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82, 83, 84, 85, 86 s3 variations


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Greetings all...

As you will no doubt be aware i am in the search for an NA s3. I went to view a car this weekend with Mr Bazza (to whom i am very grateful for his fantastic expertise.... also a cracking bloke) the car was lovely but not without fault. we came to the conclusion that what would be suitable for myself would be a post 85 s3. I was kindly informed about the subtle changes that these cars posessed over their earlier counterparts, but i have sadly forggoten many of Bazza's wise words. hat are the subtle changes and to what degree do they impact on the car? can any of you esprit minded individuals enlighten me?

when searching around for vehicles what means do many of you folk use? i obviously check out the LEW 4 sale section about once a week, autotrader and pistonheads also do people have any other locations that may bear fruit in the s3 search?

i also noted that of the s3's available, very few of them arre 85/86 vehicles which im told have the above mentioned slight improvements over the older cars, is this a marked improvement? is it worth almost filtering out models pree these dates? is it worth holding out to wait for 85/86 cars to come on to the market? I am of course in no rush and want to see plenty of cars before i part with my hard earned (or Loaned!!!) cash. But all in all useful to know.

Regards,

Jon

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The nature of Lotus production at that time was such that there are no sharp cut-offs between one model year and the next. Production efficiencies demanded that componenet supplies were generally used up before switching to an improved alternative. By the dates you mention the Giugiaro Esprits were as good as they were ever going to get. Can't remember every precise update which took place though.

IMO the best cars will be S3s with body coloured bumpers and removable glass roof (preferably no air conditioning). Having said that, after 20 years any S3 in really good condition must be worth a look.

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IMO the best cars will be S3s with body coloured bumpers and removable glass roof (preferably no air conditioning).

John, I'm curious why you would exclude air con. Was there a problem with it?

Dave Everett

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Thanks for that mr Lowtus sir... Looked at an 84 model with the later gearbox denoted by the black gearstick. it has the old dash with the heading controls on the wrap around and not beneath the radio. Im lead to belive that the post 85 s3's had better suspension, resulting in better handling and reliability and wanted to see if this car had such improvements maybee being a late 84 car.

I havent managed to spot many post 85/86 s3 NA's available so was wondering weather it was woth holding out

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To be honest all these cars are so old now that I think it's the overall condition that's more important. I know I'd take an immaculate good looking say 82 S3 over a cheaper but less good say 86 S3.

That said, I'd def hang on for the car you want. Keep looking, and you're doing exactly the right thing taking other LEFers along to look. Don't worry, the right car will be along in time. Good luck.

Regards

Mat

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I have a 1982 S3 with air con, and it works very well - no problems so far.

Andrew

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To enjoy this masterpiece, download Martin now. Simples!!!

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i would think the later cars are more sorted with the cooling slot on the rear deck and upgraded 180hp motor.

Later S3 had body color bumper have softer look than the chisel appearance of the early S3's. I prefer the purity of the early S3 design with the blacked out A-piller finisher, sharper radius cant rails of the S1,S2.

the late cars "gather" leather interior leather looks much more loose then the early cars.

my 2 cents

pp

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Re air con, the better without Vs I wouldn't be without opinions

I guess climate is going to be a big deciding factor, and if you're in Australia your opinion of it being a necessity is justified, but if you're in the UK it could become a nice to have provided it functions perfectly and doesn't sap power.

This discussion is going to show one thread, we all like different aspects of the cars, and have different preferences to styles, colours, trim, originality of design, evolution of design etc.

My personal taste is, no air con (don't need it), G body, part leather trim (less shocking when you sit on a set in arealy hot / really cold car). rakes on the later car are better, but neither are modern car standard. later S3 cars without trunnions are my preference, btu as long as you're happy to maintain trunnions the earlier ones are OK.

Andy

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Early S3 pre '85 used GT6 uprights and trunions which was replaced with the same Toyota set up seen on the early Stevens. The Engine was pretty much unchanged in the S3 until the release of the S3 HC which was the HC engine from the Excel SE. It had a higher compression ratio which increased the power to 176bhp (180bhp in the Excel SE due to its Exhaust) this also brought with it a slightly different vacuum system for throttle advance through a throttle jack. The interior went through several very minor changes but the S3 HC had a different door card design and seats (which were very sexy). The binicle changed slightly depending on the year some early models still had the S2 dash. Cant rails were changed at around 85 to the moulded one piece design to the early black corner cap by the quarter light. Later models also had colour coded bumpers.

Most of the changes were minor and did not really affect the car that much. I think as pointed out it is more important to get a clean well looked after car to begin with. Just remember there is no such thing as a cheap Esprit.

Comparing a N/A to a Turbo is far easier but many think the addition of the Turbo makes it a much quicker car but most will tell you that on country roads there is little difference between them. Oh and there is even less difference between my S3 and most Turbos. By the end of the year once I have my injection fitted the difference should be in my favour :blush:^_^

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Thanks for the help here guys. Iv spoken to a few people regarding teh differences and in general there seems to be a consensus that the suspension and chassis improvements did benefit the latter models but not to a massive extent. I do understand that a well loved and looked after example of any model will provide less issues in the future. Of course im fully aware that no esprit is cheap to run and so finding the right car is a balance between purchasing the best one that i can afford and not spanking it all so that i can fix things to a high standard when required.

There seems to be few later cars on the market and those that do crop up are always red!!!!! Bloody Red!!! to find the right car mechanicaly is of course the priority but even if it was perfect i dont think i could do that flat calypso red. You have to admit that one of the core reasons we adore these cars is that shape and colour is also massivley important in the image of the car.... just not red

(I just know il get a red one now!!!!.............)

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Jon - as mentioned the key thing here is that the car was constantly developed during its lifetime hence it would usually be true to say the later the better in terms of development though as also stated now the Giugiaro cars are at the latest 21 years old it'll be down to individual care and history that will determine any cars condition now.

The later G cars did have more refined suspension and especially improved cooling and the HC engine was certainly better for performance and longevity. Oh and the later cars had better brakes. Having said that Pauls Essex is now 28 years old and still looks factory fresh just because its been cossetted and cared for - thats the key to any car of any age.

I still think the early Turbos look better with their lowered suspension and ride height even if it was raised for optimum handling.

Edited by nello
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John, I'm curious why you would exclude air con. Was there a problem with it?

Dave Everett

Only because the a/c saps a tad of power from a fairly modest engine and is just one more thing to go wrong. Happily my S3's delivered many years of trouble-free motoring apart from a split radiator (very common) which I removed for repair and then refitted.

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I would have prefered to not have had the Glass roof though I think by 1987 it was standard? I know it was developed to kind'of rival the 308/328's Targa roof but to my mind all it does is let Heat in and you lose the nice cocooned effect the Esprit has with all that light. Made a Liner panel for mine......

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