1989 Lotus Esprit Turbo Project.. nightmare? or dream?


When I was 11 years old my Grandfather showed up at our house with a orange Lotus Europa, Absolutely loved it, The car was so unique, never saw anything quite like it. My Grandfather promised me countless times that He would leave me that car, Long story short He sold it one day when nobody was looking. After years of admiring Lotus Cars I decided It was past the time to go ahead and purchase one. I had recently sold my 1971 Norton Commando that I had since I was 20 years old. I am 48 now! Only motorcycle that I actually got teary eyed when it left, had that motorcycle thru several girlfriends , marriage and divorce. Good times and bad, Had too sell it when money was tight. So about a year or so after selling my beloved Norton I started looking for a project Lotus Esprit. I had of course read all the horror stories about how you should never buy a Esprit project… I of course ignored these warnings, I also heard all the stories about British Motorcycles being unreliable and the nightmare electrics… After owning a Norton Commando for nearly 28 years and seeing that all the Horror stories were a lot of myth and ignorance, Most of the hype about British motorcycles being unreliable come from people who have a big mouth and have never actually owned a British bike. So I went ahead and did it! Found a 1989 Lotus Esprit Turbo that had been sitting for a couple years, The Owner, a Doctor who lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains lost Turbo boost and parked it. So kind of taking a chance I purchased the car. I had it towed home on a flat bed truck. Shortly after bringing it home I pulled the Turbo out, Sent it to an company called Comp Turbo in Southern California, They seemed to have done a beautiful job remanufacturing it. I decided to put in a new exhaust manifold as these are notorious to cracking, the one that was in the car had actually cracked and had been welded at some point. Took awhile for the new manifold to come from England but the price was less than half of the Local Lotus supplier that I won’t mention. Put it all back together and bam! Car runs amazing, I did have to re do the brakes front and back, luckily the fronts were originally sourced from a 1984 Toyota Corolla. As you probably already knew many small batch car manufactures do this to save money. Having to create casts and dies for every single part is an astronomical proposition. Next I had the cam belt replaced by an actual Lotus Mechanic. I really wanted to do it myself as I love to learn more about my car as I go along, However I couldn’t see being underneath my car on jack stands for a couple weeks while i figured it all out. Very limited access working on a mid engine car in this fashion. So all the belts have been done, new thermostat, new German made alternator. She’s running beautifully now, the car definitely has that special indescribable magic to Her. Some might call it character. It something you just don’t find in a mass produced vehicle. Yes I am having to work on my car however, I enjoy the process, I have read many horror stories about people owning Lotus cars, in my humble opinion these people writing these blogs probably shouldn’t have purchased a vintage sports car in the first place. It reminds me of a 1968 Triumph Bonneville I was selling some years back. A prospective buyer called me and asked about service records, gas mileage and I honestly don’t remember the ridiculous question the Guy asked that put me over the edge …but I told him “I would never sell you this Motorcycle” you are asking all the wrong questions and I really think you have no business looking at Vintage British Motorcycles. Do yourself and me a favor and go buy a new Honda or maybe a Vespa! Maybe I was a little harsh, But I think everyone wants to be that cool guy on a Vintage bike or Car but they don’t wanna have to deal with older quirky technology, they want a guarantee that nothing is ever going to go wrong. Thats just not something you get with a Vintage Motorcycle or Car, if you aren’t willing to put in the time to learn about your old car or bike it is going to be a nightmare. To me and many vintage car enthusiasts its all part of the journey and discovery of vintage car ownership. Well I have said my two cents, If your thinking of buying a vintage British car or any Vintage car for that matter, do yourself a favor and buy a service manual and join a Forum of like minded individuals and learn everything you can about your beautiful old machine. Treat Her right and She will return the love.