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post #1 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Need some opinions

I know I am most likely opening a can of worms here but what are you alls thoughts on Esprit V8 Twin Turbos? I have wanted one for a very long time I drove one once and have always had a soft spot for Lotus. Can anyone give me an Idea of what to look for in one? Problems? Preferred years? It wont replace any of the Italians in the garage but I have missed the english touch ever since I got rid of my jag a few years ago...and I cant afford an Aston.
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 06:14 AM
 
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I know practically nothing technical about the Esprit. I do know that I really really really like it. It has something magical about it, which is weird because when I look at it objectively, it's quite a plain car. It's not very special in any way. It's just a wedge.

However, the new one looks stunning

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post #3 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 06:55 AM
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The new one certainly does look stunning.
The older ones do too. I've always been a fan of Lotus, never owned one and don't much about them, but they do have a terrible reputation for reliability. Hence the name:
Lots
Of
Trouble
Usually
Serious

I think that a couple of members on here have Esprit's, including Tony K ???

Archie
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 07:03 AM
 
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as archiegibbs says they really have a bad name in reliability especially the transmission isn't really great.

mv agusta+ferrari =perfect world
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 07:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the head View Post
I know I am most likely opening a can of worms here but what are you alls thoughts on Esprit V8 Twin Turbos? I have wanted one for a very long time I drove one once and have always had a soft spot for Lotus. Can anyone give me an Idea of what to look for in one? Problems? Preferred years? It wont replace any of the Italians in the garage but I have missed the english touch ever since I got rid of my jag a few years ago...and I cant afford an Aston.
My uderstanding is they have a weak gear box which is prone to breakage. I think it's 2nd gear that usually goes out on those first. I don't know how hard it would be to swap in a more durable gear box but I am sure it could be done. I have never had one but I think you would have a lot of fun with one of those.

Best Regards,

Thomas Carey
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 07:13 AM Thread Starter
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I know the last few years of them had some gearbox revisions (round taillight center exit exhaust version) I wonder if it was to improve that problem?
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 08:38 AM
 
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Now that you all mention it... I believe the TV show "5th gear" tried to get a Lotus to 200 Mph a while back and they indeed had a gearbox problem. Thing kept failing. Too bad because it is a brand with some history
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 08:57 AM
 
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The Lotus cars are beautiful and it is unfortunate that they haven't been able to work out the little quirks

Chris

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.-Anatole France
"Dude, it's just math"-Pete
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 01:58 PM
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My father was killed in a brand new Lotus Elan in 1963. I believe the Lotus offerngs to be beautiful cars but never learned any more about them. They cause a strange feeling I can't clearly define.

Lane

Previous owner of 348ts SS #64, Now Ferrariless
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-02-2008, 05:53 PM
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I'm not an expert on V8 Esprits (I'm into the earlier 4-pot ones), but I have a few gearhead friends with V8 Esprits, and hang around on the Lotus Esprit Forum enough to have a reasonably good understanding. I'm pretty sure about most of the below, but you may want to verify with an expert.

V8 Esprits were made from 1996-2004, with US models being 1997-2004. If you want to get a V8 Esprit, get a 2000 or newer model year, and get the most unmolested one you can find.

There are two main issues with V8 Esprits:

1) The early V8 engines had a defective or incorrect sealant on the cylinder liners, resulting in coolant and oil mixing . . . necessitating a full rebuild. I believe these were cars up through 1999, but it may have been up to 2000 -- I'm not sure. Many have been rebuilt by Lotus under recall/warranty, but many have not. Beware of the low mile early V8 Esprit with no record and proof of having had the cylinder liner problem fixed; it is a time bomb. Don't pay more than $20,000 USD (in North America) for an early, non-rebuilt car; factor having to rebuild the engine (over $10,000 USD) into the purchase price. The later ones are fine.

2) The transaxle used in the V8 Esprits is pretty much the same Renault unit they had been using since 1987/88. It was suitable for the job in the 4-cylinder cars, but the V8 Esprit starts at 350bhp and ??? (lotsa) torque, and in stock form, a V8 Esprit is nearing the limits of what the transaxle can take. People talk about how easy it is to get 450-500+hp from the Esprit V8; well, of course; Lotus could have done that from the factory, but they kept it down in part because of the transaxle. People LOVE to modify the V8 Esprits; a simple chip that changes the engine management system gives you a lot more instant power, and people like to change out the turbos, injectors and exhausts. The transaxles just can't take the repeated beating from 500hp, and they go boom. I think it's usually the diff or ring and pinion, but I may be mistaken here. The transaxles are definitely the car's weak spot, but the broken ones tend to usually be on the modified cars.

Beyond that, they have the occasional wheel bearing failure and such, and I think one year or two of the early cars may have had some timing belt or tensioner issues, or just maybe need it to be changed frequently -- or I may be thinking of another car . . . . Check on that with an expert.

Some people will say that the best Esprit ever made was the 1994-1995 S4S, an upgrade of the 1994 (maybe late 93) S4. The S4S is the fastest and most reliable version of the 4-cylinder Esprit, and the last version (except in the UK and a few other markets, where they offered a 2-liter for a few more years). The S4S is sometimes called "the Toyota of Esprits" by Lotus fans. I forget what most of the details are, but IIRC there are revisions to the engine internals and structure, engine management system, . . . I forget what else. Well, they're fast, and they're reliable, and the only complaint people ever had about them is that it still didn't have a V8!


The current "best value" in Esprits -- i.e., best performance + reliability per dollar -- is in the 1989-1991 Turbo SE models. These have 264 hp, the liquid intercooler ("Chargecooler"), the bulletproof GM fuel injection and engine management, blistering acceleration, and a top speed around 163-165mph. There were [comparatively] a lot of them made, and they can be bought in the range of $18,000 - $25,000 USD in North America. If you don't need to go quite as fast, the non-SE version is a few grand cheaper, with only 220 hp.


There are some great points to consider about any of these later Esprits:

- The bodies are reinforced with Kevlar; they stay nice and only rarely develop the traditional gel coat cracks, etc..
- Frames on all 1980 and newer Esprits are galvanized, and hold up very well against the elements.
- The Esprit had reached a higher level of refinement by the time the Peter Stevens-designed cars were made
- Cross-reference parts are well-documented, and many Lotus-specific parts are not that expensive compared to Ferrari parts.
- The late 4-cylinder cars have a long-life timing belt. With any 4-cylinder Esprit, you have half as many valves, pistons, tensioners, etc. to deal with when it comes to servicing (and service cost . . .)
- They are fairly simple cars, made of far fewer pars than most other cars; they are not a complicated mess like many Italian cars . .
- Lotus offers top-shelf support for Esprits of all ages. For example, they recently went through a "programme" of track testing (at Hethel) the various generations of Esprits and redeveloping the suspension using the best of today's components. They offer newly engineered spring/damper kits, bushings, and make tire recommendations for each version of Esprit. In general, parts availability for any Esprit is excellent, the only exceptions being with some of the outsourced parts (such as some transaxle parts for early cars with Citroen units). For any year Esprit, there really isn't much that you could possibly need that you can't get.


Well . . . if you have read this far . . . I hope is has been helpful!

Tony K.

1980 308 GTBi

Last edited by Tony K; 05-02-2008 at 06:00 PM.
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post #11 of 15 Old 05-03-2008, 11:05 PM
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Tony, Terrific write up. I was keenly interested in a V8 Esprit for several years but could never quite get my head around all the different problems and quirks. At the end I dropped it mostly due to my inability to get comfortable behind the wheel. The cabin fit is still very tight, even on the V8s.
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post #12 of 15 Old 05-04-2008, 06:24 AM
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I can only speak for the older cars, having owned an Europa & dated a girl with an S3 Esprit.
At the time of the Europa the build 'quality' was truly horrific, I went through 3 pedal boxes in less than 4,000 miles & even the modified rose jointed gearshift needed re-setting after nearly every journey (& that was an improvement on standard apparently), the glassfibre was so thin that when the car was jacked up you could see light through the floors - I never had carpets in it due to the leaks! (I'm not even going to begin on the interior & electrics).
The quality of the body had improved out of all recognition by the Esprit, there were still major electrical issues though, but it was mechanically superb & reliable; I did find myself playing 'spot the switchgear' though, with bits of this & bits of that used everywhere which did give it a slightly 'budget' feel.
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post #13 of 15 Old 05-05-2008, 06:46 AM
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With reference to "spot the switchgear", people have long complained about that with the Esprit, and I think that was a bit unfair;

- the Esprit was picked on the most for having "Morris Marina door handles" . . . but no one ever lambasted the Range Rover for having the exact same handles?!? Not to mention the handles fit the look of the car, IMHO.

- Yep, early Esprits had the same Lucas switchgear found on a Triumph . . . yet no one ever faulted the mid-70s Aston Martin V8 for having the same family of switchgear as the MGB.

- speaking of door handles, the Ferrari 308 GT4 used FIAT X1/9 door handles, and the Mondial used Alfa Spider door handles

- I've seen the $18 disposable 308 window switches on some other lesser Italian car

- the parking brake, inside door handles, side markers, headlight motors, interior light, seat rails, sending units, and various other switches on the 308 are all straight from the FIAT/Lancia parts bin.

- Porsche "parts binned" VW/Audi parts for decades . . . until they bought the company!

Point is, all of these low-volume sports/exotic cars have parts taken from more mundane, mass-produced vehicles. . . . They all deserve equal criticism! . . . . quite frankly, though, I don't mind it; it keeps some things more affordable!

Tony K.

1980 308 GTBi
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-05-2008, 11:00 AM
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As long as the switchgear works and stands the test of time and usage, it doesn't really matter where it comes from. My old 328 was full of parts from other FIAT group companies. The benefit of using parts bin switches is that when they break they are cheaper to get a replacement from the Alfa/Fiat or Lancia parts stores rather than paying the F Tax just to buy it from Ferrari.

Archie
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post #15 of 15 Old 05-05-2008, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxer View Post
Tony, Terrific write up...
Where are my manners?

Thank you, Boxer.

Tony K.

1980 308 GTBi
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