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Buying Tips/Advice Wanted

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Hi guys!

I was bit by the Lotus bug many years ago. I finally got one in 2007, a '91 Elan M100, and I absolutely love it. I've put a lot into it, and really made it my own. However, I'm also the kind of guy who likes to replace my car pretty often. I don't know what it is, but I just don't like to drive the same car for too long, and the seven years I've driven the Elan makes it (by far) the longest I've driven the same vehicle in the 35 years I've been driving.

As a result, I'm getting back in the market for a replacement. I can't keep extra cars. Don't have the space or the money for that. Well, you know the old saying, "Once you go Lotus, you never go back," or something like that. Anyway, I'm fully Lotusified, so anything that doesn't have that badge on the nose doesn't cut it for me anymore. I'd love to move all the way up to an Evora (someday I will), but right now I don't have that kind of budget. I could probably get into an Elise, but I might have actual trouble getting into (and out of) an Elise. My back ain't what it used to be. So this brings me to the Esprit. I can probably go up to about $25,000, if I can find a car that won't have to be in the shop all the time (yes, I typed that with a straight face).

I'm watching the adverts now, and I'm pretty much seeing that it will be an Esprit of the 1990-1995 years, but it has to be one that's in good shape and will work to be a daily driver, or the price allows me to get it into that kind of condition.

I'm pretty good with M100s, but I know next to nothing about Esprits (except that they're badass, and make decent spy submarines). I don't see a link to any kind of buyer's guide here (there's one of those at lotuselancentral.com for M100s, if anybody is ever thinking about getting one), so I would really appreciate any advice or tips for the Esprit shopper, to help me avoid buying something that I will regret.

Here an example of the ones I've been watching. (I tried to put more than one example, but it wouldn't let me put in more links.)

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=39705&endYear=2015&sortBy=derivedpriceASC&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&makeCode1=LOTUS&searchRadius=0&maxPrice=30000&showcaseListingId=0&mmt=%5BLOTUS%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&listingId=354862829&Log=0

 

 

 

 

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Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.

I would personally look at the S4 (92 onwards). It has ABS, bigger footwells and power steering that the previous incarnations didn't.

 

Still had the same driveability though.

 

I would suggest that much is the same as on the M100, especially paint work wise. Stars and cracks may have developed into the body, not just the paint, so may be more expensive than just a respray. Oil leaks (quite common in all the Lotus 2.2's) are kept to minimum by regular driving so barn finds/cars not driven much can be much more expensive to run than cars with higher mileage, used regularly.

 

Smell of Petrol tends to be the pipes which is cheap and easy to do, likewise Chargecooler not working tends to be the Impellor and that's cheap to sort as well (I did these on my car). brake pipes were still steel so check for rust. Hopefully they have been replaced. Water ingress is quite common especially through the glass roof. You can find info on the pop up lights anywhere in the Esprit technical section, which I suggest you go through.

 

Good luck! And enjoy.

 

p.s. your link only takes me to the Autotrader home page.

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I'm sure they used the same GM headlight motors as on the M100, so I'm familiar with those. Window motors as well.

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You get a decent amount more power from an SE/S4 over the carb turbo, plus EFI which adds to reliability.

 

PS Kimbers doesn't know one end of a spanner from the other, I'm sure he meant to say he had it done, rather than that he did it! :D

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p.s. your link only takes me to the Autotrader home page.

 

Odd. When I click it it takes me to the 1994 S4 for sale ($22,900USD) that it's supposed to. I have no idea why it doesn't work for you.

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I've always been attracted to Lotus Esprit partly because of its super car looks. I'm currently considering an 89 Esprit Turbo. Unfortunately I know very little about these cars - their strong and weak points. My daily commute is less than 20 miles total and I'm looking to use it as my DAily Driver. Will the Esprit be up to the task?

Up until recently I had a 69 Alfa Romeo Berlina as a DD. I hear horror stories about Lotus Esprit but from people who have never owned one. I heard the same stories about Alfa Romeo, but as it stands, Alfas are quite reliable when they are maintained properly. With older Nord engined cars its simple and can be done with few wrenches in your driveway. Which brings to another point - how "service hungry" are the Esprit, particularly the 88-99 YM?

BTW, I have a1969 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce 1750 I'd consider trading for the right car...post-17987-0-58848200-1415867850.jpg

Edited by Tirefriar

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Odd. When I click it it takes me to the 1994 S4 for sale ($22,900USD) that it's supposed to. I have no idea why it doesn't work for you.

Probably because we get redirected to .co.uk  :thumbup:

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Thanks Bibs. yes, that's what I meant.

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I'd say the best Daily Driver is unequivocally the V8, since torque is high from the get-go making stop-start traffic quite comfortable. It's also quite a lazy man's ride, you don't have to work it. It's just a badass looking GT ride. 

 

Otherwise like others have said, the S4 is the car to have - or an S4s if you can find it. Find a car that has been well taken care of and you'll be fine - i.e. with an owner that has pre-emptively taken car of the bigger issues such as rusted petrol tanks etc etc. 

 

If you're even slightly handy with a spanner and have a little bit of time on your hands the S4 shouldn't need to be looked at by a shop at all. Just get one that has been regularly driven and serviced and you'll have a very reliable car on your hands. A lot of problems with the Esprits sound scarier than they are.... if I wasn't worried about vandalism I'd easily use my Turbo SE as a DD. 

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Well, this sucks. I'm trying to paste a link to another car for you guys to give opinions on, but it will not let me paste. It asked me if I want to give this site access to my clipboard, and I said yes, but still nothing. I don't know what to do about it.

 

Anyway, since it won't let me paste, anybody who cares to can go to the US ebaymotors site and do a search for the Esprit. It's the red 1991 with the starting price of $16,500 USD and no reserve. I wish I could put the link on here to make it easier.

 

Maybe something about the software this site uses doesn't like Windows 8.1 or doesn't like the newest version of Internet Explorer.

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That's prob because you are using internet Explorer, which we have some issues pasting with. I have the same issue and use Chrome when I want to copy paste on here.

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Let's see how Firefox works then, shall we?

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lotus-Esprit-Turbo-SE-Coupe-2-Door-1991-lotus-esprit-turbo-se-coupe-2-door-2-2-l-/181584184678?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2a4742c566&item=181584184678&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

 

These two seem like the price is a bit low, specially the second one, but low price leaves more room for improvements or restoration work that may be needed, right? :whistle:  Although, I'd much rather not have to do too much.

 

http://www.carsforsale.com/used-cars-for-sale/1991-lotus-esprit-novato-ca-232853147

 

http://www.carsforsale.com/used-cars-for-sale/1991-lotus-esprit-eastnassau-ny-234830492

 

It looks like this site likes Firefox much better than IE.

Edited by Tweetdriver

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Chris, I strongly recommend going the extra mile and finding a car which is maybe a little more expensive but well taken care of. Those three examples seemed a bit iffy... 

 

You'll know when you've found the right one. Getting one that later needs restoration is extremely time consuming and expensive in the long run. Unless you're into that, try to avoid it - it might just ruin your experience of the car and marque.

 

/my 2 cents

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I shall pass on the advice I was given here: Be prepared to travel long distances, be prepared to wait for the right car, and be prepared to be disappointed when you see them.

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I'm no stranger to travelling to buy cars. The last six vehicles I've bought for my family, I travelled from our home in Mississippi to Pittsburg (Elan), Ft Collins Colorado, Orlando Florida, Cincinatti Ohio, Louisville Kentucky, and Atlanta. I got lucky with the Elan. I took a risk and bought it sight unseen on Ebay. (The deal did include the right to get an independent pre-purchase inspection and cancel the purchase if it didn't pass.)

 

I spent almost two years looking at ads online for Elans, and learning what I could about them and their value, before I bought. It was my present to myself upon my retirement from the Air Force, so I planned ahead. I'm not planning to buy an Esprit immediately either. Right now I'm overseas in Afghanistan. When I get home my plan is to shoot for finding the right car by next car show season. I really enjoy going to see other cars and meet other enthusiastic owners. Specially Lotus owners, as we're kind of a rare breed in the U.S. it seems. Often you get the impression the average Joe in this country doesn't even know what a Lotus is. I've even been in auto parts stores and had the clerk ask me who makes it....umm....Lotus?

Edited by Tweetdriver

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well, that seems to happen to some of the younger generation here as well. There are so few cars driving, that they don't see it on the roads often enough to be remembering them. So when they finally see one, they say something along the line of "hey, look at that Ferrari"...

Can't blame them though. Here where I live, in Denmark, there is one (1) dealer. And he only have a few used ones plus a few new ones, like the exige. None of the older cars. And to make matters worse, he moved the Lotus'es from a big display on a major street, to a warehouse behind the shop. Now it's VW's, so noone would know there are  few Lotus cars around. And they are hidden on another floor, above a Porsche exhibition, behind  a Lamborghini display.

The average Lotus driver here where I live, is a grown up man, in his late fifties, an only use it a few times in the Summer. Here the Summer is between 7/7 and the 7'th of July, with temps around 20 degrees Cel. and it's usually raining, ha ha.

So no Wonder they are not a widespread and wellknown brand.

The James Bond movies etc. have been doing and still do a very large display of Lotus, compared to the Whole mass.

Anyway, take your time to read other threads on buying, as it's been discussed many times. There are much info to be had from this. If going for a SE or later, bring a laptop and the propper cable plus the installed Freescan or Espritmon to plug into the connectors on the car, either in the rear Electronics panel, or under the passengers dash. There you can see errorcodes etc. You'll need this for later anyway.

Good luck on your search, and btw. prices seems to be slowly rising, but not to a dramatic level.

Personally, I would be very observant when getting stories like "this was the only one made and it was a special factory testcar, only displayed at the Geneva car exhibition once, and then bought by Count XXX in 19xx, and it's only done 12000 km's" or similar.

Well, they are all very rare, and all have their stories, but sometimes it's blown up and out of proportion ;)

But they need regular exercise.

 

Last weekend I helped a friend looking and buying an Esprit similar to mine (Turbo SE), and that is one good help I can pass on: bring a friend or maybe a forum member, who actually have an Esprit. This way you can have a bit more Peace walking around the car, preparing for a testdrive and still know more in the end, before deciding if this is the one. The other purpose of bringing a friend is the fact, and this is a fact, that every single Esprit, new or old model, will attract you like a giant electromagnet or a Black hole, despite it beint in a really poor shape or perfect. So, you'll need a friend to pull you away and rethink over a cup of coffee ;)

Finally, read some of the build threads to see, what usually happens and how it's tackeled.

 

Kind regards,

Jacques.

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Chris, I strongly recommend going the extra mile and finding a car which is maybe a little more expensive but well taken care of. Those three examples seemed a bit iffy... 

 

You'll know when you've found the right one. Getting one that later needs restoration is extremely time consuming and expensive in the long run. Unless you're into that, try to avoid it - it might just ruin your experience of the car and marque.

 

/my 2 cents

I looked at the links. None have have great pictures or really informative descriptions but the yellow 91 in California caught my eye. Vanya, what makes you say that these are not well taken care of? I'm new to the Lotus world, switching over from Alfa Romeo so trying to get as much info as possible.

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I looked at the links. None have have great pictures or really informative descriptions but the yellow 91 in California caught my eye. Vanya, what makes you say that these are not well taken care of? I'm new to the Lotus world, switching over from Alfa Romeo so trying to get as much info as possible.

Obviously I can't judge them outright but upon first glance, 2 of the ads hardly had any photos (could be the site, or could be that the rest of the car isn't looking so great), which doesn't inspire too much confidence. The yellow one DOES look good though so I take back some of my reservations...

 

However, with regards to the red Turbo SE:

The interior looked very worn, the dash veneer very cracked (yes this is normal, but somewhat less common on the well taken care of ones that haven't been left outside in the sun), it looked like clearcoat failure on one of the headlamps (could have been the light reflecting so not 100% sure) and then there's the engine bay which looked slightly dirty considering how much the car has had done recently. What's more I'm always wary of ads stating "stage-2 clutch upgrade" - WTF does that even mean? What are these stages that seem to be universal lingo in some places? I know components and part suppliers, not stages.

 

I'm not saying it's a bad car, it probably runs great, but if you get one like it, you risk falling in love with it and end up spending half your savings on restoring the parts that aren't as-new (bodywork, suspension etc). Some people are wizards at this and can do it in the comfort of their own homes at little personal outlay, however, many of us might need to hire help when it comes to either labour or parts remanufacturing/restoration. If this is something you like, fair enough! If you'd just want something to turn the key on and drive and not be envious of other cars you see at meets, maybe it's better to look for another example.

 

I have a Turbo SE that's a little scruffy - runs perfect and all, but when I look at it and what it'll take for me to bring it back to As-New condition, it makes my eyes water. I'm too far gone now to sell it (like it too much) but I do feel a bit annoyed knowing I could have gotten a showroom Turbo SE for maybe 70-80% more....

 

ON THE FLIPSIDE:

To be frank - it's impossible to go on pictures alone regardless of their quality, so my ultimate advice would just be "go and see" - even the most perfect looking Esprits can have myriad faults when you see them in the flesh - it's not even a matter of trying to hide them from the seller's side. Some things just have to be seen in person to be detected.

 

For the record, the yellow Turbo SE caught my eye too. If I find even one (ORIGINAL!) Norfolk Mustard Yellow Turbo SE I'll sell either of my cars to get it. So far I know of only a Highwing in France that matches this description but I don't think it's for sale.

 

My opinion is of course far from gospel - and it's based on my personal experiences, my general preferences, and my financial situation.

 

So once more, the best and most objective advice I can offer is simply "go and check it out" - take a bazillion pictures, post them here, await opinions, weigh them according to what you personally feel and believe in, and make a call.

 

Forgive me in advance if I come off as a pompous ass.

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Its all been covered before with people paying top price for a car and then spending a fortune repairing bodged jobs, mostly carried out previously by garages. I would always look for an enthusiasts car rather than something from a garage which unless it is Lotus endorsed I wouldn't go near. As an example at a group meet last year to change cambelts a new owner had an enormous bill for works to his car but the garage had fitted the wrong cambelt and not even tensioned it properly. It was just a few miles from disaster.

 

Conversely you can get a cheap one knowing that work is needed and not get conned. Watch speedo readings as well and dont trust them. These speedos are known for failing and car could have covered considerably more than recorded.

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As an example at a group meet last year to change cambelts a new owner had an enormous bill for works to his car but the garage had fitted the wrong cambelt and not even tensioned it properly. It was just a few miles from disaster.

 

I've had this done to me by a garage....before making a 1000+ mile trip. They put a hex-tooth belt which is for an earlier model and tensioned it arbitrarily. Only found out about it months later.

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All right, I'll bite the bullet, and make a start of a list, and then all the other Guys dar more knowledgable than me, can chime in and add on, so it'll end up as a list of points to look at for future use, taht the moderators can copy and paste to a full list. I think it's a good idea anyway ;)

 

Body:

- faded colour. Do not underestimate this, as it ca be quite expensive to have a respray done right.

- cracks and stars in paint. As above. Can also mean a bad respray earlier in it's life.

- cracks in body where it is bolted on. More Flex, more cracks. Too stiff suspension may lead to even more cracks, as chassis twist.

- hanging doors.

- signs of damages or crashes. Straight body and even shut lines etc.

- black edging on rear side glasses. Loosen over time, and glass must come out to renew.

- working fuel filler flaps. They are electrical and operated by a switch frum underneath the steering Wheel on the dash. Same as a window regulator. On SE it's both sides than can refuel. Don't know on later models.

- rear lower panel with exhaust tip(s). Can be homemade reworked to fit twin pipes, centerpipes or en 4 pipes. Can be made well or not.

- same, but look at the metal net and it's edging. Can be rusty or broken or missing.

- Front bumper. Take a good look for damages and crack lines in paint on top, front and underneath. Look for uneven lines to body. Rusty metal strips that holds it tight, also in front compartment in front of spare Wheel (saver type).

- Rearbumper. See above.

- Door handles. Often sit a bit like they are pressed in, or bent or broken. New ones can be had though and easy peasy to change.

- Skirts etc. Can be swapped out for other mdoels from other model years. Look at LEW for detailed info and pics.

- window scrapers. Glued on to doorcard. Often falls off because of old age. Easily glued back on.

- Corroded window frames.

- Black-out on body each side, just below rear side glass. Often badly coloured or worn. New stickers can be had.

- squeaking rear door lifters. On the SE onwards with wings, it's quite heavy and cannot lift the Whole door. So have to be helped by hand(s). One "parks" the rear door at top position. Remember to lift, then lower, when shutting.

- screws and details on c-pillar covers each side, inside engine compartment. Can often be missing. Have to be out when performing many tasks, so they may take a hike ;)

- rubber framings. Can split or flatten, and makes exessive windnoise.

- Front screen. May easily break. Do not touch it when taking instrumentation out (see below). Not expensive, but transport is. Can be renewed with a friends help easily.

- front screen rubber finishers. Over time shrinks. New ones cheap at this time.

- rear panel with plate holder. May be swapped for an S4 model. Easy to redo from trunk. Get the original with the car if swapped.

- Electrical antenna. May seize.

Rear wing. Look for firm seating and fresh rubber feet. Don't lift the wing, as it's only 4 small bolts, but lift the reardoor.

 

Interrior:

- Carpets, cabin, rear and front. Only some lete models had carpet in the front compartment. Look out for torn miscoloured carpets. Glued on, and falls off over time. New ones can be had at this time.

- Leather. Miscoloured, faded, cracked, misplaced etc. Speaks for itself. Conolly does not exist any more, so other alternatives have to be used. Often cracks in surface is the clear coating and because of it being dried out. Can be remade with good result.

- Leather surround the firewall glass. Often not leather. Same with hadliner and sunvisors.(whatever). Tends to loosen and hang Down. Looks terrible, but can easily be glued back on.

- Gearknob. Can break or loosen.

- Footmats. Nothing left from factory. Many have alternatives.

- Doorcards. Can split or miscolour because of broken watershield behind. Easily renewed with plastic sheet from Building material.

 

Instrumentation:

- veeneer often splits or cracks. Very rare and expensive.

- Speedometer. Often breaks. Can be repaired by specialist.

- buttons. some go over time, like light stalks. Not expensive to renew at this time.

- Aircon. Old type gas. Very often not working. Fairly expensive to repair. Can be remade to suit new type gas.

instrumentation light. Left round knob for speedo etc. Right knob for centerconsole.

 

Lamps:

Rear. Toyota. May be found in scrapyards, but should not break or melt etc.

- head lamp pods. Both have a motor. Should go even, bot up and Down. Can be repaired with a Little imagination. Both pods fill with Water if not cleaned from time to time.

- head lamps. They therefore rust. Have been hard to get. Only outer ones type now. Require slight mod to pods. Bracketry behind rust. Stainless sets available at this time.

- sideblonkers. various types to be swapped out. Some clear. Get the originals with the car.

 

Things that come with the car:

- Owners manual. Black "soft" Little a5 book with instructions and stamps in one.

- Wind deflector. On the SE there came a body coloured wiond deflector in a bit Black plastic sunroof bag.

- Battery cover. Sometimes missing or it's Little knobs.

- Toolset. Black Little box that sits on top of the battery cover.

- Sparewheel. Space saver type.

- Jack. Sits in front compartment just in front of cabin air intake.

- Jack handle. Same as above.

- two sets of two keys. Small for doors. Long one for ignition.

 

Wheels.

- OZ Route. Original ond only type on the SE. On Eutopean cars it carries 215/15 front and 245/16 rear. Hard to get tires. Often changed to later model car Wheels, eg. V8, S4 etc.

 

Brakes:

- ABS. Some years have ABS. May fail by now. 1989, 1990 at least had no abs

- Rear calipes may seize in handbrake function.

- Later types had larger 300mm Brembo and then some later V8 had even bigger AP. Sometimes added to SE cars by owners.

- Brake servo pump. Seldom break, but have tube that rund underneath engine frame. Sounds a rather strange plop'ing sound. Stick a small fuelfilter in it, and enjoy a better sounding engne.

 

Exhaust:

- MAy rust and leak. Easy to change. Some alternatives, that also brings a much more volumious sound. 1-2-middle or 4 pipes in rear.

- EBPV. Exhaust back pressure Valve. Sticks and Rattles. Can be removed together with Throttle Jack system, and replaced with a small tube extender that can leak easily, or change the Whole tube from turbo to exhaustsystem with a new tube. With or without sports free flow catalyzer. This is less prone to leak than the small tube-extender that replaces the ebpv.

- exhaust manifold. Cast iron. On SE cars it should last a bit longer than older models. Leaks at some time though., eg. from splashes with Water onto itself being hot. Some replacement in cast iron can be had. Watch out for broken studs. Stainless banana manifolds can be had at this time. Mild steel versions may occour Again.

 

Steering:

- All the usual car parts to look for. On Early SE, the steering will be easily worn, because of lack of powersteering.

 

Suspension:

- Dampers wil probably be tired by now. Lotus madea Lotac programme to replace. Alternatives from many Companies can be had at this time, some adjustable.

- Bushings. Rubber that is quite soft. Many and worn. Should be replaced every now and then by same or Lotas Lotus Programme in poly but still resonable soft. Harder ones fromother Companies can be had at this time. Can be really har though. Some debate on split types.

 

Chargecooler system:

- Mechanical pump can leak from behind pump itself. Impeller can deform or come Loose from shaft. Can be replaced. Electrical waterpump instead is popular and easy to service if need be.

- chargecooler. can block with deposits.

- Should be Cold when driven and stopped. Go and feel it. After standing still, it heats up slowly

 

 More later.

 

Cheers,

Jacques.

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Here's the same yellow SE with more photos when it was up for sale earlier this year.

Looks even nicer in the extra photos, engine bay looks immaculate.

Buy it! :D

http://www.rosnermotorsports.com/1991-lotus-esprit-se.htm

Edited by Simon350S

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