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I'm back from Brazil soon and I want to buy either a Lotus Esprit SE Turbo or a TVR Cerbera. I sold my S1 last year before coming out to Sao Paulo and it was by far the best car I've ever driven/owned. Depending on how test drives in both the Cerbera and Esprit go I might go back to the Elise. I've spent the past 9 months reading and researching about both cars (especially the Cerb) but I would like to know more about the Esprit SE from owners. Any advise or opinions welcome - I've been on the Lotus Esprit World website before you ask.

Thanks guys


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If the SE is running properly and boosting properly it will be a very, very fast car and you will buy it.


I ran an SE for five years and an S3 before that. On both my cars, averaging out over that period (i don't do my own work on the cars) it came to about

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Personal taste i guess mate. It's like the 'others' telling you what to wear!


The SE has styling that the Sport 300 was based on and many (including me) like it's harder edged lines. Nowadays early S4 cars and late SE cars are the same money so it would all be about what you want really.

S4 has PAS, which many guys want, although we have lady Esprit owners that have non PAS Esprits and do not cry about the fact. You don't buy a supercar for it's ease of parking at the end of the day. But if PAS is important to you then that will swing it to the S4.

Both have the same engine spec, in fact from the SE to the last 4cyl cars made the spec and performance figures did not change much, in fact the last cars made were slower. It's more about driver comfort, styling, and smoother delivery on the later cars.

I've had my SE to 160mph and it felt solid, not wheel wobble, very squat on the road and not at all like a 20 year old car. It felt (as with all Lotus) like a car that was capable of far more than i could do with it.

With the budget to buy both, i'd get an SE again, but thats just as i say down to taste. Not being a fan of the V8, the S4s is the only one of the later cars i'd be tempted by.


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Thanks for all the info, it helps alot. I see you live near Oxford! That's were I'm from and will be returning in Jan/Feb, so i'll keep you posted. I might even drop you a message to get an idea what to look out for (buying guide) sort of thing - if you don't mind that is...

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Ian, As I'm sure you know, Trevors and Lotus are very different cars so as Paul says about the SE/S4 debate its all about personal taste. My brother in law's family are TVR devotees - the male members owning a 350i, V8S, and 450 Griff between them. They are big noise, big grunt, unsophisticated V8 muscle cars. I love them, but I'd not swap my Esprit for one. I guess it also depends if your Cerb would be a coupe or roadster. If you want a roadster, then there's no Lotus competition. If you want the Coupe, then IMO the Esprit is a better car - lighter, better handling, better built - but without the V8 soundtrack. Also I guess you've already checked out the spares situation. Esprits are not without probs, but with the demise of the Blackpool company, the TVR community are very concerned and some (later) models are completely unmaintainable already.

Loving Lionel and Eleanor......missing Charlie and Sonny

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Why ask a forum dedicated to the Lotus Esprit whether you should buy a Lotus Esprit or any other type of car? You are never going to get an unbiased answer, are you?

All I can tel you to do is to drive both and then decide which you like more.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE


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I'm not stupid, I am well aware the opinions on here are sometimes going to be biased. The reason for this post is to collect as much info from people who live with the Esprit on a day to day basis. And, as I've stated in this threat - I am looking to test drive both cars when I get back to the UK.

Sorry if I pushed the wrong buttons Trevor. I thought this was a friendly forum! (I'm a member of SELOC and was given this website link to find out more)

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Hi Ian, I am sure Trevor meant nothing bad, it just came over all wrong :)

After owning a S1, you are obviously well aware if the good parts availability for such an old car. As far as i know, the SE and S4 parts are even more available, so could be cheaper to fix. The TVR could be a totally different matter.

I do love the sound of the TVR's , but my Esprit IMO would win hands down on handling, The only reason i would sell my Lotus would be to fund another!


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I think there's some confusion starting to creep in. Ian's post is a direct cross-post from SELOC and as such the S1 he's referring to is an Elise, which would have been a good introduction into Lotus ownership.

As you've discovered, LEW has a reasonable section on buying an Esprit on there and gives details of Indies and Specialists who will be able to help with parts and repairs. There is still very strong Factory backed support for the Esprit and we (LEF) have a terrific relationship with Group Lotus as a whole and individual employees alike. A number of Lotus guys are regular contributors (directly and indirectly) to the Forum.

I fairly sure we've got at least one (maybe more) Cerbie owning LEFers on here, with any luck they'll be able to give you some idea of the differences in how the two cars are as an ownership prospect. From my limited exposure to the Cerbera I can recall it being mentally fast, stupidly loud and respectable going round corners. I liked it, in a sledgehammer kinda way! :)

It didn't have the finesse of an Esprit in any way. The Esprit rewards prescision driving whereas I found the Cerbera to steamroller its way around. On the drag stip you'd need a modded V8 Esprit to be able to keep up with TVR, but in real life there won't be much in it as you'll always be going round corners quicker than the Cerbera. You may initially get frustrated by turbo lag on the Esprit compared with the instant grunt a large capacity n/a TVR can give. You'll have to adapt your driving style to overcome this, but it isn't a hardship.

I can't give you any advice on what to look for when purchasing a TVR except to state the obvious and head over to Pistonheads and absorb everything in their Cerbie area.

As for the Esprit, well, we could start a list of potential areas to look out for when buying but it'll be a long one! Don't let that put you off though - it's the same with any make of car. A good one is great and bad one will suck and make you want to cry.

Generally the Esprit is a reliable vehicle, but an SE will be almost 20 years old and as such you may get exasperated with ongoing repairs especially the quality of fixtures and fittings when you come to remove items for inspection. Stock up on grinding wheels for your Dremel.

The chassis is galvanised and I've yet to hear of one needing repair for corrosion. Having said that the tubular rails in the area around the exhaust manifold can sometimes need attention on the odd car simply due to the radiated heat from the manifold and turbo.

Exhaust manifolds can crack - expensive to purchase and time consuming in labour to replace.

Turbos are normally ok for high mileages as long as oil changes are frequent and the engine is allowed to cool before switching off.

Engines are strong. 150k miles should be easily attainable with regular servicing, before needing to open it up. Servicing is more than an oilchange - cambelt every 36k, setting the (solid) tappet clearances is time consuming. There will be oil leaks form the cam towers.

The chargecooler pump is a service item and the impellor will degrade over time and probaly fail at 20k miles. Most owners upgrade to an electic pump for longevity.

Despite the bad press, gearboxes and clutches are usually strong with problems mainly around the 2nd gear synchro, leaking from the driveshaft output seals and poor gear selection. Improved service items are available for the linkage to perk things up a bit.

Radiators, oil coolers and ac rads all corrode or get blocked up by road debris. If an SE hasn't had its original radiator replaced it will need it soon. Not fantasically expensive to have your local Sercks rebuild your rad, but a right pita to remove and replace. (Deffo need your Dremel for this.) Fans seize on cars which don't get much use.

Brakes aren't the most sophisticated on the SE, but work ok. However, upgrades are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

Springs and dampers work hard on the Esprit but replacements are available from a couple of Indies along with the impressive newly released kit from the factory.

Same story with the suspension bushes, the OE stuff wears and degrades moderately fast but the factory has a replacement Polybush project on the go. Indies will be able to supply you with their Polybush style versions, too.

Headlight motors wear and fail, the rose joints on the push rods wear and allow the pods to wobble, the drain holes in the pod recess get blocked and cause the headlights to corrode.

The electric windows can fail - sometimes a strip and regrease including beefing up the wiring can fix it, sometimes you'll be needing new motors.

Sunroofs rattle - easy fix but rarely done.

Edit to add: Petrol tanks rust like rusty things dipped in sea water.

What have I missed, guys + gals?

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You're right GKP, this is a cross post from SELOC, and I was refering to the Elise when I mentioned the S1 (didn't really think about the S1 Esprit :-(). Thank you so much for taking the time to write the above, it's a good buyers guide. It also given me a lot to think about. Handling is very important to me and the Esprit meets this criteria. I'm sorry if I came across rude in my last message, it wasn't my intention.

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Don't worry mate, nothing you have posted came across as rude.


GKP's list pretty much covers it all. The thing i'd add is that his "Brakes aren't the most sophisticated on the SE, but work ok. However, upgrades are plentiful and relatively inexpensive" is a very fair comment, but upgrades in disk size are limited by the standard OZ wheels on the SE. Most SE cars now have later wheels anyway, but the S4 wheel gives you more scope in brake upgrades.

GKP's list also is a reminder to me why i myself moved from an Esprit to an Elise. I don't think anything on Grahams list is scaremongery, and i think you should realistically consider to be able to budget for anything on it, or there will be tears.

The Lotus/V/Tvr thing i have no idea, but Lotus is STILL a company. Did you know they buy Esprits BACK from the used car market so they can develop obsolete parts? thats something that a non exsistant car copany can ever do. Also we have a link to the factory with a number you can call. Again, something a folded company could not do.

Ten years back, shopping for my S3 Esprit, the TVR 350i was a serious contender.


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As someone that came from a TVR to an Esprit, apart from obvious styling differences, I made the switch based on maintenance / parts supply and build quality. I had a 1986 280i and I can tell you my 1977 S1 is built about 100 times better. Parts I would say are cheaper for the Esprit which has surprised many and there are more vendors to buy from. With a TVR you maybe limited to just 1 or 2 vendor sources. Too me there is no real finesse to the TVRs ,in big V8 rear wheel drive straight road kind of way. Whereas the Esprit has all that heritage engineered into it. Bang for the buck, the Esprit is by far the best IMO.

Have fun choosing !

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Ian, I didn't mean to come across as unfriendly or rude but we get so many people asking similar questions and, not knowing you, I wanted you to not be misled by any glowing reports on the Esprit if it's really the TVR expereience you prefer.

I would say they are very different cars with the TVR being more about brute performance and the Lotus, like any Lotus, being more about finesse. You would have to drive them both to see which you prefer. Graham's comprehensive post covers most of the points but car buying is such a personal thing that you might find that you can't stand the Esprit interior while you love the TVR's so much that makes the decision for you. I don't want you to rush into it and then, disillusioned, sell the car a year later at a thumping loss. If nothing else, it hurts the resale values of our cars. :)

As you can see, plenty of people have owned their Esprits for a long time. I want you to be one of those.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE


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perhaps i can help you out

have owned an SE turbo and sold it for a tuscan now


the SE turbo was a smooth ride (even with all the upgrades)

it needs new brakes and another clutch to start with (they are not suited for the performance)

hopefully the former owner has done a C service and therated the car well

handling is Ok if you change the bushings

it can have a lot of small electrical setback's

the TVR is harsh and brutal

the looks are better but the handling is difficult

if you buy a cerbera (younger one) you won't have the engine problems the tuscan has

more power and less weight than the esprit

the wow factor is far bigger with a TVR than with an esprit

with an esprit people think its soemthing else

with a TVR they don't know what it is


the noise is far better


researche is something i do when i don't know what the hell i'm doing

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Thanks for all the comments guys, your views and experiances have been taken onboard. And Trevor, I understand where you're coming from, no harm done :-) I hope to spend a lot of time on this forum in the very near future - You're a good bunch! :)

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I've driven All three, SE, S4 and Cerbera

In a straight line the Cerbera is awesome (Think Speachless fast) once you arrive at a corner things are not so good unless you are a star with the steer form the rear technique. In the rain positively petrifiying is a better description!!

SE is good but a lot of the interior detailing is feelineg very dated now (door handles, switchgear etc).

S4 is more upto date and (I can't quite decide why!) feels better put together!!

Out of the 3 I would go for the S4, which is what I did!!

I also had on my list a 996 porsche, an NSX and a DB7 but they were all more money!!

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