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General Information

Turbo Esprit
Calypso Red
I am the 5th owner of this 1987 Lotus Turbo Esprit. It was delivered via Passport Transport in July 2016 from Rochester, New York.
It has 68K miles and some of the major services done previously. It passed stringent California smog tests legally and was a big surprise given the 29 year old nature of the car.

It replaces my late 1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo.
1987 Lotus Turbo Esprit (Calypso Red)


The cooling system was running hot. The radiator was boiled/rodded out and the debris in front removed. The thermostat, otter switch, and hoses were replaced (hoses are now silicone). The dash temp gauge was running hot and the voltage stabilzer was replaced with a solid state one from Moss Motors (a known issue with the Smith's gauges). The temp takes awhile to warm up to 80C; fans kick on at 90C so it seems to run fairly cool with the new cooling system fixes. A coolant overflow tank was added as the OEM configuration dumps the excess on the rear disc (!). The original coolant expansion tank cap did not appear to have a rubber gasket - relying on metal to metal sealing. But there was clearly coolant leaking on expansion. I put a rubber gasket found in the shipping box and it appears to have reduced the leaking substantially. Not clear if this the correct configuration.

01/31/2017 - a new radiator cap was ordered from JAE and that seems to have fixed the issue. It now runs without a rubber gasket AND the tank opening was sanded down to provide a much smoother mating surface to the metal cap.

Late note: car arrived with green dot cam wheels and reportedly 22 degrees of timing.

Feb 2018
with Service C - having timing put back to 15 degrees OEM setting to see if poor gas mileage will improve

August 2019

Replaced catalyst and pre-cat to address excessive heat to rear driver side tire.

December 2019

Replacing aftermarket polyurethane bushings with rubber from SJS.
New shocks from Gazmatic GP8-2144 GP8-2145
New clutch hydraulics (master and slave cylinders)
New engine mounts

Standby parts for full clutch job (disc, pressure plate, throwout bearing, flywheel) - not clear if needed yet and just hydraulics.

January 2020

Received adjustable upper links from JAE - left side alignment not quite correct and adjustable upper link will allow better alignment at next Service interval.

April 2020
Covid 19 - makes it hard to bring car to mechanic. Long wait list once reopened.
Unable to pass smog - diagnosed to be bad fuel injector (bad spray pattern) and replaced all 4 at ~80K miles with JAE injectors (modified unknown new Bosch CIS injectors. Passes smog - appears to get better gas mileage (13-14 MPG; now more like 15-16 MPG).

Note: replacing one bad injector brought HC down from 122 to 81 (limit was 121), but replacing remaining 3 injectors had no effect on HC/CO/NO.

Spark plugs replaced with NGK BPR6ES at 80K miles - not major impact to smog. Cylinder with bad injector had black plug.

Water temperature gauge went haywire - traced to spade connector falling off- assume to be due to wrenching while replacing injector. Works fine now.
Replaced fog light bulbs due to burned out left side - bought LED replacements from eBay - nice and white, but during cold start, low voltage will not light until revs are up.

May 2021

Installed a Blazecut T200E fire suppressor 'hose' when it reaches ~240F, it will burst and send extinguishing agent on the hot spot in the engine.

June 2021

Replaced the worn engine cover seal with new one from JAE parts.
Also tried to replace broken engine cover bobbin but lost the 1/2 exterior bobbin by dropping in engine.

November 2021
1800 mile trip to Monument Vally, Utah.
Front trunk gas strut lost all pressure - likely due to age and low temperatures at hotel (20F).
Car ran otherwise very well given distance and length of travel.

December 2021

Blackstone oil test performed to gauge long oil change intervals.
TBN was 4.x - still high enough for proper lubrication.
Concern was 0.1% coolant detected - unclear if leaking hylomar sealant on cylinder or if head gasket.
Engine does not appear to be losing coolant rapidly, but not interested in putting stop-leak as it may seal leak, but also clog working heater core.

Noticed that R12 AC doesn't seem to work.

January 2022
Issue with Bosch CIS gasket on airbox. Cleaned and repositioned and stopped backfires. Will need to replace with new grommet from JAE

February 2022

Slight oil leak from cam carriers - typical Esprit issue - surprised given fixed in 2016, but doesn't seem to last that long

March 2022
Replaced Hella foglights (chipped and cracked after Monument Valley trip) with new Hella Comet 550. Slightly larger and current running incandescent bulbs.
Have new replacements somewhere to replace for lower power consumption.

April 2022
Tried to refill R12 on AC, but not clear if other issue. Can was freezing up - indicating compressor was ingesting R12. But car still does not seem to cool down. Can't hear the magnetic clutch engage, but again the can did freeze up indicating R12 flowing into system.
Install last remaining high beam - weight of lights seems to cause some issues lifting/retracting.
Car now has about 94K miles.

May 2022
Lost nut on passenger side trailing arm. Got replacement and tightened/torque while weight of car on suspension. Suspected it got loose during pandemic when car normally is inspected during routine oil change at mechanic, but due to isolation, it was not done by me.
The dash board appears to be a modification with nice wood - not even cracked like most I see. The leather is in pretty good shape given the age. In my opinion the steering wheel look like 99% new - given the mileage it was a surprise as the drive seat leather is good, but definitely shiny and worn for the mileage. The bulbs were all replaced as the right side (speedo, gas, etc) were all burned out.

The gas gauge doesn't work correctly. When full, it registers around 80% full. When the 'empty' yellow light comes on, the trip odometer has about 160 miles on it and car only takes on about 12 gallons (14 MPG) and tank capacity on Bosch CIS cars is about 20 gallons.

The legacy R12 AC unit was recharged by PO prior to delivery to me - 1 year later it appears to be working 'fine' - it blows cold air at my knee, but recent heat wave in San Jose, CA says it's barely enough to keep cool inside.

The power antenna doesn't work - I have a spare in the garage but decided to leave along as I don't like the stainless steel whip out (and an internal antenna (of marginal quality) was installed below the instrument pod.

June 2021

Installed a mounting point for a Jotto desk so I can deploy things like my NVIDIA Jetson Nano microcontroller with AI/ML computer vision.
No significant external modifications except for wheels (see details below) and Hella front fog lights.
July 2016

Cooling system overhauled
1. radiator boiled/rodded
2. all hoses replaced with silicone hoses (turned out to be counterfeit - more in 2018 below)
3. new thermostat
4. new tires

The rest of the Service C was stalled due to personal issues.

February 2018

Service C 'Plus'

Replace (all new parts unless otherwise noted)
1. both fuel pumps - Bosch
2. fuel accumulator - x40, not OEM x39 as JAE says x40 supercedes. Have use x01 on 88 Esprit for 50K miles with no problem
3. turbo to air cleaner rubber hose (OEM)
4. both gas tank feeder hoses (tanks are 100% rust free despite reputation for rusting out - 71K miles)
5. Gates blue timing belt
6. valve tappet replacement (cast iron OEM rumored to crack anywhere from 50-70K miles) - JAE new steel parts
7. valve adjustments - new shims as needed (requires removal of cam towers)
8. new sparkplugs
9. new wires
10. new inductive pick up (car developed a miss prior to servicing - suspected bad wire in inductive pick up due to vacuum advance stress)
11. new cap and rotor
12. new fuel filter (OEM)
13. new pre-fuel filter (aftermarket mod to prevent rusty tank particles from damaging new pumps)
14. new alternator strap (aluminum replacing plastic aftermarket that buckled)
15. new catalyst (aborted due to difficulty of finding flanges - may need to go NOS)
16. new SJS aftermarket cambelt sprocket - random reports of cracking on other models; old sprocket was fine
17. had leaking oil line fitting repaired temporarily (used barb to connect new hoses to old 30 year old hoses)

Back from shop - at about 75K miles, the counterfeit silicone hoses - one key hose near the camwheel cut into it, resulting in a huge leak.

1. Got JAE silicone hoses to replace them.
2. Replaced thermostat (only 5K miles, but since it was out, may as well).
3. Replaced 30 year old oil lines with 1 piece hoses.
4. oil cap cracked after 31 years (red plastic) - got OEM replacement from JAE.
A regular Panasonic CD player upgraded from the OEM cassette player.
The front/rear bushings were replaced with polyurethane but unclear what source. The zip ties were added by a long ago previous owner to indicate valid points to put a jack (!). Given the suspension arms are quite delicate, surprised that it had to be indicate with yellow ties.

The red ties supposedly are for valid jacking points - under the shock mounting point seems scary to me.

Late note: The suspension has poly urethane bushings of unknown origin (not likely Lotus)

Zip ties removed circa 2018

Oct 2019
Bought from SJS new bushings for rear and front suspension arms.
Bought Gazmatic shocks and new isolators.
Wheel and Tire
The wheels are aftermarket Fikse forged 3 piece wheels 17x8.5 front ET 20.3, 17x9 rear ET -25.5). I also managed to find OEM 15" BBS wheels that I am keeping in storage to complete the OEM nature of the car.

The tires were 6 years old and are being replaced by Dunlop DZ102 205/45-17 front 245/45-17 rear in 2016. This sizes were chosen to closely match the OEM diameter of the 15" tires, but increased 10mm equally to minimize handling impact from wider tires front-to-back.

The original tires were 10mm wider front/rear - 215 and 255. But the rears were decidedly wider than the rim and were rolling over the sidewall more readily than the 245 now.

I also managed to find OEM 15" BBS wheels that I am keeping in storage to complete the OEM nature of the car. The only modification is the external Hella front fogs lights.

~2019 - discovered that after replacing flat rear tire on Fikse that 17" rear wheel is actually 2.5 lbs lighter than cast OEM 15" BBS Mahle wheel.
~2019 - bought 4 BBS Mahle wheels - same model as OEM, but 'square' 16x7 and plan to put run-flats for higher uptime.
rims were curb damaged and spent time sanding down and respraying with adhesion paint and clear coat. Got steel (not aluminum) customer adapters made to maintain OEM offsets. 4mm wheel space at front and 41mm steel wheel adapter in rear. Planned tires to be use - Bridgestone Drive Guard in 195/55-16 front and 225/55-16 rear. While rear tires are 10mm narrower than OEM, the rear wheel TRACK is same as rear adapter was pushed out 5mm to compensate.

~October 2020 Installed Bridgestone run flat tires 225/60-16 rear and 195/55-16 front. Used Bloksport wheel adapters on rear 35mm PCD 5x120 and (wrong) 12mm spacer on front (not needed - wrong calculation to get to ET 23. Also installed TPMS from a $27 kit from eBay

~Nov 2020 - bad alternator voltage regulator (suspected) and damaged battery - seen 16V peak that causes engine to miss and radio to miss. Bought rebuilt Bosch AL49X alternator, new battery, Merlin Motorsports Smiths electrical oil pressure gauge to replace the mechanical oil pressure gauge for reliabliity.

4/29/2017 - reference for the Fikse wheels from a previous owner:

*Size = 15x7 with 195/60-15
*OEM Offset = Positive +23.3

*Size = 15x8 with 235/60-15
*OEM Offset = Negative -20.0

*Size = 17x8½" with 215/45-17
*Offset = Positive +20.3

Fikse REAR
*Size = 17x9" with 255/45-17
*Offset = Negative -25.5

1987 Esprit Measurements:
*FRONT Spigot 71.0 mm diameter 11.5 mm thick
*REAR Spigot 71.0 mm diameter 10.0 mm thick
*Bolt Pattern 5x120 - front and rear
*Center Bore 71 mm - front and rear
*Heat Shield 135 mm from mount plate to heat shield*

NOTE - Torque Recommendation = 74 lbs

NOTE - Lotus specifications require a minimum of 20mm "biting" thread to extend beyond the rear face of the wheel.

NOTE - 5x120 Bolt Pattern is same as BMW



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