Life expectancy of a V8tt ? - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Life expectancy of a V8tt ?

In my hunt for an Esprit, I've come across an "interesting" example. It's a '99 with 57,000 miles on the clock. Believe it or not this car is in fantastic shape --- nicer than several others I've looked at which had far fewer miles. This car has great ownership history and has been very well cared for its entire life ---- all service records documented and present since delivered new.

I can buy the car for a very attractive price (due to the high mileage), and that includes the $3K I've budgeted for the things it will need soon after I buy it --- cam belts, valve adjust, and the usual "while-you're-at-its".

None of this scares me off (maybe it should?!). Compression and leak down tests have been done, and everything is within spec.

But, my concern is even given the great condition, and following completion of the belt service, am I going to be stuck with a Money Pit down the road? Because of the high mileage, is every little (and not so little) thing going to soon fall apart or start to wear out? I mean to say, "How many miles can you expect from a V8tt engine?". How many miles can you rack up before the suspension is shot, etc.????

Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge of one with high miles? How many miles before one of these cars is "done", and needs a massive rebuild / restoration?

Should I even be considering buying this car?

Last edited by finnerty; 09-11-2009 at 07:08 PM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by finnerty View Post
... Esprit... '99... Money Pit... fall apart...
It's a Lotus. More to the point it's a '99 Esprit.

Originally Posted by finnerty View Post
Should I even be considering buying this car?
Do you love it?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RoadDad View Post
Do you love it?
Well, it is the color combo I'm looking for

As for "love".... yeah, probably.... But, then again, I'm pretty fickle.......

I'm sure I could love a different one just as much
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 07:16 PM
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As with most exotic cars, a well driven example will generally be in better shape than a low-mile garage queen. If the compression numbers are good and everything else checks out, I wouldn't be any more or less hesitant than a car with, say, 30k on the clock.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Simba View Post
As with most exotic cars, a well driven example will generally be in better shape than a low-mile garage queen. .

It sounds like a good car. If it hasn't been driven much LATELY you might have some shakedown problems to iron out.

I know of a few V8s with over 50K miles, and a few 4 cylinders with over 100K miles, still going strong.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-13-2009, 08:41 AM
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Just a few observations from owning an Esprit for almost ten years...

Reliability isn't that bad. Let me say it again - it's not that bad. For an exotic, these are remarkably reliable. Try a Mazzer or Lambo, they're a nightmare. Sure, Top Gear loves them, but Top Gear isn't paying to keep them on the road. Jezza bought a Ford GT, after all. No fool, he. With the Esprit, there is the occasional issue that comes from any vehicle when things are packed in tight, and performance is at a premium, but they are not by any means unreliable.

Service isn't simple, but it isn't impossible. In fact, working on my 90 SE, a 4 cyl model, is in a lot of respects easier than my 2001 Mercury Sable wagon. I can pull the fuel pump without removing the tank. I can actually get to the alternator without removing the inside of the fender. Change the plugs in fifteen minutes. Yes, my fan thermostat seems to be out, but just flip on the AC in traffic, temps come back down.

Parts can be expensive, or they can be remarkably inexpensive, if you know what you're looking at. Unlike the other exotics, Lotus doesn't believe in reinventing the wheel. If they can get the mundane components from someone else, so much the better. Some of the Esprit is off the shelf from GM or Toyota, my taillights are from a mid 80's Corolla. Price up a taillight lens for a Boxter... Some of those parts may be from a Euro model, so they can be a bit difficult to obtain, but still cheaper than the equivalent Porsche part.

Most people who have horror stories about Esprits were paying someone else to do all the service. If you're going to own one, it is highly recommended that you have some mechanical skills. You don't need to know how to overhaul an engine or transaxle, but it's a good idea to be able to diagnose minor problems, so you aren't paying someone else $120/hour to learn how to diagnose problems. Quite often, it's just a minor quirk. $500, please.

Example: someone at my office owned a 90 SE like mine. In four years, he put over $10k into service, taking it 80 miles to a non Lotus certified mechanic for everything. In ten years, I've put maybe $3k, and that includes $750 for tires recently. I do all the work myself, including a recent cam belt change and fuel system overhaul.

You're in luck with the 99, it has OBDII diagnostics. Get an OBDII reader, it can reveal an amazing amount of detail. Like having a mechanic standing next to you.

Don't drive it like a fool. Especially on the V8's, the transaxle and clutch are being pushed pretty hard. Respect that, and they'll live. Forget the cheap thrills of a tire smoking start, roll on the power on a long, sweeping ramp, you'll get a far bigger thrill than any drag racing start that could fry the clutch. Gentle power transitions reward this vehicle's handling, anyway.

Oops, gotta go. All this talk reminds me that it's a beautiful day, and there are roads in dire need of exploring... which is the other reason to get one.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-13-2009, 08:45 AM
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Would this color combo happen to be as rare as, let's say, Azure Blue over magnolia?

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-13-2009, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Nope. It's a fairly common color combo --- silver / black. I like the blue / tan as well, however --- do you know of one for sale?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-13-2009, 03:54 PM
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Very well said Trapper John...

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-14-2009, 07:07 AM
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I like your taste. '98 Azure Blue/Magnolia-Blue Piping
Got it last Feb. Love It!! Wanted Black on Tan but this was
way to hard to resist!!
(2 cents on thread)
Just got back from a 1000 mile trek no more issues with the
Esprit on a long trip than my BMW. Only issue was about 200 miles
from home Welding cracked at Cat where aftermarket straight pipes
were added. Just needs to be re-welded. I have it worked on
by Lotus of Atlanta and although not inexpensive it is not outlandish for the
car you get to drive for the tariff. My V12 BMW can easily be more expensive
to repair. Can not speak aout 46K miles since I got mine with 17500 but now have 20500, however as stated above if it is a well maintained Esprit I do not think it would be a bad investment.
Just make sure you dont overextend yourself on the buy and wont be able to maintain/fix it correctly. I hope it works out for you, because I believe that driving the Esprit is much more fun and really,really less expensive than therapy!!

PS sorry for the size of the photo - how do you resize??
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-14-2009, 07:37 AM
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there are going to be a lot of little things to sort on it. mine had about 50k at sale, and due to the massive repairs i did, ran the best the day i sold it.
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know." (rumsfeld)
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-07-2010, 09:50 PM
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I think I bought the Silver Esprit that Finnerty is describing. Great car!

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 06:21 AM
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With 50K on the clock if the following hasn't been done expect to do it if not now then in the not too distant future if you start putting the miles on:
Rebuild the turbos
Replace the clutch
A full "C" service (not just the belts)
At 50K miles the motor is more than 1/2 "done". It's performance will be less than a lower mileage car. You probably will not notice. If the car was not used much lately expect a lot of little things to 'sort out". What is the "attractive price'? Are you getting all of the "bits" that are supposed to be included like both roofs, 2 complete sets of keys, tool kit, etc? Condition of the car has a LOT to do with how it was driven and taken care of. Mileage is not everything. A low mileage car can be a "money pit" if it was beat on. BTW just the parts for the clutch are over $2K. The brake and clutch fluid is supposed to be changed EVERY year. If it wasn't expect problems with the brake and clutch systems.
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