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Discussion Starter #1
hey guys,

I'm new here, as you can see :)

I've been dreaming of owning a lotus esprit for years now and have done plenty of research. However, I've read very little reviews. I've googled it numerous times and cannot come up with much.

I'm looking into purchasing a 95 Esprit and just wanted to ask you all (even though you might be biased lol) what are some pros and cons with this car. What are some common problems? What are some things to look for?

The car is located six hours from me, so I have not had the time to get out there and have it professional inspected, but I do plan on doing so.

One thing that slightly concerns me is the price - I'm wondering if it's too good to be true? He was asking $22k, and I offered him $18k...he accepted, after much hesitation. The car has 39k miles. He has told me that it does leak oil - and that the majority of esprits do - is this true?? He says it appears to come from the valve cover area (since it is leaking down onto the exhaust manifold, thus, causing it to smoke "if it sits for a long period of time"). Also a small drip coming from the "cooler area near the front by the driver's tire - he believes there's air in the brake lines and assumes it just needs to be bled.

new things he's added: clutch line, slave cylinder, fuel lines, plugs, wires, upgraded injectors, and a few misc things.

I know it's hard to make any type of decision without inspecting the car yourself, but what do you guys think? Are these costly fixes? Does this sound normal? Or is this a car to AVOID?
 

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Hate to say it but if your 'this picky' about a car I would suggest looking for something else. Esprits can 'Knit-Pick' at you sometimes and if your afraid of repair/parts costs this is not the car for you.

If your mechanically inclined and love cars plus doing your own repairs there is no other car that will match it.

If you buy the car and take it to a mechanic to have it serviced they will most likely hate working on a 'mid-engine' car and charge you double for their troubles.

The small drip of oil could be from the rear cam seal cap which used an O-Ring and is a common problem and a easy fix, with care on a four pot 910 engine.
Any other oil leaks... have to see it. If it's cam and crank seals they can be replaced at timing belt change. Might as well rebuild the water pump too as it requires going back in there.

To make a short story long, buy it if you REALLY want it and willing to pay for repairs like SleekGT otherwise stay away.
Just my opinion. I've owned my '87 for eleven years and have had miles of smiles.

Good luck with your search,
Robert
 

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Hate to say it but if your 'this picky' about a car I would suggest looking for something else. Esprits can 'Knit-Pick' at you sometimes and if your afraid of repair/parts costs this is not the car for you.

If your mechanically inclined and love cars plus doing your own repairs there is no other car that will match it.
[snip]
The small drip of oil could be from the rear cam seal cap which used an O-Ring and is a common problem and a easy fix, with care on a four pot 910 engine

To make a short story long, buy it if you REALLY want it and willing to pay for repairs like SleekGT otherwise stay away.
Just my opinion. I've owned my '87 for eleven years and have had miles of smiles.

Good luck with your search,
Robert
As Robert pointed out, I am willing/able to pay for professional work on my 88 Esprit. Check my garage for details but there was a reason I waited 30+ years to get an Esprit. I didn't want to scrape by bandaging the car repairs hand to mouth - not uncommon for people to do that. My goal is maximum drive time - zero downtime due to lack of money. I saved my pennies to do this and while it hasn't be inexpensive, it's been worth every penny to me. FYI - Robert mentioned the leaky cam tower seal - that's my latest 'to fix' item about 5 months/ 5000 miles SJ since Oct 2011. My alternator was replaced Dec 2011/ 2900 miles. My budget is taking a beating but I'm still having fun.
 

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I am taking a longer view. If the car has a number of these "identified minor problems" it indicated to me that the current owner is not an enthusiast or concerned about the well being of his car. This car should be inspected very carefully by a knowledgable 4 cylinder owner.
 

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I am taking a longer view. If the car has a number of these "identified minor problems" it indicated to me that the current owner is not an enthusiast or concerned about the well being of his car. This car should be inspected very carefully by a knowledgable 4 cylinder owner.
I agree - prior to buying my 88, I consulted with the mechanic who worked on it previously - and I also checked out the local Lotus specialists because I knew I would be relying on a professional for most if not all the work. He gave me a rough estimate of cost to refresh to daily driver condition - I went over that amount to increase the reliability - it is 23 years old and you have to have realistic expectations.

Frankly, I would not commit to buy without a Lotus-savvy mechanic examining it. While I was an armchair fan for decades, that doesn't substitute for real world experience that folks on this forum have.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses.

I am capable of affording the car and am not scraping pennies to purchase it. I just do not want to be in the situation where I am dumping thousands upon thousands of dollars on a monthly basis to fix problems that will simply lead to more problems (and I figure the majority of people wouldn't want to dump money). I had a horrible experience with a mustang cobra (figures) where the motor had blown out, and even after replacing the motor for $7k, the car never ran the same. I guess I've become very fearful.

If the leaks are common problems, it might be worth the fix.

But as Wayne also said, it might show a lot about the owner of the car...

He said that he had "service records" but those service records ended up just being oil changes :crazyeyes
 

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I have a 95 S4 that we did a major rebuild on. I also have a beautiful well sorted 89 SE. We recently acquired a 94 S4 that needs some work.
It doesn't sound like you have seen the car? Or if you did you didn't know what to look for?
Oil leaks are not uncommon, but may or may not be an issue, and may or may not be a modest repair.
What to look for is an engine that sounds good, has minimal oil leaks, revs freely, and has exceptional power when the turbo spools up. You will also need to see when timing belt was changed, at a minimum at 30k miles. It will cost about $2000 to have a mechanic do it and whatever else needs to be done if you can find one. If the timing belt is too old DON'T drive the car till it is changed.
Tranny should shift reasonably smooth and clutch shouldn't slip. Brakes should be even and have excellent stoppping power.
Interior is obvious and straightforward. Paint should have no major flaws or clearcoat flaking. A few minor spiders in the gel coat are acceptable.
So in other words a car with no major flaws, but not perfect. Anything else may not be a deal breaker, but should be priced into sale and will need to be carefully inspected by someone who can price the repair.
So the goal is to know what you are getting. There is nothing wrong with buying a car that needs something, but it is always nicer to get one that is all good. Obviously that will be somewhat reflected in the price.
Where are you at?
 

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The car sounds like it could be a deal but budget for a lot of service work to bring the car "up to snuff". It probably is overdue for service. Save yourself a lot of time and money and have the car looked over by someone who is knowledgeable so if you are still intent on buying it at least you will have some idea what you are getting into. As Wayne says, those small things mean bigger things may be lurking only to be discovered by you (and paid to be fixed by YOU!). It is what you don't see that will cost you. And you do not know what to look for.
David Teitelbaum
 

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FWIW...Having an Esprit is not THAT different from having another enthusiast car. Since I started driving, I had MGs, Fiats, Porsches, Jaguars, etc. getting more expensive over the years, but it never felt all that different from my first MG. They all had their problems, but I enjoyed them. If you are experienced with picky cars at all, don't be intimidated by the Esprit. By modern standards, it's a simple car (but the labor rate issues noted already are very real). It's definitely a car you can work on yourself if you have the aptitude and inclination. If you haven't had a car like this, but you've always loved the Esprit, I think maybe you should still give it a shot if the car checks out OK with someone knowledgeable about Esprits. You're never really ready for the first sex, kid, marriage, etc. You just do it and figure it out. If it's not for you, just don't screw up the car for the next owner. Like I was taught when I was a kid, "put it back better than you found it."
 

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Discussion Starter #10
89.5 - I have not yet seen the car, only spoken to the seller over the phone and viewed about 20 photos and a few videos. I am located in jacksonville.
 

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$18K for a '95 is almost too cheap. No way, even in this very subdued exotic car market. With these cars, and other exotics, you pretty much get what you pay for and do NOT get what you do NOT pay for. Hard to find any shortcuts from my shopping experience. Maybe this car is truly a steal....but you had better be damned sure of that ahead of time. Otherwsie, It will be cheaper just to find a well sorted, no stories car for $25-ish which sounds better to me for a price range.

Yes, Esprits do piss a little oil here and there. It shouldnt be excessive and if its coming from an area that could cause a problem it should be rectified right away. My '87 seems to drip a little after sitting all winter but after a few rides it "sorts itself". ;)

Not trying to scare ya, just trying to make sure that low price isnt for some unseen reason. The guy might be just trying to get out quick which isnt a good sign.

Tread carefully.
 

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There is another danger to be wary of. It is becoming more and more common for people to advertise and offer to sell things they do not have. They send some pictures (stolen of other internet sites) and then collect a deposit or maybe even the whole thing and you never see what you "bought". The only real defense against this scam is to go and touch the car or have someone else do it for you to make sure the merchandise is real. Ask to see the Title a) so you know they are the real owner and b) so you can see if it is Salvage or Flood and c) it is cleared of Liens.
David Teitelbaum
 

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I am in St Pete. If you are interested come on down to take a look at our cars and "man cave" We have 4 Esprits including a 94 and 95 S4. The former has engine out and the latter was just redone.
If the car is somewhere not too far and you are extremely serious would be happy to help you look the car over. We are not pros just enthusiasts and part time grease monkeys.
Randy
 

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18k nice buy but who gives a zhyte you'll be driving there to see it. why suspicious on the low price? -- BUYING IT $45k does not mean anything. there are bunch of hidden issues regardless of the price.
who knows if the guy needs to unload it due to personal issues or some priorities in life.

it boils down to know what you are buying and if you can, bring someone knowleable
mechanically.
 

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hey guys,
He has told me that it does leak oil - and that the majority of esprits do - is this true?? He says it appears to come from the valve cover area (since it is leaking down onto the exhaust manifold, thus, causing it to smoke "if it sits for a long period of time"). Also a small drip coming from the "cooler area near the front by the driver's tire - he believes there's air in the brake lines and assumes it just needs to be bled."
I would be very cautious of this car. First the quick price drop and second the "smoke". when it is all said an done, Esprits mechanically are very much like any other car from the late 80's to early 90's. There is nothing exotic about their engine/drive train as they mostly used parts other cars used. It is not uncommon for a car to leak oil, but I don't think the "majority" do. I know mine does not, and I am willing to bet most people on this board fix the leak as soon as it happens so theirs don't leak either. He changed a bunch of parts out, why did he not fix the leak? ESPECIALLY if it was causing smoke!

If I were you I would go over the repair records, talk to the shops that worked on it, and have an independent mechanic look at it. Reading on this board you will find that these cars are actually well built and dependable (OK, crappy british electronics :D ). A good one won't be expensive to maintain. A neglected one will be very expensive to bring up to spec.....
 

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Everyones mentioned the oil leak but not the front drip. The radiator drain plug is on the upper left corner, (driver side), of the radiator and consists of a nylon threaded plug with o-ring. If the o-ring is shot or missing you can get a bit of leakage at the plug. Easy fix if it's just the plug. There is also a hose connection at the same location which could also be a point of leakage.
Worth finding out before dropping the coin.
18K does seem a bit low, but should not be the primary reason for ignoring the car.
My biggest concern would be the low mileage. Esprits generally do not fare well when left to sit. Seals start to go, belts dry out, hoses loose their elasticity, fuel tanks rust, hydraulics loose their muster.
Have the car checked out by someone in the know.
 

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I agree that price is not necessarily a clue to a car's condition, more of a clue to the seller's condition.
The rest of this is just speculation. The market for Esprits is not that large, so there are not always a bunch of potential buyers. It can take a while to sell, and some sellers don't want to wait.
I think the "low" mileage is only an issue if the car is trully sitting for weeks on end. Many pristine examples are driven every week for 30 miles which adds up to 1500 miles per year. Those cars can be excellent, but plastic and rubber deteriorate over time irregardless, and ALL Esprit tanks rust.
The bottom line is go look at the car, see if it looks wothwhile, see what looks problematic, then get someone knowledgeable to look it over
 

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I agree that price is not necessarily a clue to a car's condition, more of a clue to the seller's condition.
Boy, I dunno about this at all. I shopped for many, many years trying to find the best car and you NEVER could get the best car for the lowest price. No way. I ended up buying a car that was priced higher than all the others I viewed and it very likely turned out a lot better for me in the long run too.:) I still maintain that there arent any "tricks" to this. A top-condition, up to date service-wise car is gonna cost a lot more than a jalopy thats been through 8 owners in 5 years or whatever.

Are there some distressed owners out there that have a fantastic car and simply need cash ASAP? Sure, but probably not that many. A true enthusiast knows what a good exotic is worth, especially a desireable model of that marque. They aint giving it away for a quick sale just because.

At least, I dont think so. :shrug:
 

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A few points to add here "dreamer". I have rebuilt the engine in my 89, 3 times in the last 3 years, due to a local "expert engine builders" oversight. Each time I installed the engine, I still end up with a small oil leak from different things. These have all been very easy to identify and fix with some silicone. I have yet to see an Esprit or MG, or even a modified Porsche that I have worked on, that doesn't have some sort of oil leak somewhere. The oil leak onto the exhaust manifold, although problematic, is usually a very simple fix. As mentioned, it is usually the o-ring on the cam tower rear cover leaking. The oil leak mentioned at the front of the car, is most likely one of the oil cooler lines to the oil cooler. There are 2 in front of the front wheels behind the front fascia/bumper. As for air in the brake lines, this is common if the car has sat for some time. My suggestion would be to bleed the entire system, or have it bled, since these cars lack exceptional brake capacity, it is very important to get them working top notch all the time! Post some pics of the car, perhaps someone is familiar with it and could possibly answer some of your questions.
Artie
 
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