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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Sport 350?

Maybe a dumb question, but are there any Sport 350's in the US?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 07:10 PM
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yes, I have driven one!

There were 8 in the US, I believe they were all metallic charcoal black.

There might have been a silver one.

They aren't quite like the UK Sport 350 though. They did not have the blue Engine plenum. I don't think they had the carbon fiber dash... They did have the AP Racing brakes though.

"8 units were also shipped to the U.S. Badged as 350 they where really spruced up V8-SE and even had the engine covers in red instead of the 350 blue and aren't really considered as true Sport 350's."
Esprit Models

Quote:
US Sport 350 lacks the following over the UK car:

Blue Paint on the AP calipers(they are grey teflon as they come from AP).
Springs(all other 350 suspension parts are there but with the standard V8 rates for our rougher roads).
Blue paint on the top of the motor(standard orange here).
Grey paint on the front grill inserts(they are black).
Air Bag delete.
Spare Tire delete.
Thinner body.
Seats.
Carbon Fibre option.

Additionally, they us car included the following:

A special interior with Suede headliner with silver stitching. Silver inserts on the seats and doors with black stitching, and black leather with silver stitching. This is the nicest inerior ever to come to the US and was only in the 350 to make for the lack of the sport seats.

The US Sport 350 is very much a real sport 350 and only requires that a few parts be powder coated, the removal of the spare and airbags, installation of the 350 steering wheel and springs to be almost 100% identical to UK specs. The only thing you can't change is the heavier body but my research seems to indicate that will only save 40lbs.

All of our alterations were either for marketing(it was thought that blue wouldn't work here and that the stiffer spring rates would turn people away). Or for DOT approval-the lighter body, lack of and altered seats would require the crashing of 3 cars to approve and ALL cars must have airbags from the factory.

Also, I am fairly certain that there are only 42 Sport 350s because 8 were shipped to the US at the end of the run. Instead of making them part of the 000/050 UK cars, it was decided to number them as 0/8 to make them more exclusive for the US buyers(Lotus has a history of doing this with their limited editions here). The extra blue calipers and springs are in inventory because they were not used on the US cars. I don't think there were ever any real plans to bering the 350 here until the very end. In fact, my car(1/8) only made it here in March of 2000 with the others coming later.

The Sport 350 info. is interesting. On the Lotus records the USA Cars are not designated as Sport 350s (probably due to Type Approval issues - the US authorities are very particular with model variants that may not be fully approved) To keep the car legal in the USA we have to keep the seats that were originally approved in the crash testing so we could not fit the lightweight composite seats. Also the car has to be equipped with Twin Airbags and the USA Knee Bolsters (and Spacesaver Wheel).

The European cars had the lightweight (hand - lay) body shell (not possible for USA due to crash testing) The steering Wheel is easy to change as the column is identical - Wheel and Column Switches are interchangeable. The Wing was designed to be USA Compliant from the early proposals just in case we needed to have some new parts available for use in the future.

I have all the VIN details for all the cars that were officially sold as Sport 350s. This is officially 42 for Europe. I have some VINs for a couple more that were built as Hybrids (for Directors etc.) so were not logged as Sport 350s for various reasons which I will explain later. I can also detail the RHD cars.

I should finish my investigation this week so will be able to confirm the build spec of everything that resembled a Sport 350. I will let you know the details as soon as I have them (after this you and I will be the World experts in Sport 350 build!) This situation is typical of a low volume build for a special model.

Travis
Vulcan Grey Esprit 89 SE

My Lotus Project Photo Collection
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-11-2010, 05:02 PM
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I own one.

#4 of 8. Did you have any specific questions?
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