SwissV8

After 8yrs of Esprit ownership

21 posts in this topic

After nearly 8 years of Esprit V8 ownership, the time has finally come to move on… and I have to say I'm sad, really sad :(

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It seems that Esprit ownership is different for everybody. Some live a nightmare, while other live their dream. There are many lemons out there, but there are also many outstanding cars… and mine was, and still is, simply outstanding.

So before my Esprit and I part company, I wanted to provide the community (and potential future owners) some reflections on the last eight years of Esprit ownership.

First, the facts:

I bought my Esprit in summer 2005, with about 8,000 kms on the clock. It's a 2002 model V8 in spice yellow, and was as new when I purchased. The deal was organized though my local Lotus specialist (Schaffner Racing), but I effectively bought the car from the previous (1st) owner. In all eight years of ownership, every bit of work (except 1 job) was done by that specialist, and they have been brilliant. The 1 job that was not done by Schaffner was done at Hethel (a minor service) while visiting for one of the TLF factory days. The car now has almost 24,000 kms, and has always been serviced as per the recommendations of Schaffner. Due to the relatively low number of kms covered in some years, the car was not serviced every year, but again, this was always following the advice of the Lotus specialist.

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Now the ownership experience:

Anyone considering buying an Esprit will have first done their homework (or should have), and will be aware that the Esprit has a number of common problems, and needs to be looked after correctly. Everything you read will tell you to keep your eyes and ears open. If you see, hear or experience anything out of the ordinary, be prepared to investigate. Catch issues early, and it can save some major headaches (and empty pockets). This is all true, and meant that, when purchasing my Esprit, I was really prepared for a lot of problems, and a potentially unreliable car.

Maybe it was good that I was prepared for the worst, because it meant that my actual ownership experience was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. Nothing went wrong, nothing (should I repeat that again?), and the Esprit never let me down, not once! Ok, it ran out of fuel once, but that doesn't really count :)

Whenever I knew the car would not be used for a while, I disconnected the battery. Sometimes over winter the car would remain unused for 4 or 5 months at a time. Yet, every time I reconnected the battery, the car started perfectly, 1st turn of the key. I once got a dash warning light, indicating that the ECU had detected a problem. After reading down the error code, and enquiring on this forum and with Lotus, I found that the ECU just needed a recalibration of some sensors. The recalibration was simple enough, involving driving at fixed RPMs while the sensors re-learned certain values. But that was it, that was the biggest issue I ever encountered. Remember that this is an Esprit, this is a Lotus, this is a car that so many claim to be totally unreliable, poorly built, and expensive to own (more on this later).

Let's put this into context. Before the Esprit, I owned a Merc 500 SL, also a 2002 model and also with 8,000 kms on the clock when I bought it (it was 2 years old at the time). I only kept the Merc for 1 year, and why? During that year I covered about 8,000 kms, and the car had to be returned to Merc 13 times for issues, ranging from trim falling off, to electric seats moving to the fully forward position and staying there, to the keyless-entry system letting me into the car but then refusing to allow me to start it. The list of problems seemed endless, and this was from a top-level Merc, supposedly one of the best quality cars in the world.

The rest of the experience was just as positive. The car was brilliant to drive when out to have some fun, the looks are (to my eye) one of the most stunning designs ever to grace the automotive world, the community is both extremely helpful and knowledgable (and also fun if you ever get the chance to go to any of the meets or factory tours), and the public feedback was always one of interest and admiration. I've never owned any other car that made me smile every time I saw it in my garage!

The car was even fairly practical, for a supercar! More than once I drove from Zürich to Cardiff, and back via Hethel. Always in comfort and style, and always without issue.

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What about the cost of ownership?

This one is a little trickier to put into context, as I live in Switzerland (probably one of the most expensive countries on Earth right now), and any figures I can offer will be in Swiss Francs (CHF). However, let me give it a try.

Instead of using exchange rates, which varied greatly over my 8 year experience, let me use the following as a basis for putting costs into perspective:

- The average amount I paid for a minor service was 900 CHF

Some services included recharging the aircon, or similar minor jobs, but that was the average.

Now, for me to offer a "total cost of ownership", I'll add up all the bills for work done to the car in the eight years of ownership (I have them all filed in the extensive service history folder!). I will include any parts that needed to be replaced, all regular servicing, and all other bills for "unexpected" work (such as when I scratched my rear wheel and needed to have it refurbished). I'll exclude the cost of all modifications, as these are a personal thing, and are certainly not necessary. I'll also exclude fuel and insurance as again, these are variable by owner. Keep in mind that my Esprit has always received the very best of care, never neglected, and Schaffner tell me that in their view it is probably the best example of the Esprit in Switzerland today.

So here goes:

- The "total cost of ownership" (as defined above) for 8 years of Esprit ownership was 22,500 CHF

Maybe you think that sounds like a lot… well, here's the killer - that cost also includes depreciation! I've already sorted the sale of the car, so I know exactly how much depreciation I need to swallow, and it's included in that total cost of ownership.

Again, let's put that into context. That lovely Merc I mentioned above - when I finally managed to get rid of it after the one year of ownership, I lost close to 50,000 CHF just on the depreciation! That's more than twice what the Esprit cost, and I owned the Esprit for 8 years compared to 1 year for the Merc.

Now, would anyone like to try to tell me that a Lotus is unreliable, or expensive to own? Ok, as mentioned earlier, this is just my experience, and I know there are many out there who have a totally different story to tell. But for me, the Esprit will always be remembered as the best car I have ever owned (so far at least), and certainly the most enjoyable.

So finally, why have I sold it?

Well, to me one of the biggest up-sides of the Esprit is its character. It is a true supercar, old-school style. It looks stunning, it is incredibly quick, it sticks two fingers up to the latest creature comforts, and it's so low that you cr*p yourself whenever you have to go over those nasty traffic calming speed bump things. These things I love because it means that you need to be a true enthusiast to put up with them. But for me, this also became the biggest down side. The 70's ergonomics and fairly weak climate control meant that you cook in the strong sun (quite common here in Switzerland), and that's exactly when you want to take it out to play. Also, the low front spoiler, and the need to have plenty of space when parking (so you can fully open the doors when getting in or out) also mean that you hesitate to take the Esprit when going places you may not know so well. Now, these are all fairly small niggles, but over 8 years they start do take a toll on a relationship (a bit like the small niggles do over years with a girlfriend :) ).

And the final nail in the coffin - she's called Evora S :), and she arrives next week.

I love my cars, and given unlimited time, space and budget, I would own a collection. But back in the real world, I can't justify more than one Lotus in the garage. It's time to move on. It's time to try the latest and greatest that Hethel has to offer, and it's time to give someone else a chance to own this outstanding example of Britains' finest supercar.

The big question for me now is, can the Evora fill to the huge shoes the Esprit leaves behind?

Rob

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Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.

Nice pictures. :thumbsup:

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Good write up and pics Rob.

Enjoy your new Evora S. :thumbsup:

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Well its sad to.see you leave the ownership of an esprit, but good news your still in the brand....its more intersting and good to hear youve had a wonderful life with her too. There are so many sob stories of ownerships its refreshing to hear a positive one. As with yourself, mine has not ever let me down. The only real issue I had was it came with a faulty ecu when I bought it meaning it was over fuelling. Apart.from that shes as reliable as can be. I try to avoid the shopping runs in her because of.all the stupid speed bumps around here...but thate the only reason! Suprisingly the.boot.can carry a fair amount!

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Mines the same. I had it serviced/MOT last month. In the 12 months since last years and having covered around 7k miles all I have done is put two new rear tyres on it. That's it. It has never let me down in 4 years of ownership and I can only echo the comments above.

That's not stopped me buying up spares on eBay, TLF and Pistonheads when they crop up. You just never know.....

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The Evora has a lot to live up to. I agree about the ergonomics etc, but I have driven an Exige S and an Evora and found the Esprit to be more my sort of car. In a word Drama. Not because of any problems, but the presecence and whole Esprit experience.

Keep us posted on how things go....

May well be passing through CH later this year in my esprit...

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Hey Rob. I remember the day you came and celebrated with us at the TLF factory day and you drove all the way (Kudos). Its a real shame to see her going but I am totally heartened that you have stayed loyal to the brand and bought another Lotus.

When I sold my Exige I struggled to find anything that I wanted except for an Evora. I am still saving up for one now.

Good luck bud and let us know how you get on with the new Baby!......Yellow I assume?

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Suprisingly the.boot.can carry a fair amount!

Absolutely true (both the surprise and the boot size). Both visits to th UK were for a week each time, luggage for two people. No problem fitting it all in, which is really not bad for a supercar!

That's not stopped me buying up spares on eBay, TLF and Pistonheads when they crop up. You just never know.....

That's the thing. All the negative comments really prepare you for the worst. Every time I took the Esprit out, I made sure I had a phone and some cash, just in case something went wrong. Totally unnecessary!

In a word Drama. Not because of any problems, but the presecence and whole Esprit experience.

I know exactly what you mean. A few weeks ago I put up a post about how the Esprit feels quicker than the Evora S, even though on paper the stats are pretty much identical. General consensus was that the Evora is more refined, and the turbos on the Esprit really do provide the drama...... That's definitely something I'll miss :(

Good luck bud and let us know how you get on with the new Baby!......Yellow I assume?

Hey there Kimbers, I've started a thread in the Evora section, and I'll post up some piccies as soon as I get back from my one week honeymoon with the Evora :)

Sorry to disappoint though, I decided that I preferred the Evora in darker colours, so went for Sienna Brown.... and it looks great, to me at least!

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Hi Rob,

Saw your Esprit pop up on Autoscout the other day. Looks fantastic.Great write up. Top Pics.

I have to say in over 12 years living in Switzerland I've never seen another Esprit on the road here.

Always had the same great response from the public with mine too. People have no idea what it is and ask all kinds of crazy questions.

You can unfortunatly see mine on Autoscout too. Not sure about the market for a RHD GT3 in Switzerland, but we'll soon see! An Exige S 240 will most likely fill it's place.

cheers from Baden,

Andy

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Hey Andy, thanks for the comments. Your GT3 looks great in the piccies. Pity your selling, but at least you're sticking with Lotus :)

Good luck with the sale!

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Best of luck with the new Evora. Whilst the Evora has come pretty close to a great replacement for the Esprit - I am still in love with that angular shape! It would be brilliant however to have the extra refinement from the Evora.

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I took the Esprit in for its service and MOT, I was given an Evora S to play with for the day, While it was to fun drive, the comfort levels were good and I could just about fit the wife and daughter in the car I did'nt get that I need one of these feelings from it. The Esprit makes me smile every time I drive it. I don't think I'll be selling any time soon. Great write up,Good luck with the new car.

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Only 24,000 kms in 8 years? I'm sorry but that's hardly using it really, is it???

I've done over 54K miles in my GT3 in 10 years. Bearing in mind that for 7 of those years, I was only allowed back in the country for 3 months of the year and it was in the garage for 6 months after being in a prang. I've spent over £25k on the car too!

Broken down all over Europe, mainly for silly things.

Now that's an Esprit experience! :smoke:

By the way, the Esprit is a great GT car. She'll sit on the motorway at over 100 mph all day!

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Hi Rob,

This was a wonderful write up, with beautiful pictures to boot. The decision to sell the Esprit and buy a new Evora must've been a tough one, and I hope it has worked out: I'll troll the Evora section to find out :) ... 'cause the idea of a new Evora certainly tempts me from time to time.

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Only 24,000 kms in 8 years? I'm sorry but that's hardly using it really, is it???..

By the way, the Esprit is a great GT car. She'll sit on the motorway at over 100 mph all day!

that's so right ;)

up to now around 95.000km in 10years -with three years of full use (road & track) one year of full stop (as for engine work) and now for the last 7 years it was only one of at least two fully registered cars in the pool

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Hi Rob,

This was a wonderful write up, with beautiful pictures to boot. The decision to sell the Esprit and buy a new Evora must've been a tough one, and I hope it has worked out: I'll troll the Evora section to find out :) ... 'cause the idea of a new Evora certainly tempts me from time to time.

Talking about tough decisions. That's why I will keep my TurboEsprit forever. ;)

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Hi Rob, I see in your profile that your last post here was about a year ago, hope you still enjoy a Lotus.

Happy to say your Esprit has a new home, my brother bought it from Schaffner Racing last year.

The only picture I can find is this one, hidden behind my Exige at the 'Fantastic Plastic' Car Meeting in Lucerne/Switzerland: 

What a great looking, stunning car, such fun to drive and yes, I can confirm the 'Drama' in driving an Esprit B-) 

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Lovely car Rob.. hope you dont regret selling. Have you got the Evora yet? how does it compare?

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I think Rob is not in the forum anymore. Last thing I heard was he was selling his Evora (it sat at my Lotus Dealer/workshop in Switzerland) and Rob was going back to UK (?)

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Too bad Rob suffered with an A/C system in disrepair for 8 years.  The V8 esprit A/C is excellent when functioning properly, and that's coming from someone in Houston, which is saying a lot.  He probably did not have the right weight of refrigerant in the system as this system is extremely sensitive to the right weight.

And too bad he didn't switch to the earlier front spoiler like many do for more ground clearance.  That makes a big difference.  I rarely rub on anything with my 98 spoiler, and if I do, it doesn't cause a paint shop event like his.

Those were 2 of his biggest annoyances with the car that could have easily been addressed. 

 

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Living not all that far from Houston, I can confirm Phil's assessment of the V8 A/C. Took the car out just today, with ambient temp at 100F. Kept me cool as a frozen margarita. Always has for 8 summers now. And the compact cabin makes for rapid cool down from initial entry.:)

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