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mike anderson

Considering an S4

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Hello everyone.Iv'e wanted an esprit for years. I was considering buying a 94 s4. It makes more sense than the V8 because of the engine failures in the V8. I was a mechanic for years but worked on american cars. As far as buying one goes, should i lean towards an s4 or a v8. I want the most reliable but it seems that working on the 4 cylinder would be easier. As far as parts go, i went on google for a good half hour and couldnt really find parts for these things. I guess the dealer is the way to go. I dont want a 911 because i no there not that reliable and they are dime a dozen. If anybody could help a young guy out, it would be greatly appreciated.

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The 8-pots had an issue which will have been rectified in any car you buy now unless it's been moth-balled for most of its life.

I'd still go 4-pot though, they are simpler and the later 4 pots give nearly the same power output as the 8-[pots had to be tuned-down to in order to save the transaxles. Having said that the S4 is nearly 100 BP below that figure, but you should get enough fun without that extra bit of power, the fun will come from the handling and cornering ability not the straight line drag race start.

Parts, they can be obtained from non-genuine sources, see the cross reference section in the tech bit, also some non-dealer speciailsts do some of the specific items non-genuine anyway.

See SJ sportscars, Lotusbits and Paul Matty to name three who have a web presence, and there are others who have the parts but not big web presences.

Regards

Andy

And welcome to TLF

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I would go for the 4 pot as well. I had an S4 that hadn't been well looked after and as such spent a fair amount on getting it straight, however after that it was a joy to drive and the S4 is a great looker.


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Thanks guys. I was looking at a black 94 S4 but would have to travel over a thousand miles to see it. they want 29k and it has 40k miles on it. The pictures really seem nice. I am just worried if something big goes wrong. I dont know how to pull an engine out of a esprit nor do i want to. But man this thing looks realllll good in black. I dont no why on earth they stoppped making such a great looking car.

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Hi Mike and welcome to the forum.

If you do some homework you'll soon find that the Esprit was made from the industry's parts bin. There's hundreds of cross reference parts and you can run your Esprit on a variety of budgets from topend main dealer and get to do all the work or do work yourself and source the parts from other manufacturers then but them from a motor factor.

All services parts can be bought from a motor factor. Personally for price of an oil filter from Lotus of £15 versus patten for £7 isn't really breaking the bank. Air filter is only £10-15, plugs £6 for proper NGK's (4 pot) or £4 for others.

The important thing is to put fully synthetic. I would recommend Mobile 1 15/50 but it's not cheap. Castrol RS 10/60 is also good.

Little things like running on a branded fully synthetic oil and genuine oil filter will make your car better to sell especially if you keep receipts and try and build a portfolio.

If you do a search on the relative model technical section, there's a cross reference section which should get you started.

Regards,

David Walters

PS. If you need any help finding parts then pm or email me. I'll point you in the right direction

Edited by superdavelotus

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Welcome to the forums Mike, I'm guessing you're based in the US?

Do you have any specialists nearby in case something does go pop? Worse thing for an Esprit is when a new owners buys a bargain supercar, baulks at the first big bill and leaves the car to rot or sells it on at a loss with big problems and the next guy, and next guy do the same. Esprits (more so the 4 cylinder cars) are real easy to work on but experience is invaluable in some circumstances so it's best to know if you've got backup in place should you need it.

That being said, they're solid cars but any 165mph+ sub 5.0 second car is going to be highly strung in comparison to a commuter box.


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

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thank you for your help superdave. Yes i am in the US and i dont know of anybody who works on these things.I would really like to work on it myself being a gm tech for 6 years. But i also understand this isnt a chevy 350. there used to be a dealer about a half hour from my house but they turned into like a maserati and bentley dealer. I went there one day and talked to one of the techs and he didnt really have to much time to talk. As far as driving one goes im about 6'1 and this would probly be a little akward huh? Also i heard there a little sloppy in the gear change. Thats a shame. Thats should be one of the strongest points about a sports car.

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Where in the US are you?

Being a GM tech we'd have to assume you have mechanical aptitude so you should have no problem working on the Esprit with a few pointers along the way and be sure to get the Service Notes and Parts Manual.

29K is probably a little steep for an S4 with that many miles unless it's immaculate and fully up to date in service.

Good luck!


1995 S4s

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I live in CT. Yeah that does sound kinda expensive. its been on autotrader.com for a while and it makes ya think why is it still there? I was thinking of calling the guy but its in colorado. Gonna be a big thing to fly out and look at it. and i obviously woulnd tdrive it home. Probaly cost a lot to get it flatbedded back. But definitly worth it. I just wish there was a nicce one around here. But its a rare car. Have you seen it on autotrader?

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Hi Mike,

A poorly maintained Esprit could have a sloppy gearchange but it's an easy fix. Gearbox end is only £50 or even less if you can find the right ball joints and nuts at your local engineering outlet. At gearshift end it's a little more tricky but if you are an engineer or handy at working things out then you can source the right bushes etc locally.

The first thing you'll need is a workshop manual and a parts manual. You can buy these from Lotus or if you become a paid up member here, you can download the parts section I think.

Being GM trained then once you buy an S4 onwards then you soon come across many GM parts like electics, post 98 cars (GT3 and V8) have Kelsey Hayes ABS, early cars have Delco Moraine, Steering rack is GM as too is alternator and ECU. Many of the sensors are GM or Peugeot.

Gearbox is Renault, Clutches for 4 pots are approx £175.

David Walters

PS. If it's a car you've always dream of then buy one, you won't be dissappointed! I am on my 4th now!

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Sorry we can't accept you until you've passed a rite of entry. Namely with your GM connections tell your masters to remake those abs pressure sensors for the Delco 3 channel systems. ;)

I think you'l find the 4 pots a delight. Overall these are simple cars, easy to work on albeit different from what you're used to. Pulling an engine and gearbox is easy. If there are winding country roads in your district you'll revell in their performance and roadholding. Being handmade means anything can be replicated, no plastic mouldings to eventually break from UV etc and become unobtainable. Also there's a lot to do if you want to improve the performance.

Have you checked out the info on Lotus Esprit World?


DanR

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Yes i have checked out Lotus esprit world, great site. I was told by a friend why dont you just get a 2005 or 2004 corvette for the same price. In a way he makes a good point. I didnt really see many corvettes come in to the dealership and even though they have a bad rep, i would say they are reliable,(compared to other sports, super cars,) and man they are scary fast. But i want an esprit. One problem is the town in live in CT has horrible roads pot holes, chewed up roads from the winter salt, and they dont reapir them. I am a little worried, as these may be west coast cars. I know of a bunch of gas stations that you would take the whole bottom of the car off when leaving being as low as they are. But i still dont care i want one BAD.

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Mike,

I know of a 94 S4 in British Racing Green/tan interior that I think is still available here in Central Florida. PM me if you'd like more info.

Edited by lotus4s

1995 S4s

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Mike, you have made the first mistake of a potential Lotus owner and listened to someone who is ill informed. Firstly you will fit in fine. I'm just over 6ft and erm.....225lbs and I fit in to the S4 fine. Very comfy.

Secondly the sloppy gearchange. If it has a sloppy gearchange then it could be a simple fix like on my old car, which had a worn spacer so the gator moved slightly when I was changing. It got worse and worse till I couldn't get it in gear. £50 fitted it cost me and the change was lovely, crisp and quick.

Sure it's not a short shift change like on my Exige, but it's not a racing car it's a GT.

Please don't listen to the "Lotus Of Trouble Usually Serious" crowd, they just spurt the same old ill informed rubbish.

With your GM Tech background you should be fine working on them. You just need a usefull parts outlet and some technical advice. Thats what we're here for (well not me, I'm a technical Numpty) and Many of the parts are also still available from the manufacturer.


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Hi Mike. Michael here.

I 'looked' at about 8 or 9 cars before I found the S4 I have now. I actually thought that I really liked the SE style until I saw the S4 in the flesh. Couldn't be happier.

Best of luck deciding.


All we know is that when they stop making this, we will be properly, properly sad.Jeremy Clarkson on the Esprit.

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, some just stink more than others.

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Mike,

I don't know where you are in CT, but I'm just over the water on Long Island. There are a quite a few Esprits here on LI and a number of people with extensive maintenance experience. Probably the best known specialist (RS Motorsports) locally is in Northern NJ though. For local group information, check out Lotus Limited http://www.lotuscarclub.org/ the largest North American Lotus group. Also, the Yahoo turboesprit group ([email protected]) which has a huge amount of technical help and quite a few local contributors from the greater New York City area. Good luck in your search for an S4.

Cheers,

Trevor

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Great info guys, REALLY appreciate it. As far as the transmission go, has anybody had any problems or heard of second gear faults in these things. I did some reading on here and it seemed to be alot of topics on gearboxs. Most of which you see second gear shift problems. This could be a potential nightmare. There was a was a black 97 on ebay, (best wheels in my opinion, better than the 2004 spokes) Man what a nice car, i mean REALLY. they wanted $37,000 for it, with 20k miles i think. But its still for sale so it makes me wonder. not bad considering that 1997 1998 porsche 993 are ALL rip offs and if they are cheap, they got over 90k on the clock. Im kinda confused but im young and dumb so i think im gonna go out and look at this car i talked about earlier in this topic( black s4 with 40k for $29K). Very far from my house though.

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Second gear is the normal failure (unless it's the haft in 5th which overhangs the main box).

You know that 2nd is treated hardest of all gears, thrash in 1st, slam up into 2nd, by the time you get to 3rd the car is moving so fast the gear changes start to get easier.

The second gear brass rings wear, so you end up with difficult changes at speed, that means the gears of the main 2nd cog get a bit more hard, and then they go as well.

The brass rings are standard part from Renault, not sure if the main cogs are, they may have been beefed up a bit.

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Mike,

I have my second house in Fairfield county and think nothing of driving anywhere in CT with my Lotus. The Merritt parkway is a fantastic ride. You learn to watch the road far ahead for any rough spots. I have 78k miles on my Lotus with just the routine servicing being done. Runs strong and only thing that has temporarily brought it down was Bambi's father committing suicide on the I540N in Raleigh NC.

If you have mechanical experience ( matter not whether it is GM, but that helps ) then you should have no issues at all. Make sure you purchase the factor manual and a must would be to order from " The Lotus Forum Shops " here is the Freescan cable to allow you to connect your laptop to your car. Also it seems from all my reading that most serious issues arise from lack of normal care for the cars. I own several exotics and you can not treat them nor the Lotus like it is a normal car. Money will be spent but always for a great cause. The annual maintenance is not like it would be on a Corvette, but the rewards so much better. And the noise as you run through the tunnel on the Merritt is amazing with the roof panel out.

There are many on here that love the look of the S4...though you will always have the eternal debate about the rear wings. ( almost similar to our debates about chevy, ford, and dodge trucks here in the US and just as humourous too ! ) I choose my 1994 S4 for a variety of reasons...mainly the 1994 had dual SIR bags, power steering, and the electronics were also a consideration.

In all my travels here in the US I have never seen another S4 on the road. In the better weather I am travelling between my houses at least every two to three weeks...The Lotus is my first choice...

If you have any questions please post or send a PM

Welcome...and yes that one is nice in black...

Christopher

Edited by cjtpb13

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Good choice with the S4. I've had mine almost 7 years now and the car is simply great.

Be proactive with the maintenance and buy the best car you can and make sure you have a PPI done prior. Look for full service history and you will have a great car. I have 2 friends with ferrari's from 80's and 90's...and the Lotus is more reliable, faster, and exotic then what they have...you will not be disappointed. Park it in the winter to avoid issues...

Jason

Edited by jfitz981

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The gearbox can have issues. I'd recommend Albins in Australia for any modifications. Their website lists US agents or deal directly with them.

They have been building gearsets for the dune racers for over 20 or 30 years. Albins make both the one shaft and strengthened two piece jobs. Also various ratios and dog gears. An interesting combo would be dog 1st and 2nd if you want lightning changes with regular sycros for 3-5th.

Their pricing is also more than competitive with the other aftermarket gearbox modifiers.


DanR

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You know as far as the transmission is concerned, i had a old VW golf wit the 1.6 diesel and they used brass syncros in the gearbox and mine were original with 230,000 miles. I guess its just the way people "romp" on these esprits. I mean obviously i didnt drive this golf like a maniac, it had 48 horsepower, but still no problem with the syncros. cjtpb13- man it must be nice to take one of these things on the merrit, nice twisty roads, not all chewed up like most of i-95. Its just where i live they dont pave the roads( i guess to stop people from speeding or a poor town who knows but, everyday i drive over the roads, i say to myself i must be crazy for wanting an esprit around these parts, but still i just really want one. im just gonna have to weight till i find the right one, or one locally. as far as exhaust go i heard one running on the show wheeler dealers( great show) and it sounded like crap,( even after they put the new manifold on it) but i heard even the v8s dont sound like a true sports/super car. i looked on borla.com and magnaflow and didnt see anything for the esprit s4. Can fiinding a nice throaty exhaust be hard to come by for these cars? I mean it is VERY important it sounds nice.

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Welcome to the forum, and hopefully to Esprit Ownership. Currently I have an '02 V8 which has been VERY realiable. So far in about 18 months of ownership the only problem I've had was a failed voltage regulator in the alternator, otherwise it's been "business as usual" with various bits of maintenance here and there. I have to agree with everyone so far in that the absolute most important thing about owning any high performance car is to keep on top of oil changes and services. Parts are extremely easy to source, though not from your run of the mill parts house as you'll get plenty of quizical looks and people asking you "who makes Lotus?". As for your concerns of working on it, don't be, It'll be a piece of cake to work on a Lotus. IMO it's actually easier to work on than my '86 fiero. The nice thing you'll notice as was mentioned before is the heavy reliance on parts from other manufacturers. Most of the engine electrics are GM/Delco, and even the pop-up headlights are standard issue GM generation II units used in later Fiero, Firebird, and Corvettes. You've definately made the first big step in coming here for advice as you'll usually find someone who "knows" the car your looking at. It's a very tightly knit community which you will not easily find with any other club/forum representing a particular marque.

Regarding your concerns about 2nd gear, the best advice I can give any driver is to use 2nd gear gently until the gearbox is fully warmed up. It's certainly not as problematic as other high performance makes. I understand that you CAN NOT use 2nd in a Ferrari until it warms up without risking catastrophic failure, but I have no experience in that, so can't confirm. Just keep in mind that these are cars and meant to be driven not sitting around as a show piece. The best maintenance program for an Esprit is to get it out, drive it, and perform services when time/milage limits approach.

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Mike, if you want someone to look at the car in Colorado let me know. I can always take a whiz over there with one of the 4 Pot guys from Lotus Colorado (LOCO) and we can give you the skinny of whats going on with the car.

Best of luck and good hunting, as others have said take your time and get the best car you can afford it will pay you back in spades later.


Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the chefs British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.

You make something idiotproof, they'll make a better idiot

You think professional is expensive, just wait until you pay for amateur.

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