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Newbie-86 HCI only one week old!



THe car is 1986 Esprit HCI. I only have it a week, but I love it. Couple of questions and issues.

1. What does "Federal" mean? I see it all the time in manuals, forums, etc, but have yet to define it.

2. Car has 26k on it, but not much use or service. Seems to have been sitting in a garage for years.

3. Started the car-it is 25 degrees Fahrenheit here. Idle was 1600 rpm, and oil pressure was 50 psi. Is this normal? I did not have it running very long. How do you adjust idle speed? How do you look at timing? I cant even see the timing indicator.

4. Oil leaks on manifold. Appears to be missing a bolt on exhaust manifold.

5. Play in steering. Also seems to vibrate.

6. In cold weather (25 F), it took 3 attempts before it would stay running

7. Heater does not work

Other than that, I bought it because everything else was mint (for a 20 year old car)!

I am thinking of removing the engine and tearing down the whole thing-new gaskets, seals, and hoses everywhere.

What do you think?

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it may be prudent to take the engine out and service it, especially if there is oil leaks coming from the head area. you can get the head checked over, then withthe engine out clean everything up in the engine bay, replace any old rotting or corroded parts, clamps, clips etc.

you can give the engine a real good service from the water pump, belts, tensioner pully, oil filter, oil, gearbox oil etc the list goes on.

for more info and further heads up on what one of the worst case scenarios can be take a look at my removing cam towers thread in the restoration section along with the other threads there.

welcome to the club!!


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Mark, welcome to the Esprit world. I'll try to hit a few points here:

Federal means built for export to the US (or Canada I believe).

As others have suggested, an engine like yours without a service history needs to be dealt with cautiously. You really should consider having a "C" service done. That's somewhat involved, but it will eliminate possible problems before they have an opportunity to ruin your car (some of these problems can be catastrophic, like timing belt issues). Do your research though, find a shop that's competent with this car before giving them the keys. There are many venues on the web that are full of information and advice, so someone is bound to know of a decent shop near you. Where are you?

The starting and running characteristics of these motors is not unlike what you've already described. The high idle (idle while cold) is typically between 1600-1800. After about 5 minutes it should drop down to the normal idle of about 1100. Your cold starting (3 times) is not all that unusual, although when they're running well, they'll start on the first try, and stay running. You've probably noticed a lumpy idle too, this is totally normal; theese engines simply don't idle smoothly, so wipe that idea out of your mind.

You mentioned oil leaks. They're somewhat common, but you do need to beware, depending on where they are. This engine runs incredibly hot (especially near the turbo), so if the leak(s) are anywhere near the turbo or catalytic converters, you really need to have them fixed quickly, or risk turning the car into a lump of melted goo. The good new is that leaks would be addressed in a "C" service.

Loose, Rickety Steering? Not on a G-body. There's something going on there. The steering should be exceptionally precise and there should be little (if any) play in the wheel. It could be flat-spotted tires if the car has been sitting forever, but it could also be a worn steering rack. (not usually part of a "C" service, but it could easily be done there)

You said you were missing a bolt on the exhaust manifold. If that's true, you're lucky. Chances are at least 50/50 that it's broken off inside and it just looks missing.

Anyway, I keep a web repository of info about my car that I refer to constantly. I've got a medical history of all my repairs and troubleshooting, some stuff from the manuals, a "tips" sheet for prospective or new buyers, and some diagrams that I find to be particularly useful. If you feel like reading, I'd immediately suggest that you look through the "Tips for Owners....." document; it will answer many of the questions I'm sure you're asking right now. You can find all this stuff here: (documents are at the bottom of the page).

anyway, congrats on your new toy,

Tom Beggan

87 HCi

New Hampshire

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The timing belt is the most important part to be concerned about. If the car has been sitting, a rotting timing belt can cost you a motor. A "C" service should bring you up to speed.

This sight, and the people on it, is great. You have years of experience right here.



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Hi Mark, congrats on yout Esprit purchase :huh:

1."Federal" was a generalised term used in the British motor industry in the 70s/80s, to signify a version of a car built for export to the USA market, that complied with U.S. Federal Government Standards for exhaust emmisions and safety(crash) requirements.

2.Carrying out a full C service makes great sense on a Esprit that has been standing for a long time (as this one has been), Seals leak and belts dry out and crack, tyres also flat spot and brake/clutch fluid (being hydroscopic) sucks in water from the atmosphere causing master and slave cylinders to corrode internally and leak.

3. Sounds OK to me as long as the idle comes down to 900-1000rpm when the engine has reached 90 degrees c. The timing marks are on the flywheel of the engine, there is a hole in the gearbox bellhousing at the top so you can see them (you might still have the rubber bung in the hole covering it). timing is 15 degress BTDC @ 950-1000rpm Idle speed is adjusted by the screw on the top of the linkage of the rear carb.

4.Oil dripping onto the exhaust manifold is either caused by the valve cover gasket /valve cover bolt sealing washers leaking (easy fix) or the cam tower /cylinder head joint leaking (due to Loctite anerobic gasket compound failure) Cam tower has to be removed and re- gasket compounded to fix(much more difficult)

Studs tend to shear off exhaust manifold If they are corroded or overtightened.

5. I would check the track rod ends, the vibration is probably caused by flat spotted tyres due to the car standing for so long(you will have to install new tyres to correct)

6. The car has a manual choke control (to the right of the steering collumn) you should pull it fully out and pump the throttle pedal 2 to 3 times to start the car (on a cold day)

7. there are a few reasons why the heater might not work, we have covered them in this thread.

Edited by WayneB
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Hi, Mark,

Where in eastern PA? I'm between Elmira and Corning NY. When you get the Esprit sorted out, you should come up for a few of the races here @ Watkins Glen.

I have a friend in Canada, who is currently building his S2 Esprit engine. He and a few friends usually stay here during the races. It would be nice to get a few more Esprits together this season!

Best of luck, and congrats on your purchase. Post some pics if you get a chance. You won't find a better place than this Forum for info!

Cheers, Lee

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I almost got that car!

Is it as nice as the pics looked?

The only thing that put me off was the black interior. It is rough with black interior in the South. I hate to feel heat re-radiating from all around me. Shake and bake. lol.

I am running down a few other cars though.


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Yes, for 20 years old, it is in fantastic condition! Never painted. Most parts look factory new. Of course there is the minor imperfection here and there, but that's how it goes for a car this age.

I am not a fan of tan interiors. It has to be black for me. I think the turbo esprit decals where removed at one time, and I thought of putting new ones on, but I think I prefer the "cleaner" look, so I am going to keep them off.

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