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Rich H

To Esprit or not...

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Hello,

I'm considering my next car move and I have always liked Esprits; currently I have a 1997 Elise S1 and a 1980 924 Turbo.

The plan is to sell the Elise, which I have owned for 5 years, and fund an Esprit Turbo SE if I can find one I like.:thumbsup:

I've been reading up as much as I can and reading buyers guides all over the place but they all seem to lack any real substance.

I'm in no hurry and I'm aware there are potential 'bottomless money pits' that are about so I'm keen to take my time and take advantage of other peoples experiences!

I therefore have a few questions if you would be so kind:

Am I being realistic: My budget will be around £10k for the Esprit.

I've checked insurance and it's £200 over the Elise, which I can live with, and it's going to be my 'occasional' car (The 924 is more than capable of being a parts chaser and daily)

I want an Esprit that is in need of a bit of TLC not of major rebuilding, I want a rolling project not a garage queen. Is £10k enough?

I am a keen amateur mechanic: how much is DIY possible?

I'm not scared of taking things to bits but is there much that is ridiculously hard or needing specialist kit?

Rusty bits I can cope with but unobtainium parts or unreachable fasteners are not what I want...

I do have a lathe for making bits if that helps...

Metric or imperial: Are the majority of fasteners imperial?

I have no idea? I have metric tooling mostly and whitworth for the lathe...

Might be a daft question: do they leak much? Easily fixed? The Elise leaks but there isn't an interior to worry about.

I get a bit OCD when it comes to things like this, I took the dash out of the Porsche and re-loomed it all to stop the rattles...

That'll do for now.

Thanks

Rich

PS: Anyone want a Silver S1 Elise with some go-faster mods?

Edited by Rich H

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Welcome. Stick your Elise in our classifieds for free - http://www.lotusforsale.com

Esprits are waterproof, you'll be fine and they're easy enough for the home mechanic, most parts are easy to come by They're mainly metric, it's a late 80's/early 90's car, it's not that old in the big scheme of things. The SE is also renown for being the fastest and best looking Esprit so good choice! You'll get an average SE for that money, but even that will be very good so look forward to the day you pick one up :thumbsup:

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Hi Rich,

One reason you will probably do well with anything you buy is you sound like you've done your homework.

£10 should be fine, I bought a project SE for £6000 but it was in a little bit of a state, so £10 should get you a nice runner infact.

Buyers guides...yup...shite mostly, million times easier to get experieince from real owners not the copy/paste review crew.

Is DIY possible - yes, Im an idiot and I have 2 I regularly work on, service and modify / arse about with. One is a long long long long term project where I have done everything from paint and fibreglass to breaking systems - principally they are not hard to work on. What you will need though is a bit of patience, decent tool kit, and the owners maintenance manual - you look at a job on the Esprit and think..."oh thats easy" then find out there are a few quirks you didn't realise needed doing and BANG something breaks. The person/s who worked on my SE Esprit last made those mistakes and luckily I got to it before the gearbox blew up etc etc.

As I keep saying there is a huge difference between a technician / fitter and an Engineer - on the Esprit it helps to be more of an engineer and think WHY things are in certain places and why Lotus did this and that. The service maintenance book will go through this step by step like a haynes manual - not cheap but worth every penny.

I have 2-3 specialist tools, not much, infact no more than any other car, what I would recomend though is getting a variation of tools - for example, ring spanners, angled ring spanners, mini ring spanners and ratchet ring spanners - catch my drift ?

The cars are hand built in sequence so sometimes getting something off which was assembled when the engine was not fitted can be a royal arse pain, I usuaully find a selection of tools gets me out of most fixes, most....

Car is metric - some of the suspension bolts are imperial threads (unfs mainly) but I've never used an imperial tool on the car that I can think of.

You have a lathe, have I ever told you how much of a nice chap you are ?

:D

LOL lathes are well handy - I lost mine from work so if you ever need to earn any money on the side lemme know - I'm always in need of stuff being turned up !

All hydraulics leak - rule #1

I have 2 Esprits and the main leaks I get are from the younger car for some reason.

It shouldn't leak from the engine underneath, gearboxes are common as long as they dont leak too much (check the level). My GT3 has a slow leak from both oil seals and the mating face of the gearbox itself and loses possibly an egg cup of oil every year - it's un-noticable on the level but it does leak. Not worth the fix yet-a-while.

The other source of leaks is the sparking plug wells - most I have see do it, this is from the cam towers (top and bottom seals) and the end seal to the cam shaft which drips nicely onto the red hot turbo !

A lot of the oil inside the car's engine bay is normal - overfilling will expell oil from the dipstick tube and so on.

Dont tempt me with the Elise !

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Good to know - thanks both!Hopefully I'm on the 'engineer' side of things - I investigate Tornado GR4 and F3 faults for a living :D

Lathe is small but perfectly formed - mostly! Its a 1940's Drummond M type

I'm still learing, but basic stuff is fine, just need to move all the bits of old Porsche out of the way to get to it!

I wanted to talk to some owners as all I seem to get from everywhere is the standard Lots of Trouble etc,etc

But having seen a few articles on actually working on Esprits it doesn't look too bad just cramped access and removing lots of things for access.

Point taken on the spanner slection! I'll start raiding autojumbles for sacrificial spanners for modifying!

Not even properly advertised the Elise and I'm getting excited about an Esprit...

Elise has been great fun but I want something a bit more 'dramatic'

Sure you don't want my Elise - it's got a couple of scratches but it's got loads of sensible go faster bits and it's mechanically sorted...

It'll have a new MOT, cambelt and service in a couple weeks ready for sale too.:welcome:

From a couple of years back but it's handy:

post-10597-047568000 1276782174.jpg

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If you need a hand fault finding on the Tornado's I'll offer to steer!

Cool plane :D

200709raf-tornado-2.jpg

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Bought an '88 turbo for £6k, knowing it needed work doing to it. I've probably spent £3k over the last couple of years & although it's still not there, it's great to be able to fiddle! So £10k sounds like a reasonable budget to me.

I'm not a mechanic, & I don't have Bibs' tool kit, but the thing I like most about the car is it's comparatively easy to fiddle with. There's not a whole load of "black boxes" & there's so much help available from everyone on this forum.

Might have a problem with rattles & squeeks though, the bodywork flexes, so it's constant (but little) maintenance to keep on top of them.

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Good news - I want a tinkering project with loads of little jobs to steadily improve the car - rattle hunting keeps me amused for hours!

I was in the RAF for a few years and my last job was on the F3 training squadron in St Andrews and in my last week I got a back seat trip. Why we pay the aircrew I don't know!

Supersonic was disapointingly undramatic (things arrived rather quick though!) but the power of the thing is mental, quiet and smooth inside it too. Did the Great Glen in about 12 mins from one end to the other....:welcome:

Anyway I'm glad to hear I'm not being too silly looking for Esprits so I'm going to spend the weekend tidying up the Elise, sorting the niggly bits and getting some decent piccies up for an advert.

Then I get to go shopping for Esprits! :D

Another quick question - are Esprits reasonable on long trips?

I'm a bit mutton and SWMBO can sleep in the Elise so it doesn't really matter too much but what is the cabin noise like? Comfortable seats? Driving position?

Ta

Rich

Edited by Rich H

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Took an Elise out for a test drive not that long ago & had a whale of a time, but I couldn't help noticing when getting back into the Esprit how much more refined & comfortable it is.

Took it on a tour round Europe spending 6-7 hours on the road at a time on some days; always felt comfy - no aches or pains.

Can't really comment on wind noise, as with my hearing most places are quiet! but my wife hasn't commented so it can't be too bad.

Tall people sometimes seem to have problems with the driving position - I'm only 5'5" so it feels great.

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Used to work on Tornado equipment in Edinburgh for BAE systems, midlife update programs and all - what a small world :)

Looks almost identical to my old Elise, I miss it so...

I'm 5'11 and have no probs, if I push my arse back into the seat my head hits the roof but I've done many a long journey in Esprits without too much hassle.

Mild pain in the small of the back becuase I have to slouch ever so slightly.

Longest I did was 6.5 hrs with a 30min break with no ill effects....none a crate of Magners didn't solve anyways :D

Nice thing is the Esprit is very good cruiser - it is a GT car in all essence, good lugage space too.

Sadly I cannot take the Elise, I've been tre greedy in the past and as much as I adore the little buggy I simply haven't got the space of the extra cash to bribe the tax man with every 12 months.

My empire, at it's height :welcome: :

1444634496_0488348d40_b.jpg

Edited by Jonathan

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The plan is to sell the Elise, which I have owned for 5 years, and fund an Esprit Turbo SE if I can find one I like...

Am I being realistic: My budget will be around £10k for the Esprit...

I've checked insurance and it's £200 over the Elise, which I can live with...

Hi there,

I did EXACTLY the opposite of you and sold an Esprit SE to get a S1 111s Elise!

calender-pose.JPG

rsz_1side-111s.jpg

You are being very realistic and should have no problem finding a good car in the £10k budget range. I actually p-exed with another owner my Esprit for his Elise and the value of the two cars meant cash actually went his way! Current ads for good S1 Elises reach price levels higher than early stevens Esprits so you might be lucky enough to have a bit of cashback for the odd job that will need doing on any esprit post purchase.

Ten years of esprit ownership and not one breakdown, they always got me home. The elise (in it's second year with me now) has to live up to that. This is down to a 'do what needs doing or will need doing' approach to maitenance that (as i don't do my own work) cost me a lot but it was worth it. Sounds like you will do a lot of work yourself, thats good as your bills will be way less than mine, half of mine were labour. It's not that i could not do stuff, but it's that i'm on the tools all week and i just wanted a jump in and go reward for it waiting for me, not more work!

Like i said, you do the work yourself and it will be cheaper than you think.

:welcome:

My elise was £160 MORE than the esprit to insure, so shop around! My SE was £222 and the elise was £380, i guess people don't go bashing the corners off esprits every weekend so less risk?

Have heard my old Esprit might be back on the market soon, it had a full respray and the interior done by the guy i sold it too so is better than when i owned it. Look out for it, it's a great car and very fast.

:D

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Nice one cheers all! Shouldn't get excited yet still got to shift the liz...

I now like my GTs - I discovered the Porsche will do 650 miles on a fill on a god run but it's a bit of a crude lump (Yes its the van engine!) swift enough but all a bit frantic though!

My insurance is a little bit steeper than that! Elsie is £550 Esprit will be £730odd. 31, Clean license, 6 yrs NCB but kept in Preston<_<

But hey ho...Insurance is with CCI who knocked £100 off on the Elise too.

So then anyone fancy a swap then? :D

Rich

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I'll plug now since you're new, join up as a full forum supporter and you'll be more attractive to ladies and also receive up to 15% off with some insurance companies. (10% with CCI, that's £73 saved, not bad for £20!)

You get tonnes of other benefits too, list is in here...

http://www.thelotusforums.com/forums/index.php/topic/34052-full-forum-member-accounts/

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Hi Rich,

You should sell the Porsche and keep the Elise and you can have twice the fun with and Esprit and an Elise, well I do anyway :welcome:. There's plenty of SE's about I think they were one of the highest production numbers of all the Esprits. Don't forget there's no power steering on the SE, so it is a tad heavier than the Elise. You'll need an S4 if you want mod cons like power steering and abs, but personally I'd rather get the full feel from the Steering and Brakes as you do on the SE. Although you will ultimately want to upgrade the front brakes to get more predictable stopping power.

Martyn :D

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Rich,

Welcome and if I may. a few additions to a few of the answers you have already received.

One of the best tools I invested in quite honestly was a scissors lift. I had decided with two other exotics that I was never comfortable with the car being up on jack stands and it never seemed to be every quite high enough for what I was attempting to do. As for regular tools Jonathan is pretty much spot on. Though I have discovered that a Video Scope has come in quite handy and a metre long flexible pickup tool with a light at the end is extremely useful. As it seems you always drop that last screw in the recesses of the engine bay. I have a few other special tools for the gearbox drain plug. Also a full electrical kit is also handy. Dave Freeman ( Full Forum Member on here ) had one of the best garages set up I have seen as of yet. He had spare Stainless Steel Adel clamps in various sizes. Amazing how handy they come in. Also a set of long straight drift punches are a must.

One thing that I wish I had known about on my search was the Freescan USB cable ( available in TLF online shop ). Running Freescan and Espritmon on the car prior to purchasing would have revealed several issues to me that stayed hidden until I ran them at a later date. I could have used the information to renegotiate a price from my broker. Well worth it anyhow to have that after you own the car as well.

As for driving, I am a shade over 6 feet tall. I just installed the glass roof panel to allow me a bit more headroom. But even with the original composite roof panel I was comfortable. On long distance, and I have driven mine for 14 hours non stop except to fuel and eat, you will find the car extremely comfortable. Though in your case the area for the clutch foot has more of an issue than it does here in the States. One thing I did find after driving for that amount of time was this: Glad to hear the peace and quiet. With the engine and exhaust note blaring behind your head for hundreds and hundreds of miles it is nice to have it switched off...lol...if even for a bit.

Except for an issue with a deer and the Lotus dealer doing the repairs I can say that my Esprit had never left me on the soft shoulder waiting for the recovery truck.

Once again welcome Rich and the best of luck in your search.

Christopher

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Another quick question - are Esprits reasonable on long trips?

I'm a bit mutton and SWMBO can sleep in the Elise so it doesn't really matter too much but what is the cabin noise like? Comfortable seats? Driving position?

Forgot to comment on that question.

:)

Having done thousands of miles in each, The Esprit is as comfy and quiet as a bentley compared to the Elise.

You can be doing 100mph in the Esprit, even decatted with a sports exhaust, and be totally comfortable in it's cosy seats, able to hear the stereo, the sat nav, your passenger. Sat in cosy leatherclad air conditioned luxury.

:comp:

In the S1 Elise with sports cat and larini it's like being in a drum, a drum being pounded with a pair of maracas. You can't hear anything, the stereo is pointless, the sat nav inaudable, the passengers shouting reduced to lip reading and the hard thin seat thumping your spine and vibrating you head so hard you feel sick when you get out after a three hour drive, with a sweat soaked back, and mild shellshock, unable to see colours, sounds or shapes.

:D

You have my permission to put all that in your Elises for sale ad BTW.

:welcome:

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Try Classicline for insurance - they are consistantly the lowest provider I have found over the past 5 years with all my Lotus's.

Never paid more than £400 on the Esprit even with my history... :D

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Wow thanks for all the positive comments guys :D

I might have a bit of a dilemma... Its a bit of good news bad news and it might come to nought or I might run away screaming...

A guy on one of the other forums I frequent knows a chap who has an Esprit and may well be interested doing a swap. He was a while back apparently.

He is going to call me tomorrow and talk about the options.

It's an S4 1995 but it's been off the road for 2 years.

So cash additions to my car aside (Might be a killer straight away) is it worth even considering?

I'm thinking minimum full service, cambelt, aux belts anything else I should be thinking of? Tyres possibly too I suppose.

I'm thinking thanks but no thanks but I'm prepared to keep an open mind.

Worth a closer look or not?

Thanks

Rich

Pants phone piccy

DSC00115.jpg

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Push for a straight swap with no cash either way?

:D

I figure £7-£10k for a good non vvc S1 Elise now and £10-£14k for an S4 Esprit.

If the S4 needs a minimum of full service, cambelt, aux belts, Tyres and maybe some caliper work and an aircon recharge, new battery etc, PLUS the fact it's been off road for ages, then when you take the possible cost of all that away it gets things very level, and if the S4 turns out to need more (eg rusted fuel tanks, cracked exhaust manifold, both very common) then it might mean that your car + the work needed is actually more than a running S4.

Get an inspection maybe?

Is this Lisa's old car anyone?

:welcome:

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Could be Kimbers old car, not heard from James for a long time now.

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Again many thanks for the advice - it's one of those gamble/no gamble at the end of the day it's potentially a bargain but it's jsut as easily a nightmare...

It's in the Scottish borders if that helps and hopefully I'll have more details tonight.

My Elise is up for £8500 so I was allowing around £3k ish over that for the Esprit.

I'm not that keen on buying effectively a non-runner with no tax/mot (It does run and everything works apparently) but it's had a manifold apparently.

I was thinking if I could get a near straight swap then throw it at a specialist to do the work intially belts/tyres/MOT so I have a good place to start, but clearly this could end up costing more than a runner....

Clearly looking for evidence it's been looked after previously too.

An inspection would be good, is it worth getting AA/RAC to do it or is a specialist's job?

I know they are normally a waste of time on the Elises as they aren't familiar with their quirks.

What is the life on a cambelt? is it 4 years/ 20k miles?

Suppose I'll have to wait and see if he calls.

Trying not to get over excited and to buy with my head.... not sure it's going to work (Never has before) but I promise I'll try...:welcome:

Otherwise I'll get this Elise sorted and advertised

Anyone up in the NW fancy letting me have a look round their car?

Ta

Rich

Oh and I'll join up soon :D

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Rich

The SE that PaulC mentions, that I swapped my S1 Elise for, I sold on about 10 months ago after I had it completely resprayed to an incredibly high standard. I also made some other improvements in terms of HiSpec brakes, Larini twin exit exhaust, S4 wheels. It was a stunning car. It was on display at Donnington in 2009, and I am sure that those who saw it there will vouch for that.

I understand the new owner is looking to move it on because of a shoulder injury that means he can't drive it because of the absence of power steering. It has done about 65k miles and has been maintained to the highest standard imaginable. I think it would be about the money you're are talking. I can make some enquiries if you are interested.

Robert

post-5375-049662400 1276848071.jpg

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Sounds lovely so interested yes - but I'm going to have to shift the Elise first...

Mostly because SWMBO says I'm not allowed another car...

While I can sleep in the car and can't drive the house, I find the lack of kitchen and bathroom inconvinent... :D

I'm hoping with a new service, cambelt and MOT (+ Tax I suppose may as well) the Elise will be an attractive sale for someone but you never know...

Cheers

Rich

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