Earlier this year, one of our customers told us about an exceptional car that we immediately wanted to learn more about. Luc F.’s 1987 Lotus Esprit HCI is a classic supercar that is both rare and beautiful. We are thankful that he gave us permission to share it with you.
What separates this machine from your average mass-built sports car is not just its rarity or the hand-crafted leather interior. It’s also not the fact that this Lotus was hand-built in England. What makes a Lotus so special is the engineering that stems from 60 years of extraordinary racing success. We’ve never had the pleasure of driving a Lotus, but by all accounts, it is an exhilarating experience that one will not soon forget.
We were pleased that Luc chose our AMSOIL Z-Rod Synthetic 20W-50 Engine Oil to protect the turbo-charged engine. As this high-compression Lotus engine is equipped with flat tappet camshafts, Z-Rod is a superb motor oil choice.
Luc was generous enough to offer this description of his Lotus along with a brief history of the Esprit model.
“The Esprit is a mid-engine car that designed by Giorgetto Guigiaro from Ital Design for
Lotus cars of the UK. It was presented to the public for the first time in Turin in 1972. The first production Esprit came off the line in 1976.
The initial Esprit came equipped with an atmospheric 2.0L 16V engine designed in-house by
Lotus and was developing 160HP. The engine design was all-aluminum with steel sleeves. It was used in different configurations until 1996. When enlarged to 2.2L with a turbo
and charge cooler, it was producing 300HP in the Esprit S4s.
The car rides on a typical Lotus backbone chassis consisting of a central steel boxed section
which is attached a tubular cradle for the engine at the back and suspension attachments
at the four corners. The body shell is built of fiberglass and consists of two halves glued at
the waste band and bolted to the chassis. This layout was kept until the end of the
production with the last edition of the V8 in 2003.
Two different body styles were used over the years, the Giugiaro design from 1976 to 1987
and the (Peter) Stevens design from 1988 to 2003.
I bought this particular car from a broker in Pennsylvania after 5 years of checking ads and the internet. It had 21,000 miles on the clock and used to be owned by a collector in New Jersey.
Only around 600 units were produced with the HCPI (High Compression Petrol Injection) engine from
from 1986 to 1987. They featured a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system with a Lambda sensor which was adapted for the turbocharged engine. Other normally aspirated and turbo cars were
equipped with Dellorto carburetors (or Stromberg for the federal version). One of the reasons
this particular model was chosen is the stability that an injected fuel system offers after long
intervals without running it (which can be an issue with carburetor versions).
This car is one out of just 12 cars in the black and gold color scheme issued for the USA market. Total turbo production numbers for the G model were around 2200 units which makes it a pretty uncommon car. Prices are surprisingly low and part of the reason is the perception by the public of the
fiberglass structure and parts availability. On that subject, it is a misconception to believe
that parts are hard or extraordinarily expensive to get. There is a great market out there for
these cars and since the engines are sleeved, available kits allow you to overhaul your
engine without even coming close to what a Ferrari or Porsche engine rebuilt would cost
you. There is also great support from Forums (The Lotus Forum from UK comes to mind)
where no questions remain unanswered. This is a real bonus when you are new to the brand.
Maintenance is a pain (like any mid-engine car), but it is part of the fun of buying an exotic
car. Like any special car, if you don’t take care of maintenance yourself, costs can get
astronomical. That been said, with a little patience, the right tools and good advice, it has been a
very reliable car up to now.
Driving the Esprit is really special, it feels like what you would expect from a Lotus. Very
direct and connected to the road, sometimes a little too connected on rough back roads.
This car feels at home on nice sweeping roads or highway at any speed. You will get up to speed in a very linear way with no sudden push from the turbo and you will get there fast if
you keep it on the boost. Lag, like any turbo of that era is an issue, you just need to learn to
deal with it.”
Thanks very much to Luc F. for sharing his photos and offering a description of this very special car.