1998 Lotus Esprit V8
1998 Lotus Esprit V8
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Giorgetto Giugiaro’s “folded paper” design gave birth to some of the most well-known automotive wedges, including the Lotus Esprit. The first generation of the British sports car, dubbed the Series 1, came in 1976 and was followed by four more generations, with the last one rolling off the production line on February 20, 2004. A restyling of Giugiaro’s wedge came in 1987 and made the Esprit more rounded overall. This restyling was the only generation to not receive a “Series” number and was instead called the X180. The last generation came in 1993 as the Series 4, once more taking up the “Series” moniker. Exterior changes included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear deck lid, revised bumpers, side skirts, and valence panels. The S4 used the same turbocharged I4 Type 920 engine from the X180 SE and was the first Esprit to use power steering.
The S4 was followed up in 1994 by the S4 Sport (S4s), which added the rear wing from the Sport 300 and upgraded the engine to 301 hp. The last iteration of the four-cylinder Esprit was the GT3, which added a turbocharger and a Chargecooler to the Type 920 engine.
In 1996, the Esprit V8 was born. Gone was the turbocharged I4 Type 920 engine, and the twin-turbo V8 Type 918 was put in its place. Despite it being detuned from a potential 500 hp to 350 hp to prevent gearbox damage, it still put out a 4.4 second 0–60 mph time and a top speed of over 175 mph. A total of 10,675 Esprits were produced over the 28-year production span, with 1,237 of those being Esprit V8s.
This particular example, Chassis # SCCDC0825WHA15426, was imported from the UK into Charleston, SC, in December of 1997. It was purchased by its first owner out of Warren, NJ, in May of 1998. The vehicle was re-registered in PA when the owner moved there in 2007 before being listed for sale sometime in 2011 with just under 12,000 miles on the odometer. It was bought by its second owner out of Brewster, MA, in September of 2011.
In February of 2017, at 12,187 miles, this Esprit received a major service totaling over $10,000 at the then-Aston Martin and Lotus dealership in Waltham, MA. The service included the timing belt service with all of its associated gaskets, belts, spark plugs, an oil change, new radiator and hoses, rebuilt starter motor, new alternator, new clutch slave cylinder hose, and brake flex hoses, as well as all-new engine mounts. The car returned in March of 2017 for new air filters, front and rear shocks, and an AC system repair.
From January 2021 until November, the owner ordered a number of parts from JAE Parts out of Goleta, CA. The parts list included a fuel and oil filter, fuel pump strainers, a fuel pump repair kit, a fuel regulator valve, a header tank and cap, a radiator cap and gasket, a waterproof O2 sensor, and a charge pipe hose and gasket.
When LBI received the car in February of 2022, we found it needed further service to be fully up to our standards. We entrusted Leading Edge Autosport in West Chester, PA, with this in August of 2022 at 12,911 miles. The extensive service list is as follows: lubricated the driver’s side mirror switched, replaced the fuel gauge, replaced the cooler and heater block hoses, replaced the clutch master cylinder, installed a missing shifter cable nut, installed and wired a trunk light switch, replaced the cam cover gasket and side cam cover sealing washer, replaced both inner axle seals, replaced all eight rear control arm bushings, installed new jacking points, replaced the hood seal, replaced the heater recirculation pump, replaced the windshield washer nozzles, replaced the power steering suction hose, replaced the AC Shrader valve and O-ring, replaced the horn set, installed a driver’s ashtray, and replaced the driver’s door panel and speaker grill. To round out this Esprit, all four wheels were wrapped in new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The service bill totaled just under $11,000.
We followed up this extensive service with an October 2022 visit to Zeigler Exotic Cars in Phoenixville, PA, to install a new catalytic converter and its respective connecting pipes. A thorough detail at Museo Detail in Chester, PA, just a month later brought this Esprit back into the gorgeous condition it deserves to be in.
As it sits, this Lotus Esprit V8 is one of the best ways to enjoy one of Lotus’s most well-known sports cars. With an extensive recent service record that has sorted out any mechanical issues and an odometer showing under 13,000 miles, this Esprit is ready for your local rally event or a long road trip to Monterey Car Week or equivalents. Just hit the gas and let the turbo whoosh help you climb up the RPMs of Lotus’s eight-cylinder wedge.
Upon purchase, the new owner will receive all of the service records on file, along with the original owner’s booklet, toolkit, and spare.
Body And Paint
This Esprit presents beautifully overall. From studying the texture in the finish, it appears to be original paint throughout, with no signs of prior paintwork. As this car has a composite body, we are unable to meter this car. It is straight down the sides with good (for Lotus) panel fitment and, overall, appears to have never been taken apart, in an accident or to have been refinished. The clear vinyl protecting some areas, such as the lower portion of the rear bumper and the brake cooling duct edges, is cracking, faded, and aged.
Glass And Trim
The glass appears to be the correct original Triplex glass throughout. The windshield does show a couple of little chips, and some of the rubber trim around the window frame and windshield has shrunk ever so slightly. It could be kept as is or replaced.
The wheels, unique to the V8 Esprit, show to retain their original finish and center caps. It should be noted that 3 of the 4 wheels do have minor curbing.
There are a few pencil-point-sized chips in the paint that can be found, most notably on the driver's side front fender near the A pillar.
Seats And Surfaces
The interior has been very well-kept during this car's limited ownership. The seats, surfaces, center console, dash, door cards, kick panels, headliner, etc… are all in excellent condition. There is some light wear to the driver's bolster, consistent with the mileage. Otherwise, the only obvious item of concern is the missing passenger door trim piece.
Functionality And Accessories
All systems, buttons, or otherwise are in correct working order with no issues to note.
A piece of door trim is missing on the passenger side door. We have been trying to source a new one, but have not yet located one. If we do find a replacement we will update this section.
ENGINE BAY AND TRUNK
The trunk and engine bay share the same general area. Upon opening the deck, we see a very tidy engine bay with no issues to note. Clean and correct. Removing the engine cover shows the Twin Turbo V8, which upon further inspection of the engine bay, shows that this car has seen use but also service. It could benefit from detailing but is otherwise in the correct order in terms of being operable and performing.
The underside is essentially untouched, and the condition reflects the miles. This area of the car would benefit the most from dry ice blasting, it would absolutely turn the underside into perfection if pursued by the next owner. Otherwise, it is free of any major leaks (though one or two are present - this is a Lotus), and everything appears to be complete and in place.
This car starts easily, and calms down to a steady idle after an initial start. It builds/holds temperature and oil pressure within the recommended ranges and is overall a powerful unit ready for use. No issues to report, thanks to just recently receiving a comprehensive servicing.
A notorious week spot on Esprits, this correct original Renault-sourced unit is in excellent condition with no issues to note. Operating as expected with a good clutch, good synchros, and shifting without issue. It should be noted that modifying this car's power output is what will create a possible transmission failure for this vehicle, as has been a common problem for V8 Esprits. This one, in its stock form, is in excellent condition.
Brakes And Suspension
The brakes and suspension are also in excellent condition. The ride is firm but quiet, and the brakes grip hard with no pulsating or pulling under hard use.
The tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 285/35/R18 in the rear and 245/40/R17 in the front; all have date codes of 2021 and were just installed.