for me. I won’t be doing this work if it involves body surgery but need to be able to instruct the body shop exactly what is required.

The mirrors are after market, so I’ll look for a single o/s  S1 reproduction mirror if these are still available (please let me know if a forum member still makes these?)

Send the body to an established specialist firm to complete all the grp repairs / amendments listed and paint it to acceptable standard.

The back I’ll leave as is, I’m happy with that.

Should the body be on a rolling chassis to send to body shop? I’d like it fully painted, but I’m happy with matt black for interior boot and engine areas. Should the screen be removed? Should I consider a dolly instead for mobility??

Im also concerned regards the seatbelt mounts that I may need to remove the inner sills. The handbrake is seized. Has anyone replaced theirs with an SE type that lays flat, as this was a great improvement comparing these cars back to back? Any guidance on sill removal? It looks a bit manky in there and I think the belts have been replaced.

Get the dash fully out? And the windscreen? Rear glass is out already.


Strip back completely.

Send to a specialist.

Repair any signs of decay (including replacing the warped front lower T area where it’s been jacked up). Blast and paint with whatever they use to protect oil rigs!!

I know how much of a task just stripping the car to this level is, but as it’s partially stripped already and looks tired underneath, I think it’s best to move forward with this now as opposed to later?

Replace all the ancillaries and make the underpinnings as new or renewed.

New suspension / bushes / rack.

Coat all this in wax while accessible.

Investigate well executed access hatches in part of the chassis to aid future servicing? (or leave well alone?)

Is the body shimming a complicated process? I would hate to build any flex into the finished vehicle.

Any chassis changes / considerations while it’s apart such as the rear cross member etc? (Removable modification?) Any specialists such as Spyder?


I’d ideally like a new loom, this one is partially stripped and using the glass fuses. I’m daunted by the electrical system to be honest and would gladly sub this out, but at what stage of the process? I’d like to switch to blade fuse box for example and a proper site for all the relays / better earth provision.

On a related note, following much grief across several vehicles, I’d like to delete the plumbed cabin heating system and replace it with an all electrical one in the same space, managed by the same controls. My old Esprit burst the through chassis pipes and I looped the pipes back as a temporary fix.

Outside of the originality issue (I’ll keep any parts that are removed for potential future reversing if required), has anyone done this?

I recall even in winter there was some good heat soak coming forward from the engine and while the cars apart, I’d accept a smaller heater output in return for peace of mind regards the matrix buried in the dash!

Also expand the battery tray to accept a much larger battery if possible.


Remove it and send it to a specialist (Matty’s / SJ / PNM / Lotus bits?) for a full strip down and refresh. The fluids have been left in the car so I’m expecting some corrosion internally etc.

Same for gearbox.

Should I aim first to hand / starter crank it (no plugs) after soaking the bores in oil to see if free? The belt age is indeterminate, so I’ll not risk it.

Any modifications I can make that would help with robustness / longevity that people know of? I’m happy with stock displacement etc but any uprating of bearings / shells etc. Move to efi? I’ll replace the manifold for example and probably heat wrap it and the chassis for protection in that area.


I will probably leave this for the time being to hit the 5 year deadline!

It’s been redone at some point in the past and in OK condition. It’s not to my taste as I’d prefer it black or tan, but aside from getting it back together, there’s so much work to do on the rest of the car that needs to be focused on. I’ll change the carpets as these aren’t seated well though. Maybe look to a retrim down the line.


Once the big kit is all back, reassemble it. If I run out of talent, ship it out as needed, but avoid farming the whole job out of possible (on cost grounds).

Ideally fit Wolfrace wheels (or an exact copy, recall these were back in production?) Are these still rare as hens teeth??

I’ll keep a running total but hoped to keep under a budget I have in mind (keen to know what latest thoughts are on what the above would run to if anyone has done any of this recently!)

I’m following a few you tube channels that have done similar and if that type of information had been available back in the day, it may have swayed me to have a go. Aware some of these guys though are full time restorers, and I’ve followed threads on rebuilds on here for years, and the complexity and detail required is breathtaking!

I’m not chasing concours (but admire you guys that have done this), more looking to get the car back to good usable condition (my old S2 unfortunately I struggled to get ahead of).

It has no paint so that forces the issue somewhat as does what looks to be a lot of hard graft already expended on the car over the past five years by its loving owner that I don’t want to undo.

This time I have more space and really no deadline other than the 5 year one to allow me time to enjoy the car before I’m potentially too old to do so!

I also want to enjoy the process and help build a ‘reliable’ car (I know!) for myself this time around that I’ve always wanted within a reasonable but not unlimited budget.

So that is the plan. I’m not a mechanic but I can do bits. I’ve watched the grp and rebuild work on here and seen restorations running into 10 years in other places, but I can’t really have that for my project, as I’ll just be too old to enjoy it. I’ll need to make compromises using specialists but I’m ok at grafting on low level tasks where needed as a bit of background about me.

Reading of similar turnkey restorations at £50K+ for the above at the specialists, if I can do a lot of the heavy lifting myself and be flexible, what are thoughts on budget planning?

Thanks in advance, this forum has always been a great place that I hugely enjoy, maybe I can contribute with a build thread of my own as I progress.


1 hour ago, LOTUSMAN33 said:

No it was a S2 I previously owned which was Roman Bronze originally


I think I would try and get the car running to check everything out then get it painted and rebuild, a full restoration is big money so build and enjoy.

Help and photos are always available on here, I’m doing a S2 preservation at the moment rather than restoration.

Dave :) 

Thank you, will consider the steps to getting the engine running maybe. Is that you in period with your car?

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Wow that was a long post 😁

A body off restoration will be expensive but if in no rush and to give the car real longevity it’s the way to go as allows proper access to everything.

Sunroof repair panels are available and I’ve done it myself on a S1 with good success, lots of advice on here or I can talk you through the process.

My advice is leave it as a S2 and put back to original but understand the desire to have a S1 and it’s your car. What I will say if you are outsourcing lots of the build you could have easily bought a genuine S1, several have passed hands at less than £30k recently in good/excellent order. Mind finding project cars is tough as most now restored or in the process of being done.

SJ sell the S1 front repair section but this will mean surgery to you front end and involve some cutting.

If you are going this far then converting the rear lights and panel is very simple fitting the correct lights and number plate plinth.

Deleting the ears is as you say simple but not sure I would as aids cooling, if you are going down this route fit a 78 S1 onwards induction box to the chassis ( SJ sell them).

The single mirror is available.

Wheels are not easy but do come up occasionally, expect to pay big figures though.

Any of those specialists are fine for the engine so just check prices and make your decision.

Sills are a pain to remove but no doubt you seat belt mounting points will be corroded so probably worth doing anyway.

A dolly for the body is simple to make and can advise when needed.

Looms are available through a couple suppliers.

Probably missed a few points 🙂


Do or do not, there is no try! 


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Thanks Dave, great advice!

I’d been looking at creating a full plan off line so thought I’d share it, specifically  to start to get the feedback above to weigh up options. Also I know I’m going to hit hurdles so I’m hoping the forum can act as ongoing motivation! Just last night reading a thread regards JPS body off, at least other people are going through the process at the same time for me to draw on.

I’m pretty much convinced the car will be painted white to replace brown, I’ve missed out a few times on white cars now and the car has a non original interior etc. I know it’s self justifying but it was a long term stripped down shell, a well done white car isn’t the original factory brown, but the car will be out and about again getting use as intended.

It’s not quickly reversible but you probably know where the origin of me wanting a white car started!

The only variations from it being an S2 will be into S1 territory (or uprating components under the skin for safety / new technology etc).

Thanks for the offer of support, which I will be taking you up on!

The front surgery to make this change, I’ll need to give more thought. I know I can paint the lower valance for example to make it look more like an S1 but I’m concerned about such a level of change to an original shell. 

I’d still love a car though with a blade spoiler. Any recommended body shops to contact regards GRP work these days?

Regards cooling. I’m hoping to tease out any updates I can make to the cooling system once the ears go from the forum from the S1 guys, such as better radiators and fans / over ride switches.

On my S2 previous, I’d reversed the cooling tubes into the bay so I could hear the induction better, which meant it drew air from the n/s ear (reducing the cooling flow a lot I expect). I never saw a major issue on the temp gauge and I know they added them quickly to address cooling, but I’m hoping modern fans etc now negate this. It’s reversible worst case but I do love the look of the S1! The induction sound though added another dimension to the car, a modification I think I first read on here.

Regards the S1 induction box, will this work with an S2 engine cover?

On a final note, I saw my old S2 for sale (there’s another thread on this somewhere) and the price was mid thirties, like you say it exceeded the cost of a few S1’s (and I expect its own restoration costs). It had actually had most of the above done to it. Other than the interior, it was pretty much a new car under the skin that looked like an S1. I wasn’t in the market at that time but aside from being a previous owner, it would have been a tough call to choose between a fully sorted S2 and an S1 at that level (I love the dash instruments on the S2 for example more than the S1). 

Lots of my ramblings but hoping to measure twice and cut only once etc.


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The later S1 induction box fits on the chassis in the bottom left of this picture of my old S1, you May have to add the mounting points although my JPS has a couple from the factory so you may be lucky. If not easy with the body off and a mig welder. The S2 engine cover will be fine I believe.

The GRP work is pretty simple if you decide on that route and most good body shops have people trained in GRP work but ask first. I personally do my own and can talk you through it or lots on here can help and advise.

Its your car so do what you wish, done well and in good taste your investment should be sound.

Dave :) 


Do or do not, there is no try! 


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14 hours ago, Fridge said:

Only in Sardinia.

BTW, Been following your build closely these past years, thanks for all the help and advice a while back helping me to look for another car!

It was the start of the journey again and very much appreciated.


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I managed to contact a couple of body shops regards the S1 front end. I believe they cut the S2 below the waist then graft on a new section. It’s not the S1 repair panels but a bespoke set of GRP just for this job from the ones I’ve spoken to, an easy job (for them, not me, the body I’ll sub out, especially after reading about the pitfalls of filling the sunroof!)

I assume that’s a better way to go than amending the S2 spoiler and blending it in? I remember having a few conversations first time regards this with a few owners. 

Could anyone outline if the front chassis radiator assembly then is also different on an S1? I’ll dig back through the S1 and S2 threads and compare but I’d be keen to know what parts to start looking for. Luckily (?) my radiator appears to be beyond repair so if I need a new one.

Of anyone had guidance on this specific area it would be much appreciated.

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The S2 radiator is deeper and therefore inclined. BTW there are 2 styles of air dam on an S1. Not that that's any concern here.

1 hour ago, JonSE said:

BTW, Been following your build closely these past years, thanks for all the help and advice a while back helping me to look for another car!

It was the start of the journey again and very much appreciated.


No problem. Hopefully it is some use. I tried to make it as clear and concise as possible. With each post themed on significant stages of a full restoration. I've lots of detailed photos, but since I haven't renewed my TLF membership I won't be able to post any more content.

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Hello Jon,

Welcome to the parade of fools otherwise known as Esprit restorers😉. For some fair appreciation of the extent of commitment demanded in sorting out these lovelies one might read through the threads posted here over the years. It seems most find the most extensive restos daunting, unless funded sufficiently to farm out the whole lot to the pros.

Regarding the nose section there is quite the change from S1 to S2. Conformance with Giugiaro's initial chiseled form required use of a bespoke very short radiator and GRP pod to suit. The bib spoiler employed has a tacked on appearance to some but served to support airflow through the rad. When A/C was added to the car for the S2 onward it was decided to revert to a taller, more conventional rad presumably to rationalise cost and match scale of available A/C condensers. This deeper arrangement prompted revision to the lower edge of the body forward of the front wheelarch,  provision of a new, deeper pod, and the familiar airdam. 


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1 hour ago, Fridge said:

Try not to destroy that steering wheel covering. It looks original and in good condition. Retrimmed wheels never look the same, no matter how well it's done.


Hopefully that’s it, the adhesive all came off, it’s got some patina and I need to fix half of the rear tabs back in but I’m happy with it as is.👍

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Ah, understood.

I’ll just be cleaning the wheel itself.

The interior has been retrimmed at some point, it’s good quality (I think) but quite well “stuffed” if you know what I mean. I’ll eventually look to have it done properly in darker colours if it warrants it, but my priority is to get the mechanicals and body sorted to get the car going again.

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Looking at the loom this afternoon, it seems in really bad condition, with hacks and adjustments and none standard switches. I’ve been reviewing the loom topic on the forum and I’m erring towards replacement.

This brings me onto a question about phasing the work and what you all may have found worked best?

The car is well stripped (for the PO to paint it).

But I’m not sure wether to continue to strip for the body off or get the car going again. If I was attempting a restoration from a built car, I wouldn’t have started here I’d you know what I mean (I’d have probably lifted the body as in tact as possible then after competing the chassis, done the body as a rolling shell, splitting the restoration  into 2 and running the car in the middle of it again).

Although looking quite complete, it’s had a good number of hours on strip down so far and carries no paint. But it’s now been around a decade since it was last run.

Should I just go all in now?

Would welcome any input, also if you can endure it, plenty of ‘what’s this’ type photos over the next decade!

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Personally if it were mine I would do a good survey of the mechanics but probably without seeing your car go down the route of continuing the strip down.

The engine hasn’t run for so long the clutch is no doubt stuck and the seals are likely to be poor so if you run it won’t be ideal. The carbs will be gummed up and need a rebuild and fuel tanks likely to be less than ideal internally.

Take the body off, sort out the mechanics giving the engine a refresh or rebuild, new clutch and belts along with anything else, new fluids, hoses, fuel system, represerve everything and replace worn items.

Make up a dolly and get the shell painted, worry about the interior last, you can run the engine with the body off, I can loan you a starter panel and wiring for this purpose.

We are all here to help with your journey so post anything which challenges you and enjoy the build.

Dave :) 

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Do or do not, there is no try! 


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