REALLY need input before buying this V8!!!! - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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REALLY need input before buying this V8!!!!

Hello Everyone,

I REALLY need your input. I'm well into negotiating the sale of an FE (my dream car) and the buyer was kind enough to send me the service records. He bought it with about 8k miles on it and we have no info on the first owner (he's the second). He said he had to do quite a bit to it after purchase to get it sorted out. What I would like to hear from your forum members is whether these services are not out of the norm as ownership goes or if this is an inordinate amount of work and this particular Esprit sounds more troublesome than most. Below is an accounting of what has been done to date and costs incurred so far (approximate):

02/09, 8600 miles - new timing belt/tensioners/belt drive; new water pump, (2800.00)
03/09 - 9800 miles - rebuilt engine/valve job/resurfacing of heads/bore and hone block (due to multiple misfires and recurring cylinder 7 misfire/no compression); replaced engine oil cooler hoses and leaky seal; repair drivers mirror misfunction, (15,000)
06/09, 11,300 miles - new valve cover gasket; new intake air hose; new trianary switch, (370.00)
09/09, 13,200 miles - new dongle assembly; new control unit and remove immobilizer control, (350.00)
07/10, 18,500 miles - new coolant level sensor and header tank cap, (340.00)
02/11, 19,700 miles - new drivers window motor, (315.00)
02/11, 20,300 miles - new coolant feed hose (411.00)
12/11, 25,100 miles - new front coolant hose, radiator inlet hoses (656.00)
09/12, 26,100 miles - turbos rebuilt; new thermostat, replace fuel injector set (5,500.00)
09/13, 27.500 miles - new coolant level sensor; replace engine purge value; new 02 sensor (1000.00)
08/15, 30,200 miles - remove engine and replace cylinder head gaskets; new timing belts, water pump, oil pressure sender, water temp sender; resurface cylinder heads and hot tank; driver's side turbo rebuilt, (9,500.00)
08/15, 30,200 miles - new solenoid and oil pressure sender, (1500.00)

That is last service of note. Scheduled maintenance services seem to be on schedule (and was not included in the list above). So, two questions: 1) Is this a 'typical' V8 maintenance story? 2) Can I assume that since these things have been done, they won't need to be done again (Aside from scheduled maintenance)? Is this Esprit truly, properly 'sorted' now or a likely money pit? Please, your opinions so my first Esprit ownership experience doesn't become a nightmare!!!!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 01:18 PM
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Sounds like an issue with the head to block fitment.
Too many issues with coolant and combustion related parts
As the head was skimmed and shortly after the head gasket needed replacement I suspect the block.
I would also question what type of Antifreeze he was using as the hoses should not need replacement so soon

As for the electrical items its not unusual but you are wise to follow your gut feeling and ask the forum on this one

All assuming the owner was not being taken for a ride by a cowboy mechanic.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 02:00 PM
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I am no expert other than I own an FE

The V8 is generally a solid engine if maintained. As you know it is also detuned substantially so I am surprised there are two engine rebuilds, a turbo rebuild, and fuel injectors needed in so few miles. The garish cosmetic changes always raise red flags for me. I'd invest in a deep PPI before moving forward. Know these are rare but track record is concerning to me and so far (fingers crossed) atypical. There are plenty of 1998 and beyond available. Don't force it if your gut is worried.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 04:08 PM
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Horror stories like this is why I put off my dream of an Esprit and got an Evora instead.

2011 Lotus Evora N/A Quartz Silver
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 05:51 PM
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Seems this car was abused by the owner or the mechanic. If you are stretching your budget to purchase this car, I would recommend reconsidering.

Mike

'83 Esprit Turbo (The Fabulous Trashwagon)
'87 Esprit Turbo (FrankEnSPRIT)
'90 St Tropez Turbo
'04 Boxster S
'05 CO Elise, LSS, Touring, Hardtop, among others
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 06:32 PM
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Unusual to have to remove the heads so often with such low mileage. Also unusual for a turbo to have to be rebuilt with such low mileage. What is most troubling is that the heads had to be done a second time and in so little ( relatively speaking) miles. With all of the work that was also done on the cooling system I would suspect the car was severely overheated and now it won't hold head gaskets. Since the heads have been machined the problem might be the block and/or the liner seals. If the liner seals don't have the correct protrusion you will never get a good seal on the head gaskets. IMHO if the shop that did the second head job also did the first then I would not have much confidence in the longevity of the motor. It could have (and should have) been done right the first time and should not have needed a second job. Fixing it right is an expensive job (over $10K) so you might want to pass on this particular car. 2 water pumps in 30K miles is rather unheard of also. Alarming that they replaced the oil pressure sensor twice too. That doesn't go bad and to replace it twice on the same car tells me something else may be going on. No, this car is not yet "sorted out". If you are serious about this car it needs a through PPI testing cylinder pressure, leak-down, and maybe a boresope. I would also put a mechanical oil gauge on to check oil pressure, and a LONG hard drive to see if you can "shake" anything loose in the motor. A scan of the ECU to check for codes may also be revealing. If the car was flogged hard enough to overheat the motor you may also be due for a clutch. That is $3K just for the parts and if you pull the motor again you can expect to do that too. And a combustion gas test for the coolant to see if the head gaskets are leaking.
David Teitelbaum
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 08:55 PM
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A late Esprit friend had a 2003 FE and it was nowhere near the levels of maintenance that you describe of car you're considering. His car had 36K miles and other than an issue with the 2 secondary (?) injectors, it did not have the problems you described.

Cripes - my 50K miles in 49 months on a 88 Esprit were nothing like that either (see garage on left for details).

While FEs are rare, don't let that blind you to purchasing something that may be an issue.

Eddie B
87 Esprit 'SLEEK GT'
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you to everyone for your valuable input. Your insights, input from my local Lotus club, the service records (obviously) and, perhaps most importantly, my gut have told me to pass on this opportunity and to continue my search. Many thanks everyone!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2017, 03:21 PM
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good move. plenty of fish in the sea
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2017, 06:42 PM
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Wow...my first post and I'm going to comment on a car I passed on!

I too contacted this seller and was ready to buy until I saw the service records and spoke to a dealer and mechanic who both paused several moments to formulate a diplomatic comment. Then when I mentioned to the seller that I was thinking of driving it home (Sacramento to central PA over the span of a week to ten days), his comment was that he didn't think a car "like this" was mechanically reliable enough...though he'd do it in a Porsche.

After that I walked away from it and settled on a 2001 from a dealer that's been around for quite a few years.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2017, 04:01 AM
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nice low mile 16K 2003 for sale (not FE) if you are still looking. silver over black. ask is on target for a dealer. I'd give it a look if you are still in the market. can't speak for it. no connection.

Cars for Sale: Used 2003 Lotus Esprit for sale in GREAT NECK, NY 11021: Coupe Details - 452951390 - Autotrader
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