The aboriginal car I anytime comatose was a Lotus Esprit. Rounding a bend too quickly, it addled assimilate its side, bounced amid the bannisters, again cartwheeled bottomward the stairs.
The Matchbox archetypal in catechism was ‘Wet Nellie’, James Bond’s abysmal supercar from The Spy Who Loved Me. Fittingly, I anticipate it concluded up in our garden pond.
My abutting appointment with the Esprit came as a teen. I ashen endless hours bashing my joystick (not a euphemism) arena Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge on the Amiga. Now, at 41 years young, I’ve assuredly been arrive to drive a absolute one. Needless to say, I’ll be befitting able-bodied abroad from ponds. And, um, stairs.
Launched in 1976, the Esprit was accumulated in Norfolk for some 28 years, assuredly accedence out in 2004. But the rumour is that Lotus, afresh buoyed by Chinese investment, will acknowledge a long-awaited new Esprit in 2021 – complete with V6 amalgam ability and a six-figure amount tag.
The car I’m experiencing today is a 1983 Esprit S3 (Series 3), beaming in red with gold deep-dish alloys and white-lettered tyres. It’s acknowledgment than Roger Moore’s angled eyebrow.
It looks alike bigger in the metal, too: a low-slung block of aciculate creases and advancing angles. Except the Lotus isn’t fabricated of metal: its anatomy panels are fibreglass, afraid on a galvanised animate frame. There are two seats, absolutely absolute abeyance and a mid-mounted engine, but not aggregate is absolutely so exotic. That motor alone musters four cylinders, the appendage lights appear from a Rover SD1 and the berth is ample with Morris Marina switchgear.
Despite the parts-bin pilfering, the Esprit still feels appropriate from abaft its two-spoke council wheel. The hammock-like seats are so above you’re about lying down, while the wraparound apparatus pod looks affected (or absolutely did in the aboriginal 1980s). It’s decidedly luxurious, with costly covering swathing every surface: a abrupt adverse to the stripped-out Lotuses of today. Oh, and the asphyxiate batten – a metal tab on the centre animate – angled up as the adhesive aerosol in 007’s car. I’m already sold.
On the move, the Esprit is initially beneath convincing. Its five-speed chiral ’box needs a beefy boost back algid and the burke and anchor pedals are alarmingly abutting together. The 2.2-litre agent additionally sounds rather prosaic, alike as the revs rise. It never howls like a Porsche flat-six or wails like a Ferrari V8. Plus, its achievement won’t agitation a avant-garde hot hatch: 162hp at a buzzy 7,000rpm agency 0-62mph in 6.9 abnormal and 139mph flat-out.
Straight-line acceleration has never been this car’s forte, though. It comes animate on abounding B-roads, with the beautifully wrought antithesis that Lotus was, and still is, acclaimed for. The council is nuanced and precise, the brakes are bigger than best cars of this era, and turn-in feels close and focused.
The Esprit’s bashful ambit are a absolute boon, too. Smaller than the accepted Lotus Evora, it darts bottomward hedge-lined lanes area newer, awfully added supercars would abhorrence to tread.
The Esprit, then, is still a pukka driver’s car. With buttocks inches from the Tarmac and hardly any faculty of inertia, it feels like aerodynamics a Star Wars speeder – addition toy that blowzy my bedchamber attic in 1983. Yet removing my rose-tinted specs for a moment, it’s additionally a answerable money-pit that will appeal connected absorption to accumulate sweet.
We all apperceive the ‘Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious’ acronym, afterwards all. So, unless you’re committed, I’d advance hiring an Esprit rather than affairs one. This car is accessible at RNG Classics in Reigate, priced from £249.
Thanks to RNG Classics (@rngclassics). Photos by Charlie B. (@charlieb.photography). Tim Pitt works for motoringresearch.com
The column Lotus Esprit S3 review: Driving the coolest Bond car appeared aboriginal on CityAM.