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Frequent Driving - What to expect?


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Hi folks,

I'm considering the purchase of an Esprit and my budget falls in the late eighties to early nineties range. This car would not be a "daily" driver as I have a Hummer I enjoy, but it would definitely be a "frequent" driver, as in I expect I'll be driving the car roughly 75% of the time. Likely 100% for the first few months of ownership. :D

It's hard to find an Esprit with high miles. I'm wondering why. I'm also seeing cars for sale with 40k miles that have already had an engine rebuilt. Again, I'm wondering why. What can I expect to deal with in terms of maintenance, expense, and depreciation if I take one of these cars and start putting 8k miles on it every year? Are they really suited for that kind of use - were they made to drive? Or are they more useful as fancy garage sculptures? I mean no offense, I really want to know. How does parts availability look? Are there critical components that you just can't get anymore?

I believe I have enough experience to maintain the vehicle. I owned an '81 DeLorean, drove it daily for 3 years and performed most of my own maintenance - electrical, fuel systems, cooling systems, hydraulic systems, you name it, I've had it apart. Pulled the transmission twice, by myself. So, I'm no stranger to getting my hands dirty on what is effectively a British sports car. That being said, I don't want a basket case on my hands that I have to screw around with all the time. I want something reliable that, yeah, I might have to tinker with now and again, but I'm not going to be dumping thousands of dollars and dozens of hours worth of work into every few months.

What do you think? Should I be considering an Esprit of this vintage for a fun, regular driver?

Thank you!

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Is that 40K after an engine rebuild ?

Most 4 bangers will last at least 100,000 if serviced correctly - I know more than a handful past that (my GT2 is at about 95,000 and still behaves)

I know loads of cars with high mileage, I suspect you're just seeing an un-usual snap shot of the market.

LOL, ALL Lotus' are made to drive and infact there is nothing a Lotus hates more than to be left in the garage.

My 97 GT3 HATES being neglected, mainly because I dont use a car much.

In all honesty if you looked after a Delorean the Esprit will be a breeze, some owners on here have both the sister cars, I think if you're that well versed working on cars an Esprit is not going to be a daunting prospect and infact I think you'll find it a lot easier than you thought to get on with.

Never had a problem with any parts, there are plenty of good suppliers and Lotus back the car up well, only 3 years ago they re-made a lot of the suspension for them, the factory still support it with regards to tech advice, upgrades (suspension and polybushes) and servicing so it's all good.

You made one of the best steps thou, to come on here and chat, no end of knowledge here from some really interesting people over the world.

Keep in the forefront of your mind though - it's no ford fiesta, they are supercars and to expect the car to perform like a daily driver is asking a lot, that said I know of poeple who do use them daily and have nothing but the standard probs/niggles. Esprits usually come in the good or terrible band, just make sure you get a goodun.

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the 1995 S4 I used to have had 85000 on the clock when I sold her and is now in the good hands of another forum member

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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IMO, you can make the Esprit a very good daily driver. the most important first step, aside from getting real world experience from those who own them, is to find one that has been properly maintained. They are no where near the forgiveness level of a Honda when it comes to lack of scheduled maintenance. Servicing is actually quite easy and not too time consuming provided you have a well equiped tool chest. Parts are actually quite easy to come by, though not necessarily "cheap". There are plenty of specialty places to buy parts as well as your local Lotus dealership. The nice thing about parts however is that many of them come from mass production cars which tend to be much easier to source since most chain parts suppliers don't even have a listing for Lotus in their computers. As you search through the forum, you will see that many members have posted cross referrence lists that include many parts that are interchangable from the Esprit to other more common cars.

As for your point of low milage, I too noticed that most of the cars you see listed on various websites (ebay included) are lower milage. Certainly not following the average 10K or so that most cars do. The only explaination I have is that they're weekend toys. I don't have a significant number of miles on mine, as I've not yet even broke the 28K mark, but I also have another car that I drive 75% of the time. Don't be afraid to drive it. Most problems result in those who only drive them once a month or less or are lazy about mainenance. These cars thrive on being driven, which is the second best thing one can do after keeping on top of maintenance.

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My Esprit is my daily driver. It needed an engine rebuild (the DPO drove it with a siezed waste gate!!!)

Granted I don't do much mileage but it does get started 5 days out of 7 and as Jonathan says, apart from little problems she runs like a dream.

Hope you get the right car for you.


PS DPO = Dreaded Previous Owner

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First and foremost; Welcome to the forum...

Secondly, last year I placed about 20,000 miles of driving on my S4 last year ( before it went in the shop after a deer struck it...and no it was not being used as my daily driver either...long story ). Owning several exotics as stated above, maintenance is an extreme important factor but just as important is driving them. Nothing seems to be worse on a car than it to be left sitting around in the garage with no exercise.

Two advantages that you have gained early on. You sound as if you have the mechanical ability and you have found TLF prior to purchasing. I found this site far after I purchased my S4 to add to my collection. I wish I had found it earlier...what a wealth of information and a fantastic group or people. Still with the help of the car gods I lucked out in my selection. If I had known about TLF I would have looked about quite differently. If it has broken or misbehaved on an Esprit it is on TLF with the solution.

I know here in the US ( not sure from where you hail ) there are times you can expect down time. Mainly due to the fact that you are awaiting parts to clear customs. There are times when my Lotus has been unavailable for a drive due to the fact that I am awaiting a piece that cannot cross reference. And you hate to make or modify one and then eventually turn into the DPO as Boots described.

Best of luck with your search and once again welcome!

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Frequent driving - What to expect?

If you're married: "Do you really have to drive like that all the time?"

If you're on your own in the car: Smiles

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.

For forum issues, please contact one of us Moderators.

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Wow - you folks are awesome. Thank you for all of the replies! I am in the U.S., but if I had to wait for parts, no big deal, as I will have another vehicle to drive. Two more questions:

1. Those of you who are putting miles on your cars (Christopher - 20k miles in a year! Awesome!), how intensive has the maintenance been during that time? I don't care about the little stuff, a hundred bucks here and there is no big deal, but how frequent are the $1000+ repairs? Also, I don't live in a major city and will not have the benefit of a Lotus mechanic, so I'll be doing my own maintenance and want to make sure I'm not getting myself into a serious time vampire. :D

2. Any advice on buying a super clean car with extremely low miles, that has mostly been "used" as an "investment" / showpiece in a garage, and then putting it into regular service? Am I asking for trouble? Now, I'm not talking about a car that has been sitting under a tarp for the past decade - I wouldn't touch that - but rather something that might have been driven one Sunday a month, if that, and is mostly original due to a relative lack of use. What I found with the DeLoreans is, the lower the miles = the less used = the more problems if you suddenly start using them. Rubber hoses, seals, o-rings, you name it, they're dried out and shot. DeLoreans are also ~10 years older than the Esprits I'm considering, which definitely is a factor.

I am very familiar with the curse of the DPO and am meticulous about my repairs, as I don't want to become him. I'm no expert mechanic and have no formal training, but I've been working on my own cars since I was a teenager. I have a fully stocked garage with decent quality tools, plenty of air tools, etc, and don't "hack" anything together. So I think I'll be OK. ;) Definitely, with the help and advice in this forum I'm confident I can accomplish anything.

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You will find this forum fantastic. You have only scratched the surface. I own two other exotics of Italian nature and dealing with TLF has been an absolute treat. I also have the advantage that I travel extensively throughout the world for my business so I get the opportunity to meet more members than most do in the US.

To answer your question with a short background. I too am not a professional mechanic, but have worked on cars since I was in my early teen years. My father restored cars and was a fantastic teacher. He did it because he loved cars and he passed that along to me. Fast forward many years and I ended up with a fully equipped garage with a lift and space for four cars at my house in MD. There are few items I will not perform on my car, the main one being aircon, not my expertise and I do not want the equipment. will find though that your use of air tools will lessen on exotic cars.

This past year I performed the belt changes, routine maintenance of the plugs, wires, radiator flush, the chargecooler impeller, and oil changes and gear box changes. Total spent this year on parts totaled about $900 USD. But I am a firm believer in routine and preventative maintenance. Especial when it comes to gearbox and engine oil and filters. THe timing belt was preventative change...worry more about excess heat as I run my cars fairly hard. Now I did go through three back sets of tyres this year and that is not factored into the cost. Knock on wood, except for the damn deer on the I540N in Raleigh NC in November, I have not had a major repair cost of any type.

Since it is not a primary driver per say...personal opinion says not to worry about the it has been sitting in the garage for years and not run syndrome. So you end up having to change belts, hoses, and seals...I have seen cars that have 14k miles on them and they are trashed, yet seen cars that have 100k miles on them that look brand new. Learn all you can on this forum about all the problems and my one piece of advice. Purchase a Freescan cable ( if you do not buy one of the 4pots aadvert it and make some of your money back but treat as investment ) and run Freescan and Espritmon on the car to see any engine issues. If I had done this I could have used to negotiate a better deal with the broker I used. As I had found two issues with the car. Would be the same as taking an OBDII scanner tool with you whilst looking at any other car. More information you can discover the better.

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Used my car as a daily driver for a few years when I first got it...but it was a lot younger then! I was using a main dealer for servicing and roughly expected and experienced £300, £600, £900 to cover the a b and c services (sequenced a,b,a,c,a,b,a,c, etc) which were done to schedule every 6000miles.....or at that time about 5 services in two years. I stopped using the car so much and now have one service a year and cover around 2000miles (amazingly service costs are still approx the same after 20 years). The car is definitely not as happy being used as infrequently as this implies. Most of the b and c service costs are labour time doing "checks" or the belts and valve clearances - so if you're doing it yourself service costs will be much lower....but some parts are expensive if they break.

Loving Lionel and Eleanor......missing Charlie and Sonny

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There are 3 accessories you need for Lotus ownership, membership of a breakdown organisation, a mobile phone to call them, and a fire extinguisher for when it's urgent.:D

Life is like a sewer, what you get out of it, depends on what you put into it. (Tom Leahrer)

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