Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter
Advice on buying a V8 Esprit - Esprit Chat - TLF - Totally Lotus Jump to content


Advice on buying a V8 Esprit


Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I've been considering buying my first Lotus, and at the moment I am tending towards a V8 Esprit. I've found one LHD example that I'm considering (MY1999), but I need some advice. I've lurked on this forum, looked at the lotusespritworld/espritfactfile and generally read as much as I can. I've found two points that seem to be prevalent:

1. Buy a car with as few owners as possible, ideally one owner who had the car serviced at the Lotus dealership with no expense spared

2. Buy a car that is used regularly, these cars don't like to sit around, otherwise problems develop.

Now the one I found matches (1) exactly. Car has only had one owner from new, and they serviced it regularly at the official garage.

Point (2) is my concern, the car was a daily driver up until 2006, at which point between 2006 and 2016 it did approximately 500km/300miles.  Then the owner sold it to a classic car dealer, which kept it from 2016 till present day with no driving at all. When they decided to list it this year, the fuel pumps didn't work so they had to replace those. However that makes it likely the engine wasn't even turned over between 2016 and 2021.

Seeing as apparently these cars need a regular 6 month service even if not driven, what is the risk that there is some internal problems that may have arisen in the last 15 years of barely being used? I know on some cars, their seals will dry out if not run for a long time, or hoses may crack. In those cases the engine may well fire up and run for 1,000 or so miles, but after which you are looking at an engine rebuild, or some other major component failure.

What things should I check specifically on one of these cars when they have not been run at all for extended periods. What are the problems that can manifest?  Or is this very much a case of "stay away", because the car/engine doesn't like to sit around that long without major work. The owner apparently kept it indoors, and the dealer kept it in a climate controlled car storage unit, so hopefully corrosion won't be too big a worry.

Beyond that, I guess my questions are more generic about the Esprit, specifically:

- How comfortable is it for someone around 6ft 2? One of the reasons I was drawn to Lotus was the Evora seems to have been designed around larger people, and I dislike being uncomfortable in cars I am driving. However I don't know if the same consideration was given to the Esprit.

- How bad is the actual gearbox? Reports I've read seem to swing between "no problems for 100,000 miles", to "It will explode if your floor it".  Also apparently the action is awful, but that is something that I guess I would need to test for myself.

- What is parts availability like? Does Lotus still provide parts and support? Or is it mostly aftermarket? A lot of what I read seems to say that maintaining these cars is expensive, parts are expensive, etc... However the only thing worse than an expensive part is a part you can no longer get, meaning you have to scour scrapyards. etc... hoping to find an old part in better condition than the one the broke on your car. As so few of these cars were built, I doubt there is an extensive pile of scrapped cars to get parts from.


Any help appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ogi

I bought a 1979 S2 Esprit last year with 55,000 miles on the clock and so far so good. 

The previous owner had it checked over before selling by Geoff Downhill from Esprit Engineering https://espritengineering.co.uk, who specialises in these classic cars. Geoff may be able to advise you regarding inspection before buying, the steps needed to get the car back on the road and a reasonable servicing and contingency budget.

You really need to drive an Esprit to check you are comfortable with the cockpit size and the driving experience. If the V8 is not up to being put through its paces today, why not check out a working Esprit from another dealer?

I love the Esprit gearbox. Perhaps a little fiddly to put into reverse. But accelerating through the up gears is a dream. Likewise changing down for engine braking, etc.

The key functional parts for the Esprit generally seem to be available, once you have found your way around the servicing and maintenance network of suppliers, for example, SJS https://www.sjsportscars.com or Lotusbits http://www.lotusbits.com . Secondary components and trim are sometimes less straightforward. While the parts may not always be original spec, the contributors to these pages always seem to be able to find workable solutions. Its part of the classic car experience!

Good luck


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, just read it and am not sure I would have posted it if I had done so before.

It's difficult to run through all the things you should care about but perhaps I would recommend a common sense approach, look for a good service record or evidence that it has been well maintained privately. I would aim to by the latest model you can afford, post 98' the interior had a face lift but around then (maybe even before?) so did the clutch and bell housing to improve the weight and feel of the clutch and reduce vibrations. Early cars had cylinder liner sealant issues but if it is running well now is most likely either been fixed or won't develop the problem, make sure its not losing water with no evidence of a leak. This is well documented on the web and you should be able to find all the info you need on that.

As with all Esprits the fuel tanks are steel and prone to rust and are a real pain to replace and are not easy to check, so I don't know how you reassure yourself they are fine but something to be aware of again.

Parts are generally readily available either from Lotus or Lotus Specialists in the UK and JAE in the US (who have  a large stock as far as I can tell).

Due to their age whatever car you find is likely to have tired suspension if its not already been addressed. There are plenty of options (and guides) on how to do this but worth budgeting for.

Then it's possibly more common items like making sure all of the electrics work and hoses aren't perished. Check the cambelt service history or plan to have that done, it's not worth the risk.

I'm sure I've missed loads of details but I hope that helps. 🙂 



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

Thanks for the responses, they were very useful to get an idea of what to expect and look for in a Lotus. Alas by the time I read through it all and was convinced I still wanted a V8 Esprit, the one I was looking at got sold.

Good news is I have found another one I am interested in getting. It is being sold by a non Lotus dealer in Germany, and I have asked for the VIN and more details (to no avail so far). It has not had any service since 2017, where it had an engine rebuild, and its last regular stamps ended in the year 2000.

Based on what I have read so far, I should stay away from cars that have spotty service history, however this one caught my eye because its in my desired Blue colour, and because someone has really put money into the car back in 2017 (date of the engine rebuild):

- JE forged pistons with crown and skirt coatings
- New honing matched to forged pistons 0.004"
- New intermediate shaft bearings
- Crankshaft with OE main lines
- ACL Race Series customized connecting rods, steel backed tri-metal connecting rods - Primary injectors with 240cc/min Secondary injectors with 550cc/min
- OEM head screws
- OEM head gasket
- new sprocket idlers, idler pulleys and belt pulleys
- HD toothed belt (blue belt9)
- Zircotec-coated manifold (chilli red)
- Garrett T28 MJM Hybrid Turbos
- All engine sensors New
- Water/methanol injectors
- JAE silicon coolant hoses Control unit adaptation / software optimization
- S350 stabilizers
- S300 front brake system
- Large aluminum cooler
- GTO technology gearbox update with ATB differential

It looks to me that it may well have been owned by an enthusiast (possibly even one on this forum), so wanted to ask if anyone knows anything about this car? 

It is a 1999 round light model, and am planning to go see it once I get a response from the dealer: https://suchen.mobile.de/fahrzeuge/details.html?id=326935404&damageUnrepaired=NO_DAMAGE_UNREPAIRED&isSearchRequest=true&makeModelVariant1.makeId=15900&makeModelVariant1.modelId=7&pageNumber=1&ref=quickSearch&scopeId=C&searchId=9676421c-d93a-6a16-0cb3-66e301ccae32&lang=en

It is a bit pricey, but I am looking for a well sorted model that won't give me headaches. The mods either indicate someone who really cared and put money into maintenance, or that it was a competition car and it may well have worn internals.

Edited by Ogi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience, serve personalized ads or content, and analyze our traffic. By clicking " I Accept ", you consent to our use of cookies. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.