Friday, March 20, 2015

15k: Swap Meet Exotic: 1985 Lotus Esprit Turbo

Exotic cars are expensive.  Forget buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini from the late 1970s, early 80s without serious cash (and reserves) and the Porsche 930 Turbo has recently skyrocketed into trust fund money levels as well.  What does that leave for the poor man on the street?  What about a Colin Chapman inspired mid-engined turbocharged Lotus with style by Giorgetto Giugiaro?  Sounds exotic, but the sticker price is about as exotic as a new Nissan Versa.  Find this 1985 Esprit Turbo offered for $12,500 in SF Bay Area, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.



Odd bit of trivia for you -- Colin Chapman (working with John Z DeLorean) did some last minute chassis & suspension engineering work on the DeLorean, and that car's backbone frame is based on the Lotus Esprit.  In a manner of speaking, the DMC-12 is a cousin from opposite sides o' the Irish Sea.  The fact that this one is painted in a stainless-looking color only emphasizes that connection.


Power in the Esprit Turbo comes from a Lotus type 910 inline-4 cylinder engine.  The type 910 pushes out 205 horsepower and 193 ft-lbs of torque from its 2.2 liters.  It was quite the zippy little thing for its day and could hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds in 1985. 


The seating position is low and sporty in the Esprit, but the frunk is small enough that your boxes of junk must be stored in the passenger seat.  


See another surprisingly low priced exotic? Send it here: tips@dailyturismo.com

18 comments:

  1. Get one now before the speculators and marketeers drive prices up

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  2. Spoiler Alert: you probably don't care about what I'm about to write, so don't read it.

    I remember seeing an Esprit of this vintage at a car show once with an SHO swap. I thought it was pretty clever actually and I recall it being an extremely clean install. Looking around the Interwebz, I see that there have been several owners that have gone this route. I'm sure the Yamaha engine is heavier but I'd guess it's probably worth the weight, though there must surely be even better swaps nowadays (Lanchester Twin-Crank perhaps?). I've never driven a ESHOspirit/EspirSHO/SHOrit/GoodLordI'mTiredOfTryingToComeUpWithACleverName before, but I most definitely would like to. I absolutely loved driving the turbo Esprit every time I've had the opportunity, though their fragility is, was and continues to be frightening. In fact, this is one of the few cars that I might even accept that ridiculously painful owner experience.

    It's rather sad that the Esprit isn't valued higher (be that as it may for us El Cheapo Enthusiasts) and it probably deserves better standing in the collectibles market. Given where it's generally at now, I don't foresee it rising dramatically in value anytime soon, despite any freaky outliers. But I could be wrong!

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    Replies
    1. The SHO V6 is a nice motor but it's heavy, some parts are getting scarce and expensive (anyone got a gold-to-SHO-rod-bearing exchange tracker set up yet?), and it's not cheap to get much past the stock 220HP without going to forced induction.

      Over on thelotusforums there's a few interesting-looking swaps, a 3-liter Duratec V6 (a little more HP than the SHO, better parts availability and 120lb less weight), an Audi 4.2 V8, etc.

      The Lotus four is not exactly a small engine, it wouldn't surprise me if an LS3 would go in pretty readily where the Brit four-banger comes out.

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    2. On that front I've seen a couple LS1 Jensen-Healey swaps and the GM eight-holer looks like it was born to tuck in there.

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    3. So exactly (or approximately) how much does a 3-liter Duratec V6 weigh? Is it lighter than a J32 Honda?

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  3. Continue not reading this. Just as a point of reference, one of my books lists this generation Esprit as being worth $12K-$17K. It was published in 2000; that's a pretty good indicator that the values aren't going much of anywhere.

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  4. Anybody have experience re maximum driver size into one of these? I'm XXL tall.

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    Replies
    1. Roomier than a Europa. I'm 6', 180 and size 10 shoes. My guess is 6'2, 220 and size 12 feet without shoes is going to be the limit

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  5. Why would the prices move? These are fragile, small, low, few creature comforts, noisy inside, difficult to park and manual transmission.

    Oh wait that's what a sports car is supposed to be.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. Add in the Lotus pedigree, such as it is.

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  6. To that point, looking at the interior pic made me wonder how one gets out of the car once the handbrake is set - anybody know? Maybe it's not as awkward as it seems?

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    Replies
    1. Bellyflop on the roof. Throw feet into footwell. Pivot, squirm and rip the skin off your ribs as you slide down into the seat. Or just do what every owner I've ever met did; leave it in gear with the brake off and just remember to put into neutral before you let 'er rip.

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    2. It's crazy (uh...), but the Fiero's solution was much more elegant.

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    3. Pull the handbrake after you exit, I guess.

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    4. Never could get out without having both hands on the pavement and crawl.

      As to the parking break. We'll never put on your flip flop before exiting the car with the parking break on. Almost impossible to get yourself free.

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    5. Now, ^^that degree of requisite contortionism for a successful execution of egress is exactly what a truly classic sports car experience is all about. Speed, schmeed; excessive velocity is an anodyne experience in modern cars, even most modern sports cars. 0-60 has mostly become much ado about nothing, at least when gauged by the carefully calibrated seat 'o the pants, so serene is the acceleration process (tesla p85 comes to mind). No, for this grease-nailed proto-enthusiast, it is the number of anatomical parts that require noisy cracking and painful scraping while operating said classic in its intended manner that's most important, regardless of any consideration of actual, measurable speed, acceleration or sex appeal.

      Of course, my 1800 pretty much requires this definition of me since it lacks any manner of speed, acceleration and sex appeal.

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    6. +111111111!

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  7. Too bad they didn't put that engine in the Delorean.....

    ReplyDelete

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