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Considering an Esprit - Enthusiast Advice Requested


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I have wanted an Esprit since playing on Lotus Esprit Turbo Challange on the Amiga as a kid, I saw one in the flesh driving up the M23 a couple of years ago and nearly crashed as I wasn't able to take my eyes off it. I started scanning the classifieds as soon as I got home.

 

I was suprised at how close they were to affordable, still an amount of money my friends would think was insane to spend on a car (well most anyway) but possible.

 

Cue much lurking here and reading everything I could get my hands on about them.

 

From what I have read so far I'm thinking a GT3 is the best fit for my requirements and budget. I have around 13k to spend on the car and wouldn't want to spend more than 2k a year on maintenance.

 

From what I can tell decent S4's and GT3's can be had for 13/14k privately while dealers and those who don't mind waiting for a sale go more for 15/16k. 

 

While I might consider an SE or an S4 the GT3 sounds like the most reliable option as much of the advice has been to get the latest car possible. The interior on the GT3 is also much prefferable to the older cars.

 

 

That's my thinking so far. Though I've got a few questions.

 

Will the GT3 be noticeably slower than the S4, how do they compare as driving experiences?

 

What kind of budget should I set asside for running a GT3 / S4 Esprit? I've read 1k-2k a year but much more if not looked after.  

 

Do any members leave theirs parked outside? Relativly quiet street but seriously considering renting a garage even if it is £100 a month in Brighton....

 

What sort of attention does an esprit get, I'm only used to driving an innocuous MX5. Is it a hassle in town with boy racers, how paranoid will I need to be leaving it around? Worried about it getting keyed / vandalised.     

 

How practical is it as an only car? It won't be used for commuting but super market shopping / road trips etc.

 

 

Cheers

 

Steve

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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Get access to a garage for your own peace of mind, and make sure it's big enough to get out of! Be prepared to fall in love with it even more after purchase, to the extent that you'll spend more th

Lol, I wonder how many arcade games are responsible for our car purchases! I bought my Black Porsche 928 S2 after playing ChaseHQ in the arcades when I was younger. I'm still saving for my bri

Please don't say you liked that 

Based on my experiences from the last 18 months:

 

Know what you're buying and why you're buying (it might seem to be obvious at first but bear with me..) - I bought a totally stock Turbo SE as a first Esprit just to figure what ownership was like. That was the plan. This has turned into what is going to become a full blown restoration. The maintenance figures for 1-2k a year don't add up. I've spent over 5 since last year. In other words, it helps if you don't have a rigid financial limit and just "go with it". I do understand how fiscally irresponsible this sounds.

 

If you buy an "ok" car and then get the itch to go submit it at car shows, this'll be a pain and it might trigger the above restoration costs. :)

 

I wouldn't leave mine on the street because it'll be subject to some kind of abuse sooner or later (i.e. set on fire), although other owners might disagree with me (that's another point, if you need to hire a garage, there's another 1-2k a year gone).

 

The car gets a lot of attention - likely more than an MX5. You'll feel like a king driving it, but the awareness of other ppl looking at you all the time will wear off along with any discomfort that might entail.

 

In the UK it actually seems to be used as an only car based on many of the classifieds out there so I'm guessing it's perfectly fine - boot space is more than decent on the 4-pots, driving in traffic is no problem, visibility is top notch. Drawback if you end up with an SE without power steering though. That CAN be a pain and might be more annoying if every day.

 

I'll leave the GT3 specific points to many of the owners around here.

 

One final piece of advice: If buying from a dealer - try and go to the tried and true Lotus sellers like Barry Ely etc. I bought mine from a different dealer and had a nightmare because of the workshop that prepped the car beforehand. They did a lot of dirty things and almost screwed up my entire car. They then together refused me any compensation. I will never buy from a dealer again for this reason - they simply HAVE to turn a profit, at any rate, under any circumstances.

 

A private owner on the other hand should be able to tell you everything about the car and its foibles, any issues it has had etc. The receipts and notes should prove it. Try and find one from an owner who knows what he is on about and has worked on it himself. Better yet, take another Esprit owner with you to look at the car. It'll be hard to walk away even if you sense something is a bit off - so having someone else there to confirm suspicions always helps.

 

The above probably sounds like a nightmare, but I can't imagine life without an Esprit since buying it, so everything is worth it. I'm not kidding when I say that EVERY TIME I walk into the garage/out onto the street/wherever the Esprit is, I remember EXACTLY why I bought one, which makes me feel like the happiest guy on Earth (and I'm a cranky bastard at the best of times).

 

Best of luck!

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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Hi Steve

 

A GT3 is pretty much as quick as the others in real terms. It's also pretty sharp in the handling dept and is one of the best Esprits (IME) in this respect. They're very reliable and on the whole, a loved and respected British car. That said, there are drunk idiots everywhere and perhaps a good outdoor cover will keep the green eyed monsters away. In my ownership of Esprits and running this site with thousands of Esprit owners I've only heard of 1 car being stolen and 1 or 2 at most cases of vandalism. That said, renting a garage is a good idea all the same. The car will be dry, secure, and you might offset a decent amount of the cost with your insurance. 

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

Evora NA

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Your thinking appears refreshingly sound for someone approaching ownership for the first time Steve. Your budget fits the  model and maintenance. I've rarely spent more than a few hundred a year on mine in servicing, but you will always get a "biggie" one year, like a clutch or belt change

 

I agree with your thinking, the later the car the better, and can confirm the GT3s are very well put together

 

It sounds like yours will be an only car? If so I can't comment as mine is a toy, but I hate to leave mine outside and prefer to leave it for high days and holidays. The car attracts an incredible amount of attention, luckily 99% positive. If garaged you will also be able to get classic insurance which is peanuts compared to the value and costs of repairs, and go some way the costs of a garage and an everyday banger!

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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Welcome Steve, I hope you soon find an Esprit to your liking and can enjoy it for a long time.

I got mine about 1.5 years ago. I chose an older SE (1990). Partly because of the price (no way I could have gotten a decent S4s for the same amount), but also because the added comfort/features/complexity of the later cars is not that appealing to me. I actually prefer it without power steering and ABS and have removed the airco as well. I did want the chargecooled engine (certainly wouldn’t mind the upgrades from the sport300/S4s either!) and the removable (glass) roof, so the SE was the logical choice. I must admit I find the S3 even prettier, but we all have to compromise.

I was never worried about getting an older car, and even preferred one with a higher mileage (94k miles when I got it) because this means the car was driven and thus maintained in a driving state instead of garaged with possible hidden problems.

First year I added about 5k miles and only expenses were to change the oil and filters, replace the bearings and overhaul the gear linkage along with an upgrade to a SS clutch hose (as much an upgraded as a needed replacement). I do everything myself, which greatly reduces expense, as most parts aren’t expensive at all.

You do attract a lot of attention (for example people taking pictures when parked outside a restaurant), but always positive. I can keep her inside overnight, but don’t mind parking around town when needed either. The paintwork isn’t perfect, so less of a worry anyway. I also take her to work regularly, through busy traffic, and to the shops. Even more attention there when splitting the groceries between the front and rear boot. IMHO you shouldn’t have much (if any) problems using an Esprit as a daily/only car.

After a year of happy ownership I decided to put some more work, and money, into her. Again mostly upgrades and sorting little things to enjoy the driving even more, now that I know she's a keeper.

 

Filip

I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.

 

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Thanks for the feedback guys, another big attraction for me is just how friendly and helpful the community is. Been blown away reading some of the offers of help and support I've read on the forum. I will definitely be coming along to some events!

 

Vanya: Sounds like your first year was an expensive one, though I'm guessing there was a fair bit of pampering involved along with the jobs which needed doing? I do have a limited budget but I'm certainly not expecting to be running one on a shoe string either. Fiscally irresponsible? Absolutely, but then you're going to have to be to buy an Esprit in the first place ;)   

 

Bibs: Firstly thanks for running such an great forum, I've managed to find answers to nearly all my questions on here already. It's good to know I won't be going into ownership alone and can always get some expert advice here. I've read in a few other places the GT3 is one of the best handling Esprit's, this along with the rather effective turbo make me think I'm not going left wanting on the performance front. Thanks for confirming :) Would be great to get a V8 with all that torque but the costs, extra maintenance and difficulty on actually working on the car have put me off (for now...). Coming from an MX5 I'm sure I'll be more than fine lol

 

Escape: The SE is still a serious consideration and if the right one came up I'd certainly be tempted. From what I understand the the SE is not that far from an S4 / GT3 as they didn't change that much between models and it was more of a slow evolution, in fact it's a bit faster than the GT3 and no slower than a S4. That said a few of the refinements are missing and living in a city I'd like to have power steering. 

 

How come you didn't go for an S3, thought they were the same kind of price as an SE if not a bit cheaper?

 

It will be a good few months before I'm in a position to buy but thought I'd drop by and say hi. Would ideally like to buy from an enthusiast so if anyone knows of an GT3 / S4 which might be in need of a loving new home do let me know!

 

Thanks again

 

Steve 

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Hi Steve, the best bit of advice I can give you is to contact Scott Gibb through this site, he runs an S3 as a daily driver and cant fault it.

 

John.

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Reliability-wise the chargecooler models are all about the same apart from the early Delco-Moraine ABS now having it's pressure switch unobtainable. Parking on the street isn't an issue if you live in a quiet area (and it only costs me £10 more to insure than being on the drive!). I haven't left mine in any dodgy areas but other than that I pretty much park all over the place. Make sure you drive a few Esprits before committing yourself, there are some real dogs out there. The first one I tried was an SE and it was terrible, wandering all over the place at motorways speeds. Good job the second one wasn't the same or I'd have bought something else. If you find a likely purchase see if anyone on the forum knows it's history or, even better, whether someone's local enough to have a nosy around it to see if they spot any issues.

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Do it! you wont regret it. This forum is invaluable for all things esprit related. The S3 is my car of choice so I cannot comment on the Gt3s specifics but am aware through hearsay that they are fantastic cars! they look great and any esprit gets a huge amount of attention esp on the road. With regard to keeping it outdoors, both mine live outside on a street in London, one on a drive the other on the road. ive never had any trouble regarding vandalism, only people posing for photos or admiring. The Car attracts nothing but good attention!

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Get access to a garage for your own peace of mind, and make sure it's big enough to get out of!

Be prepared to fall in love with it even more after purchase, to the extent that you'll spend more than you expect on replacements/upgrades.

Above all, and it's been said many times, don't buy the first one you go for. I bought the second one but it was still overly tatty for the price. I'm much wiser now.

Don't know about gt3s specifically but they're all special and they will make you smile every time. If it's the car you've always wanted you will not regret it!

And it was Turbo Esprit on the Spectrum that started me off so i must be a few years ahead of you!

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Be prepared to fall in love with it even more after purchase, to the extent that you'll spend more than you expect on replacements/upgrades.

 

 

This. Soooo true.

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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Lol, I wonder how many arcade games are responsible for our car purchases!

I bought my Black Porsche 928 S2 after playing ChaseHQ in the arcades when I was younger.

I'm still saving for my bright red Sega Outrun F355 :)

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1994 Lotus Esprit S4  &  2016 Tesla Model S P90D

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My advice would be to take someone with you who know's what they are doing (if you are unsure) - there are (as you will have seen) several things which often need sorting on these - e.g. fuel tanks. I drive an S3 and I love its nimbleness, sharp edged looks and comfort. - I regularly do large mileages in it (London - Edinburgh and back only a few weeks ago) - I have had bad luck with my engine but this was mainly due to a previous owner bodging and me not knowing enough about engines to notice (hence taking someone with you!) 

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Refreshing to have universal support for my plan :) Talking to a couple of lads from work down the pub tonight and one suggested joining a car club instead as a better option  :huh:

 

Fully with you on getting some one who knows their Esprits to come along and take a look with me, when I'm in a position to buy will be asking on here for some help choosing. Does anyone know an expert in the Brighton area who might be able to help with this? 

 

Heh, sounds like misspent youths playing computer games have allot to answer for, still, good to know there are others out there daft enough to follow their childhood dreams! 

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Nice car, low mileage and a good price... if I'd seen that advert a month ago before I bought my S4 things might have been different...

1994 Lotus Esprit S4  &  2016 Tesla Model S P90D

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She does look like exactly what I'm after, if a few grand over budget. In midst of house purchase so not going to be in a position to buy for a couple of months at least, longer if I have to come up with anything more than 12k.

 

No problem biding my time for the right one while saving up the pennies though.

 

Never know, she might still be about :)

 

Does anyone know what happned to the matt black GT3 which was up on e-bay a couple of months back?

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Steve, a lot of good advice given to you here, especially the taking someone who knows the Esprit with you. I, like many others, got stung and that was buying from a dealer. But that was 11 odd years ago, I'm wiser and know more about mechanics than I ever thought I would :) 

 

That brings me to my next point, will you be working on the car yourself? What you save on labour you'll spend on tools (to a lesser degree), which is no bad thing. What is better is that you'll obtain a second sense of what's going on - while changing gear I know I'm pushing hydraulic fluid, separating the clutch, moving gear cables in a select way. Same when braking, accelerating, steering, etc. It can make you a bit worrisome listening out for something wrong, but better to know. Some drivers are immune from this condition!

 

You mention the lack of power steering. It can be pain but only when parking, but as you know the key is to get car moving before steering and it's more than tolerable. It also puts the limp-wrist'ed other half off from driving it :).

 

If you are still looking for one by May next year, I'll be selling my SE. I've done so much work lately that'll be enjoying it for a bit before the power struggle in my head begins.

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Just to add, there's plenty of us with 4 bangers in spitting distance who I'm sure would help get you enthused in the flesh or check out any potentials.

 

Also of note mine lived outside, on a drive, in Worthing (so not far away), for nigh on 9 years, on a busy road and twice in the middle of the night did some scumbags hammer in the door locks and try to nick it.  It lives in a garage now.

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Please don't say you liked that  :X

 

Thought that I might get shot down for that lol Matt black paint jobs are divisive to say the least, I really liked it.

 

 

Will you be working on the car yourself? What you save on labour you'll spend on tools (to a lesser degree), which is no bad thing. What is better is that you'll obtain a second sense of what's going on.

 

If you are still looking for one by May next year, I'll be selling my SE. I've done so much work lately that'll be enjoying it for a bit before the power struggle in my head begins.

I want to learn to do as many of the jobs as possible, really enjoyed getting oily and figuring out how my MX5 went together. Only did some basic jobs brake pads / filters / fuses etc but keen to expand my skill set.   

 

Will keep an eye out for your SE if I'm still looking next year. Power steering isn't a deal breaker though be interesting to drive one to see how they feel. They are pretty light after all. 

 

 

Just to add, there's plenty of us with 4 bangers in spitting distance who I'm sure would help get you enthused in the flesh or check out any potentials.

 

Also of note mine lived outside, on a drive, in Worthing (so not far away), for nigh on 9 years, on a busy road and twice in the middle of the night did some scumbags hammer in the door locks and try to nick it.  It lives in a garage now.

 

Cheers mate, be great to catch up with some local enthusiasts. Got behind the wheel of one at a dealers last year but still not  been out for a drive in one yet!

 

Well it is Worthing ;) 

 

Seriously though, I think I'll end up garaging it. Want to avoid any scroates having a go at nicking it and as some one else mentioned I can offset the cost on what I save on insurance (or repairs if I got unlucky!).    

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I agree with everything said previously. I have an S4. Lovely car. This year has been expensive - C service - cambelt, manifold, rear shocks and coolant tank. For me - I wanted to get it to a base point - to know what has and hasn't been done.

 

My S4 currently lives outside - but I am getting a perambulator garage - much to my wife's horror! I just want it protected from the elements and also when I wash and clean her - I don't want my hard work ruined by dust within a day. I installed CCTV too.

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I have an S4 as well Steve and I love mine. It has been really good to me. No complaints at all. I don't know of the GT3 and have never seen one in the flesh so I'm not qualified to comment. Get whatever assistance you're offered from the guys on here.

 

Best of luck with it. :thumbup:

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.

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