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My first impression of my "new" 95 Esprit S4 - Introductions - The Lotus Forums #ForTheOwners Jump to content

My first impression of my "new" 95 Esprit S4


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Hi folks:

This is my first post. I just bought a 1995 Esprit S4 with 46000 miles on it. It was a salvaged title but I think the previous owner did a very good job restoring it and then drove it for 2 years. He needs to unload many of his "toys" so I was very happy to get it off his hand. I have dreamed of owning a Lotus Esprit ever since grade school when I saw James Bond driving it. Now my dream is finally fulfilled.

I don't have the car in my garage yet. The previous owner needs to get it smog checked before the transfer of title can take place so I paid, but left it with him for now. I did drive in it for a couple hours. This is the first time I drove a Lotus and my other car is a 2006 BMW 525i w/ sports package. Here is my initial impression on the car.

I looked for a S4 because I want power steering, easier shifting, ABS brakes, more modern interior, and most importantly, the most reliability I can possibly get. So far so good and everything seem to be working in my car so far. It is much smaller than I thought; however, once I got in the car, everything is OK again. I actually have much more trouble getting out of the car as I have to move the seat all the way back to free my legs. The foot well is tight, but I can find a position to fit my feet fairly well inside and drive fairly comfortably. I biggest problem was actually the gear shifting. After driving automatics for 20 years after my "stick" college car, I almost forgot how to drive a stick again. I could not find a stick rental anywhere, so I have to refresh my muscle memories in this "exotics". I stalled 3 times on the road. One time I actually shifted into first after a red light and forgot to press the clutch, that stalled the car for sure. I hope I did not put any bad damage on the transmission yet. I got progressively better over the 2 hours. It is not where I want to be yet, but I can "drive" the car up and down the road, do 3 points U turn, and get on the freeway cruising for now. I hope I won’t get stuck in stop and go traffic in this baby anytime soon. Did anyone else "learned" how to drive a stick in a Lotus?

The power steering makes the car easy to drive in any speed. The handling is precise. The ride is stiff, but not uncomfortable. Since I do not plan to drive it in a track meet, is there a way to make the ride a bit softer for everyday use?

Compare to my Bimmer 5, the Esprit is loud, and everything in the car seems to be rattling and noisy in any speed. I tried to compensate by turning up the Radio / CD, but the stereo setup in it is pretty weak, too. Is this the way of life for a Lotus driver? What's your experience? Any tips to make it better?

Of course the Esprit is a performance car. Until I get the total control of the manual transmission, I won't do anything too fast. Maybe in later posts I can share some "real driving experiences".

I thank you all in advance and look forward to share my experiences with all of you for hopefully many years to come.

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Congrats on your purchase! Post up some pics.

As for the noises, it's fairly common to have rattles/squeaks/creaks in the cabin but I have found that with a little judicious searching and work and adding some cushioning material in the right places, most of the annoying noises can be eliminated.

On the ride, we need to know what suspension you have now. Are the dampers (shocks) OEM or aftermarket, are they old and worn? With the proper setup the S4 is actually pretty smooth for a car that's closer to a race car than a luxury coupe. It will never ride like your BMW however. Different animals.

Good luck on learning to drive the stick again...

1995 S4s

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Probs with the ride is when you soften it (usually with adjustable dampers) and then you want to play you forget and the thing bites you.

Same with the ride noise - its a supercar, it tends to do 1 thing really well and the rest rather mediocre/poorly. This is why people buy Porsches etc to insulate themselves from the road.

Remember you buy an Esprit with your heart, not your head ! :)

The pre GT3 interiors are rattly - my GT3 is pretty quiet (build is much better imo) there's less panels and they are alcantara finish, not leather so they dont creak and knock.

Poeple poke felt buffers inbetween the leather to try and silence it but really, without major interior re-trimming, it's aleays going to be a noisy car. Tyres dont help either being low profile, neither does the fibreglass which tends to amplify the sound on the bumps etc.

The one thing you can do is ensure all the panels are correctly aligned and the windows seals are ok, that will stop some of the wind noise.

Best antidote though is to put the roof up, pull the windows down and just drive.

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Good looking car, welcome!

My first impression was 10 years ago when I was 25 and all I remember was scenery going backwards really fast. Can't remember the last time I turned my stereo on and I've no cat or silencers, I love the engine noise. :)

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

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Good lookin car.

I notice it's got wider that standard wheels on - that'll make a difference to road noise for sure.

Esp on them hard roads in Cali - it's not as if they can pour tarmac down on the roads there is it (you'd be sticking rather than driving !)

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Without being biased great choice of car.

I was in the same boat as you five years ago I chucked in my Mazda RX8 for my Esprit and first drive was awful.

It was really hard to engage gears without crunching it was noisy it creaked, it had lots of wind noise, but it did one thing that no other car i've owned ever did........kept a smile on my face five years on.

I sorted the clutch, I replaced the door seal rubbers, I replaced the gear linkages and even had the engine rebuilt even though it did not need it as was on 41000 when i got her. She has a high flow cat, is ported, bigger turbo, chipped and now has smaller straight through exhaust, grooved disks front and rear and is louder than ever.

She still has a creaking sunroof, a louder than ever exhaust, oh forgot to mention the wider V8 wheels like yours so even noisier road noise and yet every journey is special, if i want to enjoy comfort i use the Espace V6 but The Esprit gives satisfaction and still gives me grin factor. No stereo, the windows down and roof out (summer time of course).

After all is that not why you have the BMW for comfort :)

Enjoy it its a great drivers car...and over time it'll make you a better driver none of that horrible driver gadgetry in modern cars.


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I got my S4 almost 7 years ago now. I still love driving it! It was by far the fastest car I had driven. I stepped up from a 300zx twin turbo and the Esprit was/is hands down a better performance car! Stay on top of the maintenance and be proactive and you will have many good/fun years of ownership! The owner before me was very tall and ended up removing the seat rails to get the extra inch or 2 he needed to fit...I am not that tall and was on the phone making sure he sent me those seat rails so I could touch the pedals!

Have a blast and drive fast!


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Is this the car from OC (buena Park or surrounding area)? We have a pretty active OC Lotus contingent and usually meet a few times a month at Cars and Coffee in Irvine on a Saturday morning. Anyway, congrats on the car and hope to see you on the road soon!

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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Man. This is a very exclusive club. People can just look at the picture and know where the car has been hung out.

Yes. I bought this car from an owner in Buena Park. I live in Rialto, near San Bernardino. I am actually flying to Asia for business and visit the World Expo in Shanghai next week. Once I returned in late June and get my body clock readjusted, I will drive the Esprit S4 to the Cafe on a Saturday morning to meet other owners. Do you have an e-mail list for this group in OC?

Here is another picture of the car.


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Great looking car and I am sure you will get the hang of the gear change. As for noise ... when I first bought my '89 SE turbo I was impressed with how quiet it is! But then my other cars are a '71 Elan Sprint and a '03 Elise ... it is all relative. As for ride quality the Elan beats the others hands down.



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Welcome to TLF. Great set of guys here. When it comes to finding out technical issues you can generally find it here.

Noises are part of the character of the car. Unlike our leader ( Bibs ) , and I can personally attest that he does not use the stereo, I use my stereo. I have upgraded all the components. But the car has plenty of squeaks and rattles. The nature of the beast. They become familiar and when you do not hear them you begin to worry.

Enjoy and look towards seeing you active here


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