An honest reflection on Esprit ownership..... - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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An honest reflection on Esprit ownership.....

OK so - as many of you know I sold my 87 HCi to a fellow member here and after some time to get settled into NOThaving the car anymore I thought I'd share my very honest opinions about the car and owning it for 5 years & 30,000+ miles.

The GOOD:

1) It was well worth buying a car in top-condition and paying more to do so. I was able to drive the car for years and years without worry and that made the whole process much more enjoyable than having to dick with it immediately.

2) The car was VERY reliable for me. Other than clutch hydraulics(slave/master) and tires, I didnt have to spend anything on unscheduled services. She always fired up and ran great for me. I just kept the fuids fresh and drove the car OFTEN and it seemed to like that treatment.

3) The car is a definite attention getter and in most cases this is a positive thing. Its fun to own a cool car like this and to share info about it. Makes ya feel good. It carries the "exotic" persona very well.

4) The car drove and rode amazingly well for a hardcore sports car. We used it on some longer trips and it was just like a regular car except WAY cooler. Mileage is also very good. Extremely happy with the driveability and overall "quality" of the ride and such.

5) It is soooooo damned good looking that I found myself constantly peeking in the garage frequently just to "cop a look". The design cannot possibly get old and this car STILL makes 99% of whats on the road look lame and boooring. Sorry in advance to owners of "regular" cars but until you've owned an exotic you have NO idea about garage peeks

6) It makes the neighbors think you're crazy and/or have a lot of extra cash to waste. My car wasnt expensive per say(minivan money) but as a TOY its a little overboard for our modest neoghborhood. They probably thought I was selling crack or something. Ultimately though - its COOL and strokes yer ego a bit. Cant deny it

7) Oh yeah - the Lotus family of owners is quite the group. Ive had luck with BMW clubs and Porsche clubs too but the Lotus posse IS the best. I mean that too. Should you have issues, there is always help and the Lotus guys will do whatever it takes(Atwell??? ) to get you going again.

The BAD:

1) The "value" of these cars seems to be stuck in a perpetual mode of being stagnant or dropping making them a very dodgy "investment". Now, I understand that few people buy these cars with investment in mind but if you look at competing cars from Ferrari and such, like the 308 which are always going UP it does upset you that the Esprit just cant crack $20K, even for almost perfect ones. Yet, a dodgy, 2-valve 308 fetches $30K now. makes ya sick. It just seems like even these great HCi cars will NEVER go any higher. They are stuck forever in the $15K to $20K range. Sucks. In other words, you WILL lose money on these cars faster than most other exotics. The low values add to the shady reputation and it allows any jacka$$(like me) to afford one. Thats NOT a good thing

2) Most of the regular service items, like the oil filter and air filter are in HORRIBLE locations making service a complete pain in the arse. Its maddening how "dumb" they were to do this. Just be prepared to scratch your head a LOT when working on this car. And, the major service is even more night-marish, IMO. My goodness why didnt they do a horizontal engine mount like the 308? ARRGGHH!

3) Lots of people do NOT know what these cars are and assume they are a Lambo or a Ferrari. Whats wrong with that? Well, its disappointing to some when they find out its not Italian. I believe it also hurts the cars image from a standpoint of people assuming that "Oh look, that clown thinks hes cool with his cheap English car trying pose as a Lambo guy" kind of thing. Some may not care about this but Im puting in the negative column nonetheless.

4) Certain parts are getting harder and harder to come by and it will get worse before it gets better. This is true for any small-production run exotic but at some point it could get really ugly. There just arent many of these left so there is little incentive to make parts.

The VERDICT:

A great sports car from the 80's that should make any owner happy. Thye good points outweigh the bad as long as you are privy of the value issue and the PITA service stuff. Anyone hunting down a G-car Esprit would be wise to stick to the HC models from 86/87. They are simply better cars than the earlier ones and dont cost a whole lot more.

Ill still be here for questions and such. I DO feel I know the cars well!

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 05:48 AM
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Nice write up.

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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 08:40 AM
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Here is my 2 cents:

It is a toy, joy and testosterone replacement therapy.

"NO OTHER MAN-MADE DEVICE, SINCE SHIELDS AND LANCES OF THE ANCIENT KNIGHTS, FORFILLS A MAN EGO LIKE AN AUTOMOBILE"
[Sir William Rootes]

Lotus ownership is a money pit event (best to use Schedule C of your 1040).

If you are not mechanically astute individual, you'd better have a thick wallet.
Even if you have $$, it is hard to find qualified mechanics, who can work on them without FUBAR-ing anything.

Sex is possible only on the passenger side.

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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 09:09 AM
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Nice write up...Mikey!

The fact that you took the time to write all this tells me that deep inside, despite all the headaches, you are really missing her. Come on...admit it!

I should know and can relate since I have been there. I have sold an Esprit twice in my life before already. Like I always say...when you first sell it, you have a really happy elated feeling like you got away with murder before something really major broke or happened. Soon after though, that feeling is replaced by a painful, aching, empty, awful sinking feeling that only gets worse over time...and there is only one cure.

Once you've had one, it's hard to get these cars out of your system. With cars like this, there is so much passion that common sense and logic go right out the window.

Like that vintage Lotus ad said...it doesn't compete with other cars...it competes with SEX.

Hoping that you are well!

Roy

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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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Nice write up...Mikey!

The fact that you took the time to write all this tells me that deep inside, despite all the headaches, you are really missing her. Come on...admit it!

I should know and can relate since I have been there. I have sold an Esprit twice in my life before already. Like I always say...when you first sell it, you have a really happy elated feeling like you got away with murder before something really major broke or happened. Soon after though, that feeling is replaced by a painful, aching, empty, awful sinking feeling that only gets worse over time...and there is only one cure.

Once you've had one, it's hard to get these cars out of your system. With cars like this, there is so much passion that common sense and logic go right out the window.

Like that vintage Lotus ad said...it doesn't compete with other cars...it competes with SEX.

Hoping that you are well!

Roy
Thanks, Roy - and yes...I miss her of course. But, I dont miss worrying about it, not being able to use my garage hardly at all for anything but the car, and all of the other things that can make owning an exotic "testy".

And, once you've owned an exotic - it really does make every other car seem mundane and completely uninteresting. I dont even turn my head anymore at cars unless they are exotics, meaning Italian or English. Mustangs, Vettes, and anything else out there just makes me yawn. Not a knock against those cars, just saying that exotic cars "do something" to both their owners and passersby that "regular" cars just can NOT do. Even the new C7 Vette is already "old/doesnt matter" to me because as always they are popping up in mass quantities everywhere like a Honda Accord. It took a whole two months for them to get to be "meh". But, a 35 year old 308 or Esprit drives by and I still get all giddy

Not hating - just stating the facts.

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?
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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 11:58 AM
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So, I have to ask - did you end up buying another fun car or just saving for another Esprit later?
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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 01:43 PM
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OK so - as many of you know I sold my 87 HCi to a fellow member here
So you sold it. Funny how things work out. We bought ours around the same time, had a straw that breaks the camel's back at the same time, and now I've decided to sell mine too....

Interesting that you sold it here. I didn't bother listing it here since I figure everyone on this board already owns one. Maybe I should reconsider...

Best of luck, maybe we will end up with 308s together ;-)

Rob
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 01:53 PM
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A good perspective of your unique ownership experience, they are all different. A friend who owns a Gallardo gets pissed (frequently) when people mistake it for one next to his, I tell them its a Lotus and can be bought for the price of a clutch in his car (of which he has recently had to replace, seems they are only good for 12k miles !, who does that !!!)
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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A good perspective of your unique ownership experience, they are all different. A friend who owns a Gallardo gets pissed (frequently) when people mistake it for one next to his, I tell them its a Lotus and can be bought for the price of a clutch in his car (of which he has recently had to replace, seems they are only good for 12k miles !, who does that !!!)
Freegin Italian cars.... JUNK.

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So you sold it. Funny how things work out. We bought ours around the same time, had a straw that breaks the camel's back at the same time, and now I've decided to sell mine too....

Interesting that you sold it here. I didn't bother listing it here since I figure everyone on this board already owns one. Maybe I should reconsider...

Best of luck, maybe we will end up with 308s together ;-)
Ya know, a 308 was always a favorite car of mine but they are getting prohibiively expensive these days. People are trying to get $30K for semi clapped-out 2 valve GTSi cars which are the least desireable. A good carbed 308(my FAV) are pushing $35K now. QVs are $40+ thousand. Fock that chit. The Mondials are the only ones left that are reasonable but they arent as cool as 308's. Heck, for what a 308 costs now you can look at a 348 but Ferraris are SO damned expensive to keep happy. They make an Esprit seem like a Honda civic. My buddy has an '84 308 qv and while I love the car even he admits that its "stupid" what parts costs and how frequently it needs "stuff". Very hard cars to buy for us normal folks

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So, I have to ask - did you end up buying another fun car or just saving for another Esprit later?
For now, Im sitting tight. Bought an ATV for some fun on the trails around here. Thats it though for the time being. My mortgage is DONE in exactly 28 more payments and then things open up for me. Not really sure yet. Some cars Ive always wanted(other than a G-Esprit):

1) Ferrari 308
2) Acura NSX

Those two are at the top of my list but then again the Ferrrai 355 is the BEST looking car Ferrari has made in years and I sooooooo want one. But, they'll bankrupt a normal guy like me quick. Tough cars to buy. Just not sure at this point.

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?

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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 08:51 PM
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NSXs will be even more expensive in a few years..... They're nuts.

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post #11 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 02:59 AM
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I've got a '86 Mondial coupe (3.2) and it's a great car. It has the same engine as the 328. I bought it over a year ago....just before the current "price run" started. Parts are expensive; however, it's not hard to work on.

I've always liked the Esprit. Although I've owned over 80 cars in the last 30 years I've never owned a Lotus. I have 13 cars now (not counting DD's) so I need to get one or sell a car to get off the unlucky number...lol

Thank you for your summary. The Esprit sounds like other other classic cars I have owned. I think if you go into any classic car ownership expecting Honda reliability you will be sorely disappointed. Even my Porsche 914-6 (which is a pretty basic and reasonably reliable car) is clamoring for attention on the brakes this week.

I haven't heard anything that would scare me off. Since I am looking for a charge cooler I know it will take a while to find the right car. Buying the best car you can afford applies to any classic car....not just to Lotus. All will be money pits if bought incorrectly....and usually even if bought correctly! I've learned that lesson way too many times!
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post #12 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 07:08 AM
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post #13 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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NSXs will be even more expensive in a few years..... They're nuts.
Yeah - they really are. And, even though they are Hondas are are not as quirky or weird as an Italian or English car they are still OLD and many will have hi miles on them. They'll need stuff just like any other car. And being mid-emgined means access is dodgy like any other mid engine car.

And, if they get too expensive then the "what else could I buy for the same money" starts to come into play!

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I've got a '86 Mondial coupe (3.2) and it's a great car. It has the same engine as the 328. I bought it over a year ago....just before the current "price run" started. Parts are expensive; however, it's not hard to work on.

I've always liked the Esprit. Although I've owned over 80 cars in the last 30 years I've never owned a Lotus. I have 13 cars now (not counting DD's) so I need to get one or sell a car to get off the unlucky number...lol

Thank you for your summary. The Esprit sounds like other other classic cars I have owned. I think if you go into any classic car ownership expecting Honda reliability you will be sorely disappointed. Even my Porsche 914-6 (which is a pretty basic and reasonably reliable car) is clamoring for attention on the brakes this week.

I haven't heard anything that would scare me off. Since I am looking for a charge cooler I know it will take a while to find the right car. Buying the best car you can afford applies to any classic car....not just to Lotus. All will be money pits if bought incorrectly....and usually even if bought correctly! I've learned that lesson way too many times!
You're welcome, Bill. You know the drill, obviously with your vast car collection. There is NOTHING about an Esprit that should scare anyone except for a crappy previous owner. They are actually good cars, IMO and mine exceeded my expectations as far as reliability was concerned. She never let me down or stranded me and my confidence level with the car got to the point where we would use it like any other car. Thats a big statement to make! Good Luck in your search.....

Page 65, Section LD - what ya wanna know?
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post #14 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 09:34 AM
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The Honda reliability is a VERY big plus about the NSX; lots and lots of those guys have 200k+ miles on their cars.

But they're old enough now that you have to worry about the age stuff - suspension rubber, coolant hoses, etc etc.

Obviously this is subjective; but I just don't think you get enough car for the price with the NSX. If I were to buy an NSX for the money I spent on my Esprit, I would have gotten a 200k+ clunker, or a salvage.

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post #15 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 10:25 AM
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Bill,
Wow...over 80 cars in the last 30 years and yet you've never owned a Lotus?

It's time!!!!!

Get an Esprit...like the old saying goes, "What's the worst that could happen?" LOL

BTW, crazy thing about the number 13, it has traditionally always been lucky for me...not sure why.

Roy

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I've always liked the Esprit. Although I've owned over 80 cars in the last 30 years I've never owned a Lotus. I have 13 cars now (not counting DD's) so I need to get one or sell a car to get off the unlucky number...lol
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post #16 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 10:34 AM
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You're welcome, Bill. You know the drill, obviously with your vast car collection. There is NOTHING about an Esprit that should scare anyone except for a crappy previous owner. They are actually good cars, IMO and mine exceeded my expectations as far as reliability was concerned. She never let me down or stranded me and my confidence level with the car got to the point where we would use it like any other car. Thats a big statement to make! Good Luck in your search.....
Well...I admit I am a glutton for punishment. My "collection" (such as it is) includes several MGC's, MGB's, TR6, Porsche 914's, Ferrari, and Alfa Romeo. None are paragons of reliability

Not the greatest picture, but here is one of the Mondial

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post #17 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 10:38 AM
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Love the Honda reliability of the NSX, but in my book, there is no comparison to the Esprit...it is a very different kind of car despite the similar layout. I believe they are way over-priced for what they are too. The NSXs are great cars and do everything well though, perhaps too well, in a Honda sort of way. That is not necessarily a compliment.

There is no way in the world that I could ever choose an NSX over an Esprit...however, if it was in addition to an Esprit, I think it would be pretty cool. The stock ones are a little too plain for me, but have seen a few NSXs with the Veilside widebody kit at SEMA over the years which have had me drooling. I heard that body kit was $10K and comes with two Swarovski crystal emblems...LOL

Roy
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post #18 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 10:42 AM
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Nice Mondial!
I had a chance to buy a convertible version from a friend back in the mid-90s...I passed on the car, but always wondered what it would have been like.

I used to be into Alfas at one time too. After I sold my last Alfa, I temporarily had no fear of any used cars...everything else seemed so reliable to me after that...LOL I miss it though.

When I got my first Lotus Esprit, I used to joke that it was like an Alfa with a bigger price tag on parts...LOL I no longer think that way, but it was hilarious at the time.

Roy
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post #19 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 12:32 PM
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Beautiful color on the Mondial.
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post #20 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 12:40 PM
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I love the design of the NSX. Think it looks great. I was going to get one until I test drove it. I did not like having to wring it past 6000rpm to feel anything in it. Especially in the older 5 speeds. The fun was starting at over 60mph in 2nd gear. That's in stark contrast to the torque from our turbo engines.

Easier to get in and out of and to change gear, also to see out the front. Nothing else, did I find better in it. For the price they are commanding now, I would prefer the 911 all day long or a V8 Esprit that it does not even come close to.

The Esprit is still the value proposition of the group (unfortunately if you already have one and great if you don't)

Cheers

Rob

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