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Need someone to talk me off the ledge. The is a 90 Esprit for sale nearby. I can get it for $9500. It is a dealer. The history is sketchy in that through the use of carfax and calling the place it had been serviced, I found that the odometer has been broken for appx 8 years of its life. The good news is that the car had been serviced through 2008. After that it goes blank and the story is that is was basically parked in 2010 with only monthly short rides. I actually bought the car on ebay in a no reserve auction. Then I found the mileage issue and the guy said I could back out if I wanted. The car runs and drives. All the electrics work. It just needs maintenance and interior work. See attached pictures. I like working on cars and while certainly not an expert, I have succeeded in all the endeavors I have undertaken. I like buying cars that need some work and then getting them running. I do not have any experience with Lotus or exotics. I really like this car. After reading these forums and learning about the Esprit maintenance, I figure it will immediately need a timing belt, cam shaft seals, injectors, possibly some turbo maintenance, obviously seats redone, suspension bushings, ect. All of which I plan on doing myself.

So the question is buy it or run away? My normal rule is never buy from a dealer. I am considering breaking that rule with the hope that I can put 5-6K into the car, have a very nice though high mile (guessing) car. What do you think?

I know it is a sad looking car, but this may my best opportunity to own a Lotus that needs enough work to make it economically a winner.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Ted in Texas
 

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I'd grab it for that price.
Just get a grand knocked off.-try-
Nice looking car.
 

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Interesting opinions. I don't think I have seen a cheaper Esprit. Not necessarily a good thing, but i dont think ive seen another one for less than 15k. I also have not seen one in this bad of shape. Still it screams "Buy It". If only it was from an individual where you can get a real feeling of its history. I never buy a used car from a dealer. Still want to pull the trigger! Ted
 

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I looked at this car, asked dealer if the mileage was correct, no surprise I didn't get an answer! The engine and interior look like a high miler, a sitting esprit can be a money pit. I priced out what it would take to bring it back ( don't discount what one of these costs to repair and an interior can set you back some serious coin when it's done right) I ended up close to the price of a good condition SE with service history. You could skimp in some areas but the dash shrinkage, rotten and dried out leather would drive me nuts. Stick in a couple of aftermarket seats, redo the roof panel and try and steam/ stretch the dash leather may work. The kicker for me was the paint, you can see the clear coat pealing in several areas so factor in a paint job as well as a full mechanical go over and you can buy a nicer car for the same money you would have invested in an unknown mileage car. Just my 10 cents

Colin
 

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Stryker, we actually do what you are contemplating, rebuilding old worn/broken Esprits.
I always divide the car into 3 areas, mechanicals, interior and paint. The first rule of thumb is don't take on a car that needs all three. Mechanicals and paint can be especially expensive/labor intensive. The interior a little more manageable but....
Then don't take on anything that you can't deal with, as the price of paying someone else for all but the most mundane items will eat you alive on a car like this.
As a rule there is always more wrong than you think, and it always takes more time than you think.
I can't tell what the paint looks like, but if there is much clear coat damage you will need a total respray and a crappy job will be 2-3k, a good one 7k plus.
The major issue with mechanicals will be the engine interiors and the condition of the fuel tanks. Absolutely check compression, as an engine rebuild will run 2-3k only for parts. Fuel tanks can be repaired but are a lot of work to pull.

So 9k for this car is marginal. Be prepared to spend all of you $5k and only end up with a fair car. The wheels do not add any value by the way. I would buy it at $7-8 if the paint was ok.

Randy
 

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Says someone with three.....

but if you do it, YES timing belt :wallbang:
Yes I have three, and have owned many more... I have also owned many Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and other fun cars, its only Lotus guys that sit and bash their marque and discourage others from buying and fixing them up. Hence the reason they are a dime a dozen,

people come to this forum excited about the possibility of a new exciting car to restore only to be torn to shreds and told to run, heck a Lotus is no big deal I have purchased cars in much worse condition and brought them back to life.

If I posted a similar condition Maserati on the Maserati forum I would have tons of support and excitement about bringing a Maserati back to life.

I have for years tried to figure out why Lotus guys are so negative to the cars we love. These are great cars, but in the end, still cars, cars can be painted, interiors redone, and engines fixed.
 

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Yes I have three, and have owned many more... I have also owned many Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and other fun cars, its only Lotus guys that sit and bash their marque and discourage others from buying and fixing them up. Hence the reason they are a dime a dozen,

people come to this forum excited about the possibility of a new exciting car to restore only to be torn to shreds and told to run, heck a Lotus is no big deal I have purchased cars in much worse condition and brought them back to life.

If I posted a similar condition Maserati on the Maserati forum I would have tons of support and excitement about bringing a Maserati back to life.

I have for years tried to figure out why Lotus guys are so negative to the cars we love. These are great cars, but in the end, still cars, cars can be painted, interiors redone, and engines fixed.


I agree completely. There's no way I could afford multiple Lotus vehicles without working on them myself. They are collectively my daily drivers. But they are ultimately just cars and can be maintained, restored, and driven a lot. For the money I would go for it. A comprehensive set of tools, preferably a lift, the manuals, and some patience will make it all worth it. I know when I got my son's 1990 Esprit running well after sorting PO issues it was MORE than worth it!
 

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Randy pretty much nailed the analysis. Another thing to consider is how much do you really WANT to do on the car (regardless of cost - and I mean you doing the work)?

I know this will ellicit a few groans but I would say if you can get it for maybe $7k AND have the mechanical experience to pull out the motor and refresh it (seals, gaskets, rings, bearings, mounts), AND you assume the tranny is basically good (might want to consider doing the clutch, and might need to rebuild the translator or the shifter cables), then you are looking at about $1K in engine parts maybe $1.5k if you do a complete clutch.

Now you have a decent engine and tranny. How about suspension? Can you replace the bushings yourself? If so, then bushings and wheel bearing are not too bad) add $500 in parts. You do the all the work. If you need shocks then add another $500 or so - of course you can spend triple that if you Bilstein's or an equivalent. You'll need tires (not immediately if you are just going to take the car straight to your shop or space) but before it is ready for road you'll need tires. Assume the wheels are straight and you can live with them aesthetically. Assume the brakes are OK but will require pads (not expensive $200 for all four wheels), you might need rotors (fronts are cheap, rears expensive), you may need to rebuild the various hydraulic cylinders(brake, clutch, and the clutch slave). The rebuild kits are not too pricey if you can do the work yourself.

Paint? If you're losing clear coat (and that is not at all unusual given the age) you can either paint it yourself but the prep work will be a huge effort (sand all the clearcoat off). A decent paint job by a pro will be at least $7k - easy to spend more. It also will vary by whether there are gel coat cracks that have to filled,

Interior: you can pull out the seats and them redone - in leather figure $500 a seat. A carpet set is another $400 (you remove and install) Dash and binnacle I have never had to do or have done, but the professional replacement of the dash leather will require the windshield to be removed to be done properly. That alone will be $200 or so. Getting the binnacle out is not too bad - you could take it to your upholstery shop and see what they would want to recover it, likewise the door cards, It would be easy to spend $3k on the interor. You may also have to replace several instruments - the basic monitoring onbes are not expensive ($30-50) but the tach and speedo are more.

I have pretty much done all this stuff to several Esprits - much of it to my personal '89, but Randy and I have been rebuilding Esprits for a couple of years now so we have a pretty good idea of what these things generally are going to cost. And we have done this with project cars with varying issues. We have done total renovations of Three Esprits, and made serviceable two others that required serious labor.Every project Esprit we have done also involves repairing or replacing the fuel tanks (that can be as cheap as $150 if you do it yourself) or triple that to have it done professionally,

You will not get your money out the car. Forget that. Do it cause you love the idea of restoring the car, the car will become a part of your life and lead you to meet all sorts of interesting people. Do it because you are preserving a beautiful car which will never be made again, Do it cause I can assure you you will experience a tremendous amount of pride in accomplishing this goal, You will learn a lot, a lot about the Esprit and a lot about yourself.

You will love driving this car - and when restored properly a very dependable and fuel efficient car which goes pretty damn fast,

The car fully restored in the current market would be worth $20, Maybe a little more. There is always a possibility that Esprits will appreciate, especially as they get rarer and rarer. A well sorted car costs in the $20k or more, So you will recoup some money if you decide to sell the car, very unlikely you will make money or break even, You certainly are not going to get the labor paid if you go the DIY route (which I advocate - it's the most sensible way to approach ales-than sensible situation),

But you will own and drive an Esprit. You will know everything about the car and you will connected to that car in a special way.

These cars cost a hell of a lot of money when purchased as new, For a relatively tiny percent of the original cost you can (with a lot of sweat equity) own one that in all appearance looks and drives like new car.

I've never met a previous Esprit owner who ever sold their car because they didn't like it, Growing family, car had to go, lost job, car had to go, got divorced had to sell the car, got shipped to Alaska for a job, car had to go , etc. etc......

What I have never heard (and I'm not saying it's never been said) but what I have never heard is "God I hated driving that car and I am so glad it's gone! What a PITA!".... Nope, people come up to me and talk about the car, ask about the car -they have all kind of questions. The truth is that it is an outstandingly beautiful car. And that pretty much makes up for everything else. Oh and it goes fast, very fast. Safely fast.

Nope people love the car. And every now and then when I run across a previous owner, they don't say bad stuff about their Esprit experience, They look at the Esprit like it's the beautiful girlfriend they once had and who got away.

:shift:
 

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Cal H
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Yes I have three, and have owned many more... I have also owned many Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and other fun cars, its only Lotus guys that sit and bash their marque and discourage others from buying and fixing them up. Hence the reason they are a dime a dozen,

people come to this forum excited about the possibility of a new exciting car to restore only to be torn to shreds and told to run, heck a Lotus is no big deal I have purchased cars in much worse condition and brought them back to life.

If I posted a similar condition Maserati on the Maserati forum I would have tons of support and excitement about bringing a Maserati back to life.

I have for years tried to figure out why Lotus guys are so negative to the cars we love. These are great cars, but in the end, still cars, cars can be painted, interiors redone, and engines fixed.
shhhhhhhhhhhhh......be quiet and keep the secret........it is because those who are able to restore these cars can get them at a lower cost LOL

We have one person in the club and there will always be that person who restores as a hobby. It matters not if it makes economic sense only that the journey is more important than the destination much like driving our cars. I have seen him over restore a car then sell it. I use the Dan Curry rule "I must keep the car at least if not longer than the time it took me to get the car back on the road." So at least there is entertainment value derived from the car to offset the expense and time.

I will always assist others doing similar work. Although on some limited or hard to source parts, I do keep those sources under wraps until my friends and I have gotten what we require.

Cal H
 

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[snip]
I have for years tried to figure out why Lotus guys are so negative to the cars we love. [snip].
I fall in that camp - that why I waited 32 years to buy one. It's not so much negative as realistic; if you're not prepared to take this 'journey' (financially or mechanically), it will be a negative experience.

To the OP - Tom summarized it best and he and Randy definitely have hands-on experience with resurrecting Esprits. For me personally, I use a professional mechanic and a big wad of Benjamins to keep my Esprit running. If you can do the work yourself (and have the TIME), by all means, that's the most satisfying way for some.

Financially, it is rare that anyone comes out ahead on an Esprit (except for those trying to flip them to ignorant buyers).

Check out deloreanz's posts on resurrecting a 1984 Turbo Esprit - he surprised me by methodically doing over about 12-18 months - great accomplishment.

Also, I've ALWAYS wanted an Esprit - visited the Lotus factory 23 years BEFORE I ever bought own - my desire to own the Esprit 'charm' may be different than yours.

Owning an Esprit is more of an emotional decision rather than a positive financial one.

For $9K, I agree with Tom that it's a touch high. It appears to be high miler (I have 57K and it's in far better shape than yours - and 57K is getting up there).

Check out my garage for details.
 

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I have seen this car before 2 years ago. I had a few conversation with the PO,
The car was his "unfinished project". Here are some info I still remember;

The original paint was Pearl White - he repainted it Black in his own garage with his friend
Interior was white and blue - he sprayed/dyed it with light Tan
Four shocks were replaced with Spax adjustable
Injectors were cleaned
Mags were repainted
Gas canister assy cancelled
Mileage was 117K when speedo stopped working + 2-3 years non-running on storage
Tranny - no info
The Engine has one "Dead piston"
Plus other hidden problems...

My view is... this car is not meant for Amateur mechanic as a project - for it is too big, too expensive and requires a highly skilled individual with a extreme knowledge about this engine. However if your gut feeling is telling you to bite it, so then go for it...but brace for expenses, many days of labor and sacrifices... Good Luck

JR
 

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Cal H
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9K is on the high side. Black paint in TX and considering the leather that appears to be left to elements that paint has to be in rough shape. Tell us what the paint is like we only know what we saw and read on ebay from the seller. The seller appears to have trivialized and simplified the restoration but that is the job of a car salesman. Who knows you might be handy with body work and HVLP gun. I think I got last of complete OEM leather interior bits at the Lotus garage sale years ago that came with my car purchase. Just looking at the car the cosmetics are usually the easy to care for parts as most owners can manage to wax and keep the car covered from the elements and clean and keep the leather treated to avoid it cracking apart. So my way of thinking is if a person skips on the stuff that most people can do the more difficult items have not been touched.

That being said you state the car is nearby. Go take a look at it. Start it, drive it and see it run. If you can run a compression test do it. if you like it. Put 7K in an envelope and also have stacks in 500 or 1K increments and start throwing down cash. People can offer whatever but it is always harder for the seller to walk away from stacks of 100 dollar bills. If you got it 7 or 8K if it got too rough on you you could always part it and get your money back and then some maybe. Also make the seller aware that the whole Lotus community is aware of the car and many of its issues. I suspect many were bidding on what they thought was a stored 17K mile car.

Get a good game plan and go for it or let it go if it does not fit in the game plan.
Just remember many can start a project but a fraction have the will, the skill and tenacity to finish it. If you are such a person go for it and we will help. One thing some of us have is major parts list in our heads with about pricing that we usually know on the spot to continue talking or walk from the deal.
Whatever you decide
Good luck,
Cal H
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks again, this is all incredibly helpful information!

The Carfax shows that the car has been in Dallas TX its whole life. JR, is that the car you know about? That information is invaluable. Dead piston? Not good. Nor is any of that other info. Anything else you can remember, please let me know, but I just want to make sure it is the same car. From the carfax, I assumed the odometer had stopped working at 17,151 in 2005. If it stopped working at 117151, then that is a big difference.

To those that asked about wanting to work on the car, I have bought three fixer-uppers, (not restores), and have enjoyed doing the wrench turning. I am no where near an expert, but I like the learning process and while I have had to make some phone calls and internet searches on how to do something, I have been able to get things done.

Thanks to Randy, Cal, Tom, Eddie and the rest for your input. Especially the parts cost info.

As far as the paint goes, I have not seen the car in person yet. I am considering driving over (3 Hours, which in TX is close by) and looking at it, but since it is a dealer I do not anticipate him dropping the price much.

If this is the same car JR remembers, I'm out. Dead piston means engine rebuild. Then I'm rolling the dice with the 117K plus transmission. That transmission to me is the biggest scare with these cars as that unless I am mistaken is VERY expensive and not a DIY undertaking. I was hoping that the Odometer went out at 17K and this car was a 60-70K car. Who has a Lotus with 117K plus several years of unknown miles?

And to think I was getting excited about having a Lotus in my garage.

Any other input?

JR if you can chime in again on weather the car you know about was in Dallas, that would be great.

Ted
 

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Yes I have three, and have owned many more... I have also owned many Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and other fun cars, its only Lotus guys that sit and bash their marque and discourage others from buying and fixing them up. Hence the reason they are a dime a dozen,

people come to this forum excited about the possibility of a new exciting car to restore only to be torn to shreds and told to run, heck a Lotus is no big deal I have purchased cars in much worse condition and brought them back to life.

If I posted a similar condition Maserati on the Maserati forum I would have tons of support and excitement about bringing a Maserati back to life.

I have for years tried to figure out why Lotus guys are so negative to the cars we love. These are great cars, but in the end, still cars, cars can be painted, interiors redone, and engines fixed.
I'm not bashing the marque. This would be his first one. Maybe he has the skills, who knows? Odds are he'll be in over his head, then he'll be the one bashing the marque. I was saying 'run, don't walk away' from that particular one (though just based on the pictures). That is hardly tearing someone to shreds. I passed on several before picking up mine and it still ended up like this: (but God is it pretty!)
 

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