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Seeking the advice and opinions of some of you who have been down this road before...

There are two 86' Turbo HCI Esprits that I'm considering picking up in the next few days. Does either of them jump out as a better buy? Or does anything stand out as being a red flag? I'd love to hear any comments on either of these cars, can't wait to join the owners community!

option 1: 1986 Lotus Turbo Esprit HCI 50k Miles, Fully Serviced - Foreign-Exotic Cars - RonSusser.com

option 2: Lotus : Esprit Turbo HCi Lotus : Esprit Turbo HCi | eBay



Thanks!
 

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Both of these look like nice examples, but the black one looks to be in nicer condition, especially the interior. Both appear to have excellent maintenance history. IMHO both sellers are a bit optimistic on price.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Both of these look like nice examples, but the black one looks to be in nicer condition, especially the interior. Both appear to have excellent maintenance history. IMHO both sellers are a bit optimistic on price.
I was sort of leaning toward the black one as well, except those large bubble like warps in the targa top kind of scare me. Not sure what to make of them or how difficult it will be to repair.

How do you get a feel for the maintence history without having the records in front of you? They both sounded good to me as well, but I'm waiting for someone to point out some gaping issue.

Thanks for the input!
 

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Somehow the blue one seemed more honest and less tarted up if that make sense. The engine bay looked well maintained and original rather than painted up and the red interior in the black car looked like a refinish to me. Neither look to have been abused though.
 

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The Glacier blue '86 seems pretty well sorted and RS motorsports is a well known Esprit shop so thats a huge plus. I dont think the prices are that bad - a well sorted, up to date, ready to drive car is worth a HUGE premium over a car that needs stuff. For what you get, the later G-Esprits are a steal right now and wont stay that way forever, IMO. Sure, negotiate your best deal but lowballing sucks and paying a fair price for a good car is good for everyone in the long run. Buying a top car right upfront is the best advice. You'll enjoy the car and it will be a happy companion. I know this because my car was just that - a top-dollar, well sorted car. Guess what? Ive racked up the miles with zero trouble and no niggling issues either. It just goes and goes and goes. Thats what you want. Routine service and lots of fluid changes. Thats basically it.

The black one has a to-die-for color combination and looks to be in solid shape too. Both look better than the usual e-bay jalopies.

Of course, a test drive and researching the car is the best policy. Tread carefully but dont be scared either. How long has each car been owned? Thsts a big issue, IMO. I shopped for years for a good G-Esprit and I noticed that cars that werent owned for very long often tended to need the most. That might not be true for every car but owners that have them for a long time tend to take very good care of them. Recent service histories are a plus. Whats been done? Why? What will it need in the next year? How much does it get driven? Cars that get used regularly are the happiest ones. Get a gut feel for the current owner - their demeanor and knowlege of the car is paramount to determining if you are buying from a true Esprit enthusiast or just a Mustang guy that "thought he wanted an exotic". Big difference in each owner type. You want the former if at all possible.

Both are worth looking into. Try and talk to the owners and start there. PM me for more info or if I can help. I shoped for one of these for many years and feel Ive seen it all.... :)

Its hard to tell what the better buy is without more info and seeing the cars/testing them/all that stuff.
 

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Having owned an HCI, I can say they are very reliable and very powerful. They both seem like good buys to me. The G. Blue needs an A.C. recharge, which is another way to say you will need to replace the compressor, b/c that is where the leak is---trust me! But it IS a common compressor, easy to find and not expensive. But, it IS an R12 car.

The black one has two leaks, which means to me you will be replacing some seals. I have had two lotuses (87 HCI, and now 94 S4), and neither would leak anything or I would have it fixed, so I don't go along with some common wisdom that you can accept the leaks on a lotus. Any leak of oil on a turbo engine should be fixed.

So they are probably both good buys, but both will require some attention. (imho)
 

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I live about 30 min. south of the black eBay car in Milwaukee so I could check it out for you if you are not local. I owned my '86 HCi for over 10 years so I know these cars very well. Just PM me if you need my assistance.
 

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I like the Glacier blue one better, and the fact it was used in a R&T Road Test article back in the day is pretty cool, but sadly its lost its original 2 spoke Momo steering wheel at some point.

As for is $17,000 steep money for a Giugiaro Turbo?

Not If its a good one in decient mechanical condition, I paid ALOT more for my '83 10 years ago, and then spent over 10k bringing it up to scratch.

If you are fussy like me you will find issues with either of those cars that will require the expenditure of $$$$.

If I was to buy another today, I would search out a super low mileage near perfect example for around $25,000.
 

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I like the Glacier blue one better, and the fact it was used in a R&T Road Test article back in the day is pretty cool, but sadly its lost its original 2 spoke Momo steering wheel at some point.

As for is $17,000 steep money for a Giugiaro Turbo?

Not If its a good one in decient mechanical condition, I paid ALOT more for my '83 10 years ago, and then spent over 10k bringing it up to scratch.

If you are fussy like me you will find issues with either of those cars that will require the expenditure of $$$$.

If I was to buy another today, I would search out a super low mileage near perfect example for around $25,000.
Right on, Wayne. People seem to think that just because some $12K basket case cars popup here and there that mint, fully sorted turbo cars can be had for $15K. Nope. Ya get what pay for and dont get whay ya dont pay for.

Nice catch on the steering wheel, I missed that :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
First, whoa. You Esprit guys are the best. Great input by all.

I live about 30 min. south of the black eBay car in Milwaukee so I could check it out for you if you are not local. I owned my '86 HCi for over 10 years so I know these cars very well. Just PM me if you need my assistance.
Really appreciate the offer. I'm somewhat close to WI by chance at the moment, so was thinking about heading up there this weekend as is. I'll let you know if I could use the help.

If I was to buy another today, I would search out a super low mileage near perfect example for around $25,000.
How about this one?

Cars for Sale: 1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo in Miami Beach, FL 33141: Coupe Details - 315311725 - AutoTrader.com

Except with one this nice, there's almost nothing left to play with/work on! Also the red exterior is just a little, flashy, for me.

Unfortunately I probably don't have the time to see both of these cars, so am really trying to decide between which one to travel to. Both prices seem fair to me based on what you guys have mentioned. I love the red/black color combo, but it is a little higher mileage, and again I just don't know what to think about that top. If the fiberglass has warped then those spots probably can't even be sanded out for a respray. Currently waiting on info from both sellers.

As far as for when I actually go to look at/drive these cars, any tips on what to look for in particular? Obviously I'll be making sure every electrical and mechanical device functions as it should, engine gauges within limits, no odd sounds, etc.
 

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First, whoa. You Esprit guys are the best. Great input by all.

Really appreciate the offer. I'm somewhat close to WI by chance at the moment, so was thinking about heading up there this weekend as is. I'll let you know if I could use the help.

How about this one?

Cars for Sale: 1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo in Miami Beach, FL 33141: Coupe Details - 315311725 - AutoTrader.com

Except with one this nice, there's almost nothing left to play with/work on! Also the red exterior is just a little, flashy, for me.

Unfortunately I probably don't have the time to see both of these cars, so am really trying to decide between which one to travel to. Both prices seem fair to me based on what you guys have mentioned. I love the red/black color combo, but it is a little higher mileage, and again I just don't know what to think about that top. If the fiberglass has warped then those spots probably can't even be sanded out for a respray. Currently waiting on info from both sellers.

As far as for when I actually go to look at/drive these cars, any tips on what to look for in particular? Obviously I'll be making sure every electrical and mechanical device functions as it should, engine gauges within limits, no odd sounds, etc.
That car has been for sale for a while. The paintjob kills it but thats my opinion. The red itself is beautiful(OK, mine is red but ya know :) ) but the black patches or whatever they are are yuk. You could check on that car though. It might be a really good.

As for what to look for on the HC cars:

1) Try to start it or have it started from cold. It will be a little rickety, especially at first but thats how they "are". The car should fast idle for a few minutes and then kick-down to about 900rpm. Thats when shes ready to drive. The Bosch FI system in the car can be complicated but if the car is driven regularly then it shouldnt require much tinkering or maintenance. If the FI system is problematic, trouble-shooting isnt very fun. Just make sure the fuel delivery is smooth which you'll know by driving it.

2) Volts should be between the 13 and 15 mark on the gauge. Oil pressure should be about 30lbs when idling and creep up from there. Under acceleration, oil pressure should be around 60lbs or so. The coolant temp should hang around 90 degrees but do NOT be alarmed if it creeps up between the 90 mark and the next line. Its normal. The fans should kick on if it gets close to the mark after the 90 point. Also, turn on the AC and verify that ALL 3 rad fans come on. The AC overrides the switch and turning it on turns on the fans.

3) Try all the gears and make note of the clutch/transmission operation. The clutch should feel strong and have good bite. Listen for noises and pay attention to how everything feels. These cars dont hide problems well at all so if something feels wrong it probably is wrong! The gears should engage smoothly with no synchro noises. The tranny in this car manages to be sloppy and precise at the same time. Some loosness in the shifter itself isnt a big deal and is likely just some worn bushings. Nothing to be overly concerned about. If you do hear some gear grinding, verify the clutch hydraulics are fairly new or serviced. They(slave and master cylinders) will cause shifting problems if bad. If they are newer - then you might have synchro problems and that can get ugly and expensive.

4) The brakes are fairly strong and should feel good. Pretty much like any other car. The rear pads can be a hassle to change since they are inboard.

5) Steering should be tight with minimal "dead space". If there is a lot of slop in the steering wheel then the rack can be on its way out which are hard to find and replace. There is no power steering so at slower speeds the steering will feel clumsy and require effort. At speed, the steering is beautiful and precise.

6) Suspension should be sports-car tight and the car should feel great around corners. Noises, clunks, or other abnormalities may signal some suspension work is due. Its all available though and isnt too pricey so its not a deal killer even if the car does need some suspension work.

7) The engine, even when warm will hop around at idle and not be super smooth. Thats the way they are. Valvetrain noise should be minimal although at startup some piston slap/extra noise is likely normal. They quiet down & smooth out when warmed up, like any all aluminum engine. The turbo should come on fairly quickly and lag should be minimal. From about 2500rpm through 5500 she should pull hard like a PCP-laden motha focka. Then, closer to 6K shes outta breath. Definitely take the car through a hard accelration process and pay attention. A healthy engine will feel strong and responsive, a tired engine wont. Its that simple.

8) Check the oil and the filler cap for signs of head gasket problems. The oil should be clean and golden colored. Dirty or milky oil is a bad sign. Check the coolant level in the swirl pot too. Should be nice and green. Any oil in there and Id run away.

9) As you said, try everything out like window switches, headlights, all that stuff. They can be corrected if something is wrong but the difficulty and cost can vary from job to job. The interior should be in great shape for a higher-priced car. The leather should be fairly soft and mostly wear-free. The rest of the interior should also look and feel pretty good. A few issues here and there arent a huge deal but like everything on this car - some stuff is easy to deal with and some isnt. Assess the issue and ask here if you arent sure.

Sorry to ramble on - just trying to help. Overall, they are great cars and I hope you plan on buying it to drive it and enjoy with the enthusiasm that it deserves. It will reward you back with miles and miles of pleasure that hardly any other cars can provide. :clap:
 

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The strobe side graphic on the red one is a reproduction of a design Julian Thompson did whilst he was at Lotus Design for a JPS Turbo Esprit that was never used on a production Esprit.

It has been rather "whored out", the chrome wheels, red instrument mask (instead of black abs), and Im not keen on the SR rated BFGoodrich radial T/A raised white letter tyres.

I personally could live with the chrome wheels, but would have to loose the graphic, the red gauge mask and those tyres (for some VR/ZR rated ones)

This is a nice one for sale up here in canada:-

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/Lotus/Esprit/TORONTO/Ontario/5_14047686_ON20071205112804374/
 

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I am a firm believer that the state of the engine bay tells you what you need to know about an Esprit. They are a pain to get to and the screws tend to go loose and things get tangled. A nice car will look like someone is doing non cosmetic work in there to keep it tidy, clean (not spotless but not horrible) and all bolted together. If the owner or whoever is servicing it has that under control then the car is generally pretty good. No engine bay photos would be a big no for me.
 

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Sorry to get in on this late,


I know the past two owners of the blue HCI in the first post (going back to the late 90s). If you want shoot me a PM.

In fact, it has been driven regularly this spring by another long-time Esprit owner (just to give it "exercise").
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I made arrangment to see the black esprit this weekend, and assuming all looks as advertised will pick that one up. They both look like great options. Speaking with both parties the blue is probably better documented/maintained, but I don't mind digging into this car to get familiar with it. Hopefully it can make the ~700 mile trip home without issue...

By any chance does anyone know if there's any special procedure to withdraw a large amount of cash from a BoA?
 

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I made arrangment to see the black esprit this weekend, and assuming all looks as advertised will pick that one up. They both look like great options. Speaking with both parties the blue is probably better documented/maintained, but I don't mind digging into this car to get familiar with it. Hopefully it can make the ~700 mile trip home without issue...

By any chance does anyone know if there's any special procedure to withdraw a large amount of cash from a BoA?
It's marked as sold on ebay. Is that you?
 
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