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The first year of ownership.....

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Hi Guys

I've been meaning to post this story for a while, so bit annoyed for not getting round to it sooner! I'm sure this story will be familiar to a lot of first timers!

I finally bought my first Esprit in June 2008, and quickly came to the conclusion I should have indulged earlier! Anyway as you may have seen from recent posts it wasn't exactly a trouble free purchase from a Kent based supplier!

The White S1, iconic, mesmerising and simply the only Lotus model I ever really considered owning. I must admit though, were it not for my lack of faith in italian V12's (a brief flirtation with a blue Espada) the week before purchasing 669 EAX, I would be posting on The Lamborghini Registry and not here.

The shortened story started with an Ad in Classic & Sportscar, described as having full engine rebuild, recent service yadder yadder. I'm sold. Head to Kent. Ignore all instincts, refused to think I should get my mechanic friend to check the car over and buy into sales patter, too in love with shape etc etc. Part with hard earned, and pickup a week later.

I need not tell you how excited I was, you've all been there. Roaring off into some Kent B roads before the drive back home to London was all I had imagined a Supercar delivering. The grin unbreakable....until any Junction where my inability to keep the car running got slightly annoying! The fully serviced engine being so badly adjusted the tickover was circa 300 revs!

Anyway I managed to keep it balanced in the end and got back to London, dicing with a Noble on the M25 along the way was entertaining, and kept my mind off the speed bumps and gridlock of Chiswick to come! Got back and immediately had a list of things I wanted to do, first of which was a call the following day to UKS to ask if it was usual (mechanicus ignoramus) for the stalling? "no there is a screw though you can adjust for that....." Cheers. One of the more useful pieces of info I got from the friendly dealer. I'm a pretty good judge of character and realised i'd been kippered so sent EAX off to Paul Matty with full instruction to right all mechanical wrongs as I had a European Trip planned. A list came back as long as your arm, I asked about the rebuild, service etc (as advertised). What service, what rebuild was the response. Shock. They did however let me know my numbers didn't match and I had a later 2.2 912 unit fitted (I have subsequently learnt all about the derivations, horse, door, bolts etc).

Anyway drove back from Brum, broke down on Chiswick High Road............Not especially happy having shelled

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I guess you now realize that you should have joined the forum before buying the car but I can't blame you for jumping in with both feet. That is a really nice-looking car. You certainly are brave, going for a thousand miles or so of continental touring as your first long trip in a 30-year old car.

Is there any recompense you can get from the seller as he described the car as having had an engine rebuild and a service when it hadn't? That sounds like misleading advertising to me. Did you get it from a dealer? I guess not as you took the car straightaway to Matty's (wise move). The cooling system was a weak point in these cars so that's one upgrade done. The headlight mechanism was also a weak point. Lotus switched to two motors for late S1's and after.

One strong point was the car's grand touring capabilities. They are comfortable with good seats and supple ride and easy to drive while not using too much fuel. Yet they let you have plenty of fun when you turn off the autostrade and onto the mountain roads.

Looking forwards to the next installment.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE


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Great, great, great story!!! (the trip, that is!)

If one headlamp pod is winking but not the other, then the cross-shaft coupler is either loose or cracked. It is the alloy piece that connects the shaft running to each headlight pod (assuming this is a single headlamp motor car). If the coupler is cracked, a "get you home" fix is to align the pods and pour some green loctite (the runny transparent green kind like you see on electronics) over the coupler and not move it until it has had time to cure. You can also unplug the headlamp motor with the pods in the up position until you get home.

Welcome to S1 ownership! :D

Seriously, though, once you get the car sorted, it will be far more fun and far less trouble than anything of that era from Italy. :)

...and NICE PICS!!!! I'M SOOOOO JEALOUS!!!!! :ice:

Tony K. :)


Esprit S1s #355H & 454H

Esprit S2.2  #324J

1991 Esprit SE

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Very enjoyable read, your trip not your dealings with the various dealers.

Looking forward to the second chapter of your holiday/trip.

Darryl & Sue

Proud to drive and own since new a true British supercar the Evora GT430

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What an adventure, that sounds ace for the main part but a shame that your buying and initial servicing experiences weren't brilliant. Good work getting the old girl up to speed and on your epic journey and I'm sure we're all looking forward to further updates.

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

For forum issues, please contact the Moderators. I will aim to respond to emails/PM's Mon-Fri 9-6 GMT. 

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Nice story and great pics Leon. I think thats definately the sort of trip alot of us would like to try.

Awaiting part two :ice:

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk - that will teach us to keep mouth shut!

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Excellent work Leon!!

Fantastic to see another enthusiast using their 'older' Esprit for proper jaunts! I've taken my S2 to Slovenia twice and once down to the Alps and a Scottish trip too and despite the odd hiccup they were fanstastic experiences. I've posted my trips with photos on the forum and it great to read someone else's adventure!

Bring on part 2!


Pete '79 S2

LEW Miss September 2009

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Nice tale, envious of your alpine trip. I can echo your comments re comfort on long trips, I did 600 miles in one day last year whth no aches pains or other discomfort other than an excess of exhilaration. Oh yes, and slightly ringing ears.

Hope to do MSA Euro Classic this year, Santander to Paris / Cherbourg.

Thanks for posting on this dismal damp & dark day....... :ice:

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Hi Leon, we both took the leap of faith at about the same time. I got my S1 in July 2008. My car came with extensive history indicating that all the headache stuff (timing belt, rebuilt belt tensioner, engine mounts, water pump etc..)had been done within the 18 months prior to me buying the car, costing the previous owner $7321.00. I have a 4 page invoice from one Lotus dealership totaling close to $2900. Unfortunately this just proofed that the money was spent and not that things would be trouble free. I am having issues in areas where I thought I would not due to sub standard work. My car currently sits on axle stands in the garage with the 'to do' list pinned to the wall. I think that between us we have proofed that buying an S1, even with documented history, can be a big gamble and even after taking sensible precautions you can still take a hit or two or three or four.

I got to drive 297 spirited and enjoyable miles in my S1 before I started to find the faults. I am frustrated that I didn't get more miles in but I take comfort in knowing I found the faults before any serious damage was done. I hope that next summer I will be able to recover those lost miles and smiles.


Edited by GavinT
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