Federal # 055
Chassis Number 79070198T
Engine Number ??
David Fitch purchased car #55 in Feb '05 from a fellow named Steve in San Diego, CA. Steve acquired the car in '03 from Andrew (see Andrew's story below).
I saw the car on eBay, but it didn't receive a bid. I contacted the seller (Steve) and struck a deal. I flew out to California, purchased the car, and had it shipped to its new home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I've done a few minor cosmetic repairs and will fit Dellortos before returning the car to road. The car runs and drives great and I'm looking forward to the extra power the Dellortos should provide.
Andrew let us know that he purchased #055 from an ad in Auto Trader July 19th, 2001. Below is his "story".
I had been looking for a car for quite some time. I had not had a 'car' since I sold my '68 El Dorado back in 1997, shortly before I left my 'homeworld' (Massachusetts). As my 'daily driver' at the time was a 1978 Turbo Regal, I did not have the 'fever' too bad.
In 1999 I traded the Turbo Regal in (for a 1994 Impala SS, which was too expensive so I exchanged it for a 1990 454SS Truck which was a recovered theft, which I then exchanged) for my current ride, a CLEAN 1995 C1500 regular/ short Pickup). As this was a 'daily driver' type of a ride, the joy of having a 'new toy' slowly wore off, and the jones for a 'collector car' began to build.
During all that time I had been looking at all kinds of cars, from a 1951 Cadillac Club Coupe to a 1966 Porsche 912, and everything in between. Nothing seemed to be IT, however. I continued to faithfully buy the Auto Trader each week and surf the net frequently.
I was real close to buying a restored 1971 El Camino SS 454 (NICE) and had even applied for (and been approved for) a loan to purchase it (earlier that week in fact), but it just wasn't the ONE. Something just wasn't quite right about the car. None of the emblems were put on right; they were all crooked, had old paint on them, etc. Normally this would scream CLONE, but this particular car had solid documentation to prove it was the real thing. Still, if they did not take the time to put the emblems back on correctly, what else did they cut corners on? Plus it was a 'plain jane' model, bench seat, no gauges, and no A/C.
I first spotted JPS # 055 in the Auto Trader that Friday evening, (which was 2 days after my 40th, incidentally). This is the car as advertised in the July 19th 2001 Portland, OR Auto Trader.
I had seen a similar (non-JPS) car about 2 years earlier offered at an auction in TX (Pate). I know now it must have been an S2 Esprit, but I don't recall the year. What struck me about the car was the fact that it had an (almost) perfectly flat windshield. As the car was locked, I figured screw them basically, (like I'm going to buy a car I can't even SIT in?) and did not pursue it further. I do not see an auction as a viable way to purchase a collector car anyhow, too many shills and used car salesmen for my tastes. I need time to do my homework, thoroughly evaluate the purchase, and think it over, none of which can be done in the auction atmosphere.
But that particular car did stick in my mind as a pretty cool ride. So when I saw this one advertised I started thinking about it. I went to work the next day (Saturday) and could not stop thinking about it. So, I left work early, went home, and called the owner up. He was home (good sign) and sounded like a pretty cool dude (also a good sign, as I REFUSE to buy a car from a dickhead). It was kind of a long haul (about 3 hours) and pretty late to get started. I was hesitant to drive all that way to look at what turns out to be a shitbox (seems like I all I had been doing recently). But I said what the hey, and set out.
When I finally got up there it was in the garage (a good sign) looking like it always lived in there. Looking GOOD! I had been looking for quite a while, at all kinds of cars, but none quite rang my chimes. People would ask me "Are you looking for a Car?" and I would reply "Yup". So they would say, "Well, what are you looking for?" I would always answer "I will know it when I see it".
That was exactly the case with this car. The moment I saw it I knew this was the ONE. And the more I checked it out and talked with the owner, the more it just kept getting better and better. I only had a half an hour or so to look at the car, then I had to head home, but the car (and the owner) were just too cool. I ended up staying for 2 or 3 hours. With a minimum of haggling a deal was struck, which was closed on a mere handshake.
The owner had a framed original Ad (the same one shown on this site) from a 1978 Road and Track up on the wall of the Garage. He took the ad down and gave it me to take home with me (like I said, cool Dude) so I would have something to look at all week. I got to keep it too!
When I got home, I got on the Net and did my homework (at which time I first discovered this fine site). Everything the Owner told me jibed with what I saw on the net. For example, he said he bought the car in So Cal about ten years ago. The Chassis #, having a T suffix (California Emissions), coincides with what my research indicated. He also told me #056 has chassis #0199T, which I was also able to confirm (next chassis up from #055 which has #0198T).
The following Monday, I contacted my Credit Union and told them 'cancel that El Camino!' and begin processing the transaction for a 1979 Lotus Esprit. They called me back and told me that in order to make this work, three things had to happen: 1) a CLEAN Title was needed, 2) the Book Value had to be more than the asking price, and 3) the car had to be inspected by the Credit Union before they coughed up the check.
I contacted the owner and shared this with him. He told me the title was clean, no prob there. The book value was being researched by the CU and they would get back to me. The owner agreed to bring the car down for me that Saturday and meet me at the CU so the CU Rep could check it out.
I felt that it would be better for him to drive the car down for me as opposed to me coming up and driving the car down myself. For me, it would turn out to be a long, nerve racking experience. Every little noise would have me freaking out. As he had owned the car a long time, he was very familiar with all the sounds it might make, and would know if something sounds like a serious problem, or was just a 'normal' noise. If anything simple did go wrong, he would probably take it in stride, and have it fixed in a jiffy, as opposed to me, being unfamiliar with the car, winding up beached from some stupid little thing.
Him driving the car down would also serve as a chance for him to have one nice long last ride in his 'pride and joy'. And, as he had a wife, he had someone readily available to take him back. I might not have been able to find anyone willing to help me out that particular morning. So, we agreed that it would be best for both of us that he drive the car down for me.
The only snag was the Registration. It was due to expire at the end of July, and the date of the transaction was scheduled for July 28th. He (his wife actually) had only recently sent in the renewal, and they had not yet gotten it back. This could pose problems with the Loan and Insurance, not to mention I could only drive it for 2 days!
The Credit Union reported the following day that the book value was $1500 MORE than the asking price. RIGHT ON! I phoned the owner, and told him we were good to go. I said "I'm scared, this is TOO easy". He agreed that it was strange; the first and only person to come look at the car was a perfect fit. He had been considering selling the car for some time, but was hesitant to offer it for sale. He did not want to have to deal with all the yahoos, no-shows, chiselers, and other hassles that come with selling an Exotic. We agreed it was a miracle that we hooked up so easily on the first shot.
After the longest week at work ever, I secretly made plans to leave work early on Friday. Being in the midst of an expansion, I had to vacate my current cubicle. As my new cubicle was still occupied, I packed up my stuff got ready to go. Right before I tried to leave, sure enough, my boss wanted to talk to me. Oh boy, what now? He told me my (unscheduled) raise had just come through! He also told me to 'go ahead and enjoy the weekend' COOL!
I had had been searching the entire week for a good place to keep my car with out any luck at all. So, I got on the phone again. I found what sounded like a promising vacant space nearby, and headed right over for a peek. "I'll take it". The mgr was a cool older woman who happened to mention she had 2 single daughters still left at home she was trying to marry off. Hmmm... well, wouldn't you know, I'm eligible. Well now, she would just have to invite me over for dinner some time now wouldn't she?
The next morning (of THE day) as I loaded up my tools and stuff to bring over to my new garage, I figgered that I had better check on that new Roll-Away I have been eyeing. That would sure come in handy. I ran back in and checked Sears' web site. Sure enough, it was ON SALE, ending TODAY. Everything just seemed to be falling into place.
The Credit Union did not open until 10:30, which gave the owner plenty of time to drive down with the car, and me time to go buy the Roll-Away (only ONE left in stock!). FINALLY, we met at about 10:15. The car looked SWEET, and made the 3-hour drive down NO SWEAT. He showed me the freshly renewed Registration that had just got in the mail the day before. Like I said, this transaction just seemed charmed. We were all set, and when the doors of the Credit Union finally opened, we both took a deep breath and ventured in.
But wait! No, the gal handling the transaction did NOT leave the folder at the front desk like she said she would. No, the title did not match the VIN like the owner said it did, etc, etc. SIGH. The dude from the Credit Union was pretty young, and when it came time to inspect the vehicle, I don't think he had ever even SEEN a Lotus Esprit, let alone processed a loan on one. But we showed him how the chassis number matched the title, lo and behold. After about an hour of nail biting and sweating it out, the CU finally cut the check. I handed it over to the owner, and it was MINE.
The one last remaining task was to drive over to the garage. As I pulled out, I checked to make sure he was following me. That thing is AWESOME! I had to roll down the window and give him the BIG thumbs up! I was grinning from ear to ear. We made it over to the garage without incident, tucked the car safely in, locked the door, and it was a DONE DEAL. I think the owner was satisfied it had found a good home.
We headed to the Roadhouse for lunch. The (now) previous owner and his wife would not let me buy, however. Like I said, cool.
Raymond Robinson saw fed #055 car some time ago in Portland Oregon (Fed 055 is on the left with Raymond's Fed 056 on the right) and noted its chassis number. Note the different front bumper arrangements. Raymond obviously prefers the European spec bumpers.
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