First time Esprit buyer needs advice...please - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2009, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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First time Esprit buyer needs advice...please

Greetings all ---

As you can see from my post count, I'm a newbie to the forum

I'm a long time Ferrari owner, but have always wanted (but not yet owned) an Esprit as well. I've recently made the decision to jump in and snatch one up in the very near future.

So far, I've done the basic research and sought some general advice from others to arrive at the conclusion that I definitely want a V8tt. I've further narrowed my choice down to the model year range of '99-'01 (US spec). With my nascent knowledge of Esprits, I confess that I cannot discern any significant differences between the '99, '00 & '01 cars.

Are there any details I'm missing? Any subtle distinctions among these model years about which I don't know?

Any advice, opinions, or information would be greatly appreciated and will help me make my final decision when the right Esprit comes along

Cheers
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 01:55 AM
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take a look at The Lotus Esprit Fact File. It has all the changes between model years. You should also read everything on that website. It'll help you find the right Esprit.

Last thing, get someone reputable to do a PPI/Compression Test before you buy.

Good Luck,

Alan
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 05:38 AM
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If your budget allows I would recommend an 02 or newer, there are some worthwhile improvments.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 06:55 AM
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get a bigger radiator.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 07:17 AM
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The most significant change from 99-00 if I recall correctly was the move from the Brembo's to the AP brakes. Huge improvement.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by 91MR2 View Post
The most significant change from 99-00 if I recall correctly was the move from the Brembo's to the AP brakes. Huge improvement.
The AP brakes were added in 02, that is one of the improvements I was referring to.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 08:39 AM
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Actually you may be right, I think the 2000 had the AP's also. 02 was when they changed the rear rights, center exit exhaust, and the OZ Nova wheels.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 91MR2 View Post
The most significant change from 99-00 if I recall correctly was the move from the Brembo's to the AP brakes. Huge improvement.
Unless the car is going to be tracked or driven hard on a regular basis, is the AP upgrade that important? I mean to say that Brembo isn't exactly "junk hardware" --- unless, was there some design problem with the Brembo setup that made the switch to AP necessary?

Also, can the later AP system be retro-fitted to the earlier cars? And, does it make sense money-wise ---- or, is it cheaper to buy the newer car with the AP already fitted?

Thanks

Last edited by finnerty; 09-09-2009 at 02:45 PM.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 03:11 PM
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The AP brakes were added in 02, that is one of the improvements I was referring to.
They were added in 2000.

Yes, the AP Brakes are really that important. The car is under-braked with the Brembos. Hardware is good quality, it just doesn't stop the car as well as the AP setup. The AP setup can be retrofitted, but they're fairly expensive. I believe the last time I checked they were around 4k.

00+ have all the "issues" with liners, etc. worked out. I would focus on those cars unless you come across an earlier car you're particularly smitten with and the owner can either document a liner job or evidence that it has zero issues in that regard.

Things to check-- all part of any decent PPI, which you really want to do:

1) Leakdown and compression check. If the numbers are not within 5-10 psi for each cylinder, run, don't walk, to another car.

2) Check that the heater/ac work properly. All sorts of little valves and stepper motors that can go wrong, and are hidden in the bowels of the dash or behind the rad. Not the end of the world if you have to change one, but be aware of it before you buy.

3) Check that the car runs reasonably cool and that the cooling fans cycle. Should read 80-90 deg. C on the gauge while cruising, 90-100 in traffic or giving it the beans (on the stock rad).

4) Check that the gearbox shifts smoothly and reasonably quickly.

5) Check for OBD codes. The cars are fairly notorious for evap and o2 sensor codes. This can be a problem if you're registering in an emissions-nazi state.

6) Check for any obvious oil/coolant leaks. Pay particular attention to the rear axle seals (where the CV shafts enter the transmission) and the turbo oil lines.

7) Check that the central locking and cobra fob work as advertised. Failure to lock/unlock can indicate a toasted CDL module, which is an amazing PITA to get at (though easily replaced with an aftermarket alarm and relay setup). Make sure you get the alarm resistor (small stick you plug into the port behind the shifter) with the car.

8) If equipped with OZ wheels, check that they are round. The OZ six spoke wheels are very easy to bend on the inner rim given the width of the barrel and position of the spokes.

9) Note any misfires or "popping" from the exhaust while idling, particularly if only coming from one bank (this is harder to note on cars with a stock exhaust). It can indicate a coil/plug wire issue, which suck to fix.

10) Check roof panel for leaks. If equipped with glass roof, check for chips, glass shards in the frame area. Check that both roof brackets function properly and are tight.

11) Check that none of the shocks are blown. Note any oil/grime on any of the shock bodies, or any "bouncy" wheels while test driving.


Things to change/replace once you get one:

1) Replace radiator with aluminum unit. Doing this will probably require making a new hose for the oil coolers, as I've yet to see a stock one that wasn't effectively welded in place and needed to be cut to remove the radiator pan.

2) Exhaust. Stock one sounds like garbage, and the stock cats ARE garbage. Replace with high-flow metallic cats, or air.

3) ECU. Upgrade to the 'has torque' map, or red if you plan on dumping the cats and want to make with the go-fast.

4) Clean out your headlight bucket drain holes before your first big rain storm with the car.

5) Safety wire the throttle cable end at the pedal. Having that thing pop out is decidedly un-fun.

6) Chances are very good one or more of your gauges will be loose in the binnacle. Remove the offending gauge, wrap the threads on the housing with teflon tape, and reinstall to fix the issue.

7) Replace the craptastic Renault coolant header tank with a quality aluminum unit.

8) If you really want to drive the snot out of the car, as it should be driven IMO, look into a stronger gearset for the transmission. There are several options available.

9) Replace the horrible Cobra alarm with a decent aftermarket unit. I highly recommend keeping the old unit so you can smash it with a hammer. It's very therapeutic.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2009, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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SIMBA ---

Thanks so much for taking the time to note all that detail --- very, very helpful to my eager education

I've got (2) Esprits I'm going to look at next week. Now, armed with your "cheat sheet", I will appear less of a rube to the salesmen. This should work to my advantage in price negotiation --- not to mention the fact that I will be able to know which is the better car and have more confidence in knowing what I'm getting into.

..........should be fun..........

Cheers
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 08:39 AM
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Thank you for the list also. As a happy Elise owner, I have always had a love for the Esprit and will be looking for one in the next year or two. Deffinately a V8 and hopefully 02~03.5

Knowledge is power and thanks for the tips.

Cheers,

Darrin

Last edited by cashxdr; 11-24-2009 at 08:46 AM.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 03:43 PM
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All of the things Simba mentioned are very important. But even more important is to see the service history of the car before you even look it over. It will tell you if you even want a particular car and if you do what areas to look at in detail. The service history on a Lotus is so important that a car without one or with large gaps in it's history is worth a LOT less then one with a complete history. I also agree that the V-8 is best from '99 on. Very few changes after '99 and they are mostly cosmetic. Get the newest you can afford with the lowest mileage. If you can you should consider getting a Lotus shop (or a Lotus mechanic) to look the car over for you. You will anyway once you buy it but if it is one you should not have bought it will be TOO LATE! Inquire with the nearest Lotus shop to where the car is currently and ask if they have any history on it. If they don't, that can be a "red flag". In my mind I would ask "Where WAS the car serviced?" Maybe at the corner gas station?
David Teitelbaum
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 10:25 AM
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I looked at a 2002 but didn't like the "cheese-grater" dual exhaust in the center of the rear valance. Also though that the painted aluminium facia panels on both sides of it looked awful.

You would have to go earlier than 2002 to get a good-looking dual exhaust system.

I have an older 1991 Esprit which has been modified to have the V-8 type of dual exhaust and rear valance.

You might also look at the various threads here on "V-8 vs. I4" as many folks (myself included) prefer the handling of the I4's to the V-8's, and the latest version of the I4's - the S4s's - are almost as fast straight-line as the V-8's.

Just a thought as you DO seem to be firmly wedded to getting a V-8.

Another advantage of the I4's is GREAT GAS MILAGE - if you don't use the turbo, it's basically a highly efficient inline 4 capable of around 35 mpg highway!

I test drove a V-8 having previously owned an I-4 and didn't particularly like it.

Last edited by wa6rxm; 03-01-2010 at 10:31 AM.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-01-2010, 11:54 AM
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Wow Simba great detail on inspection. I have had a V-8 for 7 years now and 22k miles. Just did the motor because of 2 melted pistons brought on by a defective wastegate. The alarm has never been a problem. I replaced the radiator with an aluminum one about 4 years ago (money well spent)and a brake booster failed 3 years ago (pita to find). I've replaces 2 shocks that were leaking (not too expensive $170 a piece?) and 1 clutch (about 2k in parts-easy to do)never had the headlight bucket problem, changed the plug with motor rebuild (33k miles)- nice car, does have its problems but can be delt with. I also had a 1994 S4. Seemed to handel better, but I was younger and more daring when I had it, and I did just get PS2's for tires on V-8 so it is closer to the 4 now. The V-8 has more power is more refined and more driveable (way better torque curve).
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-02-2010, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wa6rxm View Post

Another advantage of the I4's is GREAT GAS MILAGE - if you don't use the turbo, it's basically a highly efficient inline 4 capable of around 35 mpg highway!

.
Geez you are driving TOO SLOW!

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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 09:41 AM
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Having driven both, and after owning the 4 cyl. I'd always pick the 4 cyl. I love the V8, I really do, but the 4 is much easier to own/maintain/live with...

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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 11:10 AM
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The V-8 Esprit IS a lot more challenging to maintain. The timing belts being the biggest problem. Requires special tools and some expertise. In it's defense, the brakes are a whole lot easier to work on, it has a much simpler and easier to service ABS system. The transmission and shifting mechanism is better, the clutch is a lot more positive, and it has power steering, and the GM based engine management. One of the biggest disadvantages is the price of the parts. As an example a clutch on the V-8 can cost over $3K just in parts! If it's all about your budget and you want the ability to do all of your own service then the 4-cyl would be the better choice. Also since the 4-cyl Esprits would be older, they will be less expensive to buy comparing comparable condition.A V-8 as a general rule-of-thumb can be at least $8-10K more than the 4-cyl to buy. The wow factor is about the same in both the V-8 and the 4-cyl with the V-8 being heavier in the rear but a lot more torque (grunt) in the lower RPM's. As looks go most people wouldn't know the difference. Your choice will also come down to what is available to buy at the time you can afford to. There is a very limited # of S4's and S4's for sale at any given time. A larger # of V-8's if you don't care about the specific year.
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 05:31 PM
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The V-8 Esprit IS a lot more challenging to maintain. The timing belts being the biggest problem. Requires special tools and some expertise. In it's defense, the brakes are a whole lot easier to work on, it has a much simpler and easier to service ABS system. The transmission and shifting mechanism is better, the clutch is a lot more positive, and it has power steering, and the GM based engine management. One of the biggest disadvantages is the price of the parts. As an example a clutch on the V-8 can cost over $3K just in parts! If it's all about your budget and you want the ability to do all of your own service then the 4-cyl would be the better choice. Also since the 4-cyl Esprits would be older, they will be less expensive to buy comparing comparable condition.A V-8 as a general rule-of-thumb can be at least $8-10K more than the 4-cyl to buy. The wow factor is about the same in both the V-8 and the 4-cyl with the V-8 being heavier in the rear but a lot more torque (grunt) in the lower RPM's. As looks go most people wouldn't know the difference. Your choice will also come down to what is available to buy at the time you can afford to. There is a very limited # of S4's and S4's for sale at any given time. A larger # of V-8's if you don't care about the specific year.
David Teitelbaum
Hello David,

I agree with most of your points except JAE has V8 clutch set-up that is about $750. I own a 97 and 88. I really enjoy torque curve of the V8, but it is a blast to drive both cars. There really is a lot to be said about how much more refined the 97 is than the 88. They almost like two different cars. I also enjoy opening the decklid and seeing that V8 engine.

Cheers,
Alan
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