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Tim Shaw's old S4 - Bargain / Money Pit

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So Tim's old S4 is back on the market for not allot of cash and I'm considering taking a look. 


I've done some research on this forum and understand the paint job isn't up to scratch, it's cat C, there's the interior and while I love the V8's I want an S4 to look like an S4. 


All of this asside it does look like a bit of a bargain and using man maths I can justify fulfilling a childhood dream for the price of a decent Boxter S. 


To my mind a decent S4 is going to be at least 12-14k, if I can buy this one for 8ish then that leaves 5k for a new paint job and getting it a bit more original.


My real concern are the internals of the car, from the advert on Piston Heads it sounds like it has had allot of work done and is fairly solid. 


Does anyone know about it's recent history and if it's likely to be throwing any big bills at me any time soon?

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Whilst I don't know this car - I can tell you that you should definitely check several Esprits out before taking the plunge. You'll need to do it quickly - as good examples do not hang around for very long. Don't be ruled by your heart. Check the standard Esprit issues out and drive a few - with relevant insurance cover of course!


Please do not make the mistake I have made before - spending up to my limit and then being heartbroken when a big bill quickly followed. It normally happens. The car being 20 years old is likely to need something or other doing - keep that in mind and have a contingency of £1000 kicking about - just in case.


I looked round 4 cars - some cheap - some expensive. Don't be taken in by "unique" features or ownership - mine has an almost unique factory purple colour. I've only seen one other (in the USA). Does it make it "special"? To me yes - to you - probably not. All Esprits are hand-made they all have "unique" differences - some good - some not. It was mainly down to what Lotus had to hand at the point the car was put together. There are really only a few desirable Esprits and they are priced accordingly.


Also - bear in mind that an insurance CAT C or D will always be just that - and will only ever attract 25% to 30% less than its competition. But if you are buying it to keep - no problem.


When I bought my S3 - I paid £7500 - all of my money at the time. I loved the car - but it probably cost me another £6000 over 6 years and was nowhere near concourse when I sold it (for the same money I paid for it). In hindisght - I should have saved for longer and got a better car to start with. Poor Gerald nearly had a seizure when he found things like - bits of hosepipe used as bushes for the gear linkage and other wonderful things that had just been left.


A good history is important. The most important thing is that it has had a cambelt change - if not - it will need to be done - and that ain't cheap (unless you DIY) other things - ABS - but I think that has been replaced. Check the aircon - it can be costly - like mine - if it doesn't work - because again everything needs to come out to replace the front end aircon components. Check the wipers work properly - mine didn't and it cost the best part of £800 to repair - as an Esprit is built around the wiper assembly.


All of this is before the "pretty stuff" - seats costs around 3-£400 to re-conolise each.


Having said all of that - none of this will matter if you have (as I have before) put the rose tinted glasses on and imagined yourself driving the orange beast. Cost will go out of the window and you will use "man optimism" to convince yourself that nothing will go wrong. My advice would be to also look at the £13k blue example - that looks original and "sorted" in the Midlands.


Finally - make sure you know who your local support group or specialist is - we all need them every now and again!

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I saw that advertised and initial thoughts were that it was well priced. On considering it more carefully I think it's too far from standard with poor history and a poor colour combo. By the time you respray at a minimum of £3k for a half decent job and a couple of jobs that are bound to crop up, you will have spent what it costs to buy an original accident free car.


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HI all,



To clear things up, Martin who bought this car had it resprayed to orange and I've seen it on the flesh, it's a good job and no need for a respray. The earlier reports about a poor paint job is when the car was a black with two tone fleck paint. Back then, each panel was different and some were very flat. Since Martin owned it, he has done a lot to get it upto scratch. Well worth buying if you are going to keep it and like tinkering with cars. Don't buy if you intend to sell in a year or so because of CAT D and CAT C values. It's priced right if on the slightly cheaper side but by no means a bargain.

I once bought a mint black S4 with FSH and low mileage for similar money, they are hard to find now and prices have risen. A good S4 now is about £12-15K.

If I were to buy this car, I would keep the exterior colour and paint the wheels silver or a lighter colour than they are now. I would also dye the red leather black which is relatively easy. See my guide here

You can do all these at a really low cost. The dye kit will cost you about £50-60 and paint for wheels about £30/each even getting a bodyshop to do it.

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My old car............I p/ex this to a dealer in June this year after 3 years of fun and lots of cash, the car was in very good shape mechanically and although it was "recorded" the body had been very well repaired from minor damage, as dave says the paint was very good although not to everyones colour was how I wanted it !! I dont know what it has gone through in the last 6 months but I doubt if it is in any worse state, if anything I think it will be better as the last owner had some paintwirk done to repair stone chips and rabbit damage to valance, I know because the body shop rang me to check the paint codes! At the end of the day you pays your money and takes a chance on any older car with history of repairs and rebuilds/modifications or you pay top money for a totally original car with perfect service history and low miles and could still find that lack of use requires a fortune spending to bring back to perfect. All this could be talked over for days on here but it is all irrelivent as the car is now SOLD and living in Scotland, I know as I spoke to the new owner last night after he had driven the car home in the snow! He sounded "over the moon" with his new toy and was aware of a few jobs needing some work but as he has been a "LOTUS" man for many years it is only what he expected, I have offered to help in any way I can if he comes across any non standard issues that I may be aware of as on several occasions myself I had to find faults and trace non standard wiring and I was responsible for several modifications myself. I have already reccomended he ask on here for this space!!!!!!!!!

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