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Old 11-27-2012, 03:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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New guy looking for some Esprit advice

Just registered the other day and hope to do a bit of researching here as I know next to nothing about the Esprit. I have been looking to get a "vintage" sports car and a coworker of mine (who also owns a small dealership) found a '90 Esprit SE for sale for a seemingly low price of ~13k with 50,000 miles but on his examination it seems to need a bit of work...

The story is the current owner, who sells big rigs, took the car as a trade with an estimated value of 15k a couple years ago.
The exterior paint is white and in decent shape but the rear spoiler and lower front end have both been painted black and that part of the paint is no good as it is peeling.
There are minimal service records available. The current owner has receipts for new tie rods, bushings, etc that he did for the car but thats about it.
Needs new shocks
Interior is tan but seats are black (is that stock/normal? I haven't seen any two tone pics like this before but I am new to the Lotus brand)
Wood dash needs refinishing and most of the dash gauges are non functional.
Engine felt good but no compression test performed.

I'm not against a bit of a project for the winter but expect that this car would require 5-7k of work to get it back up and around (maybe more???). I am looking for a bit of advice if undertaking this kind of project would be worth it as my long term goals would be to resell this car in a couple years to fund another car project I have been planning. I realize that the market is variable and it isn't easy to predict resell but if you all can give me your opinions I would be very much appreciative.

Thanks!
Todd
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Why buy one with such a sketchy history? I am sure most Esprit owners on this forum will suggest to stay away from this car when there are others out there that have service records and traceable ownership history. There are alot of expensive maintenace issues with unsorted Esprits--just read this forum!!
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't believe that one can make a profit "flipping" an Esprit. Owning one is a second, non paying, job.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Why buy one with such a sketchy history? I am sure most Esprit owners on this forum will suggest to stay away from this car when there are others out there that have service records and traceable ownership history. There are alot of expensive maintenace issues with unsorted Esprits--just read this forum!!
Mega Dittos! I shopped for 4-5 years before finally finding my current baby. I "overpaid" for it too but guess what? almost 25K miles in three driving seasons and basically zero unplanned service. Just new clutch hydraulics which was a fairly cheap and easy job. The owner I bought from was a fanatic and it shows. Good service history, only two other owners, NO stories or BS. Car drives and runs perfectly. Everything works. Paint gleems. Interior is mint. Excellent.

Ive learned that with these and other exotics you get what you pay for and do not get what you do not pay for. Period. There are NO deals. A well sorted '90 SE is a $25K car or close to it, IMO. Here is the problem - its not like buying a Camaro or a Mustang that needs a little TLC which can be handled cheaply and easily. Exotics are not always worth "restorations" and believe me once you tear into it you'll start replacing everything anyways. Then what happens is this:

You buy the car for $13,500. You put $8K++ or so into it plus tons of man hours. You arent driving it much either so the enjoyment level is minimal. Now, you have over $21K into a car thats likely NOT as nice as a $21k car would have been in the first place.

Im not doubting your capability and there is something good about reviving a tired Esprit. However, unless you have unlimited funds and time, I'd budget closer to $20K or so and just pay more upfront. You'l have a much better experience, IMO.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with the previous posts. It is likely not a worthwihle "investment," if that's what you're looking for. However...if you want to save an Esprit, with the interest of helping the community and keeping our parts guys well fed, then have at it. If you do it right, you will have terrific car in the end...

The Esprit is such a rewarding car to own/drive. It really is. It sickens me how cheap they have gotten in this economy, and seriously bothers me when I hear people picking them up for 10-15K, only to then not even finish the car (or finish it properly), as it then helps promote the theory that these are cheap, tempermental, throwaway exotics.

I am not saying this will be the case with you, but these are enthusiasts cars, and should be treated as such. They need a close eye for attention. If they are given that, with the proper care, you will never look back...

And hopefully the rest of the world starts seeing this, so the values of all our Esprits starts rising again one day...
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If you can do all the work yourself the cost of restoration is not bad. If you do not have the skills and will require shops to do the work it will be expensive. The Esprit can be an economical exotic if you know how to work on them, have a good car to start with, (ie; one that's been well maintained and taken care of), and are willing to continue taking care of the car.

And I second 91MR2's comments.

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Old 11-27-2012, 06:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Always try to buy the best car you can afford. Buying a project Lotus is not a good idea unless you have a lot of experience and know what it will take to fix it up and what parts cost. It almost never will make economic sense no matter how cheap it is. Do not buy a Lotus just because there is one for sale nearby.
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree with the previous posts. It is likely not a worthwihle "investment," if that's what you're looking for. However...if you want to save an Esprit, with the interest of helping the community and keeping our parts guys well fed, then have at it. If you do it right, you will have terrific car in the end...

The Esprit is such a rewarding car to own/drive. It really is. It sickens me how cheap they have gotten in this economy, and seriously bothers me when I hear people picking them up for 10-15K, only to then not even finish the car (or finish it properly), as it then helps promote the theory that these are cheap, tempermental, throwaway exotics.

I am not saying this will be the case with you, but these are enthusiasts cars, and should be treated as such. They need a close eye for attention. If they are given that, with the proper care, you will never look back...

And hopefully the rest of the world starts seeing this, so the values of all our Esprits starts rising again one day...
Amen, Joe. How the hell can a car as wild looking and exotic as the Esprit be so damned cheap? Yet, people will happily toss $25K at a clapped-out, rusted Ferrari 308 that prolly needs tons of work and feel like they got a deal. Seems unfair. Stoopid brand-name stuff, I guess I love 308's too, lets set the record straight on that.

If someone takes the time to reinvigorate an Esprit then Im all for it. But like you said, all too often these cars get bought for $15K and end up being too much trouble so they then get sold for $12K or whatever. The cycle repeats. Disgusting.

Damned lame owners....
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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To the OP:

I took a chance and purchased my car with no prior service records and just a Car Fax... I got lucky!
To those out there... Car Fax is NOT a complete guarantee you will get a 100% perfect car. If the customer wants to pay cash and avoid insurance claims / Car Fax to discredit the value of the car and it needs repair everyone has their price. The P/O of my car told me some things that didn't show up on Car Fax.

If you think buying an Esprit, putting some money into it and flipping off for a profit will get you money back your wrong. There was a thread about a month or two ago about a college student who purchased one from eBay and now he's screwed.

Unless your mechanically inclined to do your own work or have deep pockets this is not the car for you.

Then there are the 'Few Who Know the Difference'
I really hate those who think they are a run of the mill P 911

Last edited by Type82; 11-28-2012 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by teamacacia View Post
[snip]'90 Esprit SE for sale for a seemingly low price of ~13k with 50,000 miles but on his examination it seems to need a bit of work...
[snip]
Wood dash needs refinishing and most of the dash gauges are non functional.[snip]
my long term goals would be to resell this car in a couple years to fund another car project [snip] if you all can give me your opinions I would be very much appreciative.
[snip]
'

I'll try not to repeat (too much) of what others have already said. Check my profile/garage for details on my Esprit odyssey starting from July 2011.

Generalizations:

1. Cars are poor investments - Lotus is one of the worse. If you want a Lotus, buy it. If you want an investment, buy pork bellies - you'll do better.
2. For me, buying a Lotus was a 100% emotional decision - there is no logic in buying an old British exotic car with expensive parts and maintenance AND using it as a daily driver..
3. Budget high when buying a Lotus - I waited 32 years and set aside a chunk of money to pursue my dream (daily driver Esprit) - like the US Government, I went over budget

Was it worth it? For me, yes. But take a look at profile details and see if my experience will help you decide to take the plunge.
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Personally, I love taking on projects like this. I bought my last two Buell motorcycles totalled and rebuilt them. That said, even though Buell is out of business, parts aren't hard to come by, they aren't terrible expensive, and I've got a lot of experience with Buell cycles. I'd be leary of taking on such a project with a British Supercar... However, I'm also torn as I'd at to see a rare car wind up parted out and gone forever. All that said, I'm new too and looking for a Esprit. I want one that doesn't need work though as I don't know enough about them, and I want it to enjoy it.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:06 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Personally, I love taking on projects like this. I bought my last two Buell motorcycles totalled and rebuilt them. That said, even though Buell is out of business, parts aren't hard to come by, they aren't terrible expensive, and I've got a lot of experience with Buell cycles. I'd be leary of taking on such a project with a British Supercar... However, I'm also torn as I'd at to see a rare car wind up parted out and gone forever. All that said, I'm new too and looking for a Esprit. I want one that doesn't need work though as I don't know enough about them, and I want it to enjoy it.
Buell? Cool bikes!

It sounds like you are more where I was when I was shopping - you want a sorted out car that you can drive and enjoy today with minimal/no issues. They are out there but they are priced accordingly but IMO they are worth every penny.

Contrary to the reputation, and maybe I just got "lucky" but I find the Esprit to be reliable and good running. The car knows when you are good to it and it knows when you try to cheap out. Like Santa claus and the kids kind of thing

Drive it REGULARLY, keep a close eye on what needs attention and keep every fluid in the car changed frequently and something amazing happens: Its just like any other car. Well, it still is quirky and odd of course but mine has been nothing but a pleasure to own and operate. Im actually still amazed seeing as the horror stories pretty much make you expect every turn of the key to be a fiasco. Turns out, its not.

Buy a top-condition car for top money from a an enthusiast and you are 99% ahead of everyone else.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:49 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Hi Mikey. You've missed my intro thread in the newb section, I kinda went into detail about what I'm looking for. Just dropping my opinion here, and trailed off typing as I do sometimes lol. I love Buell cycles, I have two in the garage now(and a old twin hard tail I built, and a Ninja 500, and a Ninja 250), I had a third one too, but it was stolen.

Hey op, I just realized you are from Oklahoma no? Same person that posted here as well as the New Guy thread right? Where at in Ok?
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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To everyone who posted here, thank you for your insight and helpful tips. This thread originated on a spur of the moment offer from a colleague and I think that I'd probably best be served by sitting this one out. I may change my mind, but I don't like to rush into decisions (and my OCD for planning and details surely will slow me down).

To say I am a car guy is a bit of an overstatement. My car-fu is weak but my nerd skills are strong and I love to learn and look for challenges. I also make up for weak car-fu with a family full of auto mechanics and a family owned (uncle) auto shop.

My true quest is to have a sports car that is "different." My buddies combine to own a Ferrari 360, Lambo Gallardo x2, Audi R8, Maserati, M3, and 911. Don't get me wrong, I love these new cars but I have always been drawn to more vintages cars rather than the latest and greatest.

Firefighter, yes that was me posting in the newbie forum. I live in the OKC area at the present.
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:22 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I think you really need to decide what part of esprit ownership you will enjoy. If it is to drive one, and pay someone else to work on it, indeed find a cherry example.

If like me, you are a gear head, there can be as much satisfaction in restoring an older esprit as in driving it.

If the car has reasonably good paint, and interior you can live with, and a good engine and transaxle, I would jump on it in a second. You might want to use a professional on looking at the engine and transaxle, that is the biggest ball buster that can cost a lot to put right. But even with that, at best all he can give you is his opinion, which might not be reality on one of these cars.
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