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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am an avid Elise/Exige/2-11/Evora owner and have done most of the work on those cars myself. I also do all the car build and engine work on BMW E36 race cars. My question is I am thinking of buying a 1988 Espirt SE. How difficult is the car to work on? What issues will I face? Easy to find parts?
Basically want to get a sense of how easy it will be to tackle problems that will arise? Is the 1988 SE a ok one to start with?
 

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The 88 Esprit in the USA has BOSCH K-Jetronic Constant mechanical fuel injection, and a Citroen Maserati transaxle and 15" wheels.

The 89 has a GM MP4 electronic fuel injection (distributor-less) and a Renault transaxle and 15" wheels.

The SE 89-93.5 has an improved GM MP4 electronic injection with 2 extra fuel injectors in the plenum and an air to water intercooler, and 15"f ad 16" rear wheels.

The 89SE doesn't have airbags or ABS. The 90 has an airbag, and the 91 gained ABS.
Past that there is the S4 and S4s in '94-95, which got Brembo brakes (on later S4), power steering, new exterior parts, and larger wheels.

Personally I would start with the 89SE and higher unless you really want to mess around with a BOSCH mechanical fuel injection system. The GM electronics are easily sourced, reliable, and easy to diagnose.

more info here
http://www.espritfactfile.com/Mod_Info.html
http://www.lotusespritworld.com/models.html
 

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The 88 Esprit in the USA has BOSCH K-Jetronic Constant mechanical fuel injection, and a Citroen Maserati transaxle and 15" wheels.
[snip]
Personally I would start with the 89SE and higher unless you really want to mess around with a BOSCH mechanical fuel injection system. The GM electronics are easily sourced, reliable, and easy to diagnose.
[snip]
I drive an 88 and despite that, I also agree with this recommendation - 89 SE or higher primarily because of better parts availability/cost. And you avoid the Citroen transaxle circlip issue by getting the Renault transaxle 89 and onward.

Check my garage for my full maintenance history (29K miles worth).
 

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Cal H
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I assume you are referring to the 88 pearl white on ebay. It is listed as an SE but that is a mistake. What Travis states is correct. That 88 commemorative edition did come with a wing but in the engine pictures it clearly shows that it is not equipped with a chargecooler that an SE has. There is a price and a small performance difference between an SE and a pre-chargecooler turbo Esprit. Looks like a nice car.

Cal H
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I assume you are referring to the 88 pearl white on ebay. It is listed as an SE but that is a mistake. What Travis states is correct. That 88 commemorative edition did come with a wing but in the engine pictures it clearly shows that it is not equipped with a chargecooler that an SE has. There is a price and a small performance difference between an SE and a pre-chargecooler turbo Esprit. Looks like a nice car.

Cal H
Now that makes sense....I wondered about the SE badging as well...did not make sense to me despite my lack of Esprit knowledge.
I like it because it is close and a unique color combo....I actually would rather have a silver one.
What is the gong rate for an '89?
 

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SE recognition points.

1) chargecooler box on engine
2)6 fuel injectors rather than 4
3) arm rest has a door that opens with a cubby
4)wing on rear
5)wood dash
6)16" rear wheels
7)front air dam has 2 fog lights and 2 openings for oil coolers
8) sides of front air dam have shark gills for oil cooler exits.
9)lower sills of bods have straight edges with longer openings (88 & 89 have stepped sills with smaller opening)
10)rear lower valence is different as well.
11)88 & 89 often have grey sills and valences, SE does not.
 

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Cal H
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I actually would rather have a silver one.
What is the gong rate for an '89?
What you want is the 89.5 crossover SE model. It has some advantages and some drawbacks. Nicer non airbag steering wheel but has the older instrument binnacle that is harder to service as it must be removed unlike the 90 that the top pops off. But the 90 has that GM air bag steering wheel that many find objectionable. The late year 90 to 95 4 cyl had the trouble some ABS brakes.

Pricing varies greatly on condition and if it had solid up to date maintenance. I would think a fair price for a well sorted SE would be in the upper teens. As with cars there is a wide opinion on what is considered well sorted.
Some pre SE cars like Eddie's and Atwell's 88's are in well sorted documented superior condition and I would not be surprised if it sold for more than many SE's

Cal H
 

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Yep, personally I like the 89 SE, or some call it the 89.5 SE.

No airbag, I don't fit under the airbag wheel. And no ABS, the ABS is horrible and prone to parts failing like the unobtanium pressure limit switch. And I could easily replace the brakes with much larger ones without worrying about confusing the ABS

The 89SE binacle is pretty easy to remove, and you can work on it on the bench, rather than while stooped in the car.

Forgot to mention that the 89+ cars are much easier to work on than the 88, since the BOSCH injection on the 88 takes up most of the engine bay.

Docjay,

If you are looking for a trackable car, look for an X180-R (only 20 made, and more like in the $55k range though). Otherwise, you'll be upgrading the brakes.

I find the Esprit very easy to work on, parts aren't too bad, some are getting raer, though there are several great suppliers who stock the parts for these older cars, like JAE and Dave Bean in CA, RD Ent on the east coast, Sports Car World in TX, SJ Sportscars in the UK..
 

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Cal H
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Even when working properly they are not all that good. I don't know if you guys remember yeeha Scotty and Feff. I was following them around the track and they might have hit the chatter strip on the edge of the track and they were both mowing grass beyond the apron. I was like going crap I'm going to mow grass too as we all followed the same line and speed. Except my non ABS brakes as crappy as they were worked a little better and I made it through the turn. Later they both told me the ABS fired and they were off the track. But I told them that I was also a better driver so that probably helped me keep the car on the track LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Abs and airbag is not at all important to me and I will never track it except on the random parade lap......the 2-11 is much more track worthy:D

Yep, personally I like the 89 SE, or some call it the 89.5 SE.

No airbag, I don't fit under the airbag wheel. And no ABS, the ABS is horrible and prone to parts failing like the unobtanium pressure limit switch. And I could easily replace the brakes with much larger ones without worrying about confusing the ABS

The 89SE binacle is pretty easy to remove, and you can work on it on the bench, rather than while stooped in the car.

Forgot to mention that the 89+ cars are much easier to work on than the 88, since the BOSCH injection on the 88 takes up most of the engine bay.

Docjay,

If you are looking for a trackable car, look for an X180-R (only 20 made, and more like in the $55k range though). Otherwise, you'll be upgrading the brakes.

I find the Esprit very easy to work on, parts aren't too bad, some are getting raer, though there are several great suppliers who stock the parts for these older cars, like JAE and Dave Bean in CA, RD Ent on the east coast, Sports Car World in TX, SJ Sportscars in the UK..
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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That is a 40th Anniversary Edition car. So, in some ways it IS a Special Edition. (SE)

PM Turbo R, Roy LIKES the AEs. (They were the only 88s to come with factory rear wings.) They have some unique equipment (nothing that adds to performance, though) and might command a higher price than an 89+.

When used on a regular basis, the Bosch FI system works well. The hard part these days, is finding a mechanic that understands how it works.
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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How does the Bosch system work?
It can't be that bad is it?
The Bosch K-Jetronic system is mechanical fuel injection with rudimentary emission controls.

Unlike modern injection systems that use computer-controlled solenoids to pulse metered amounts of fuel into the engine, it uses a "Konstant" supply of pressurized fuel that is regulated by an air metering plate prior to the turbo. Wide open throttle = more air to push down on the plate, so more fuel is provided. Simple, isn't it?

An O2 sensor monitors mixture under ~3500 RPM, and the mixture is varied to provide complete combustion.

The system works accurately as long as there are no intake or vacuum leaks (which would bypass the metering unit or MCU).

Like carb'd cars of the period, there are various sensors to assure clean running during warmup and other conditions.

K-jet cars still used distributors. Some of the K-Jet FI components were unique to Lotus so those parts are becoming hard to find if they break.


The 15" wheels are getting difficult to find tires for. 89+ cars with 15 and 16" wheels are having the same issues.
 

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[snip]

The 89SE binacle is pretty easy to remove, and you can work on it on the bench, rather than while stooped in the car.[snip]
Hmm - I thought the 89 SE binnacle was easy to remove (top comes off) and easy to work IN the car? My 88 is a pain to remove AND it is best worked on a BENCH. See the video below where I pull my 88 binnacle for an upgrade to a mechanical vacuum/turbo gauge (use time index to find the location rather than watch the whole video):

http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/vdo-visions-vacuum-turbo-gauge-installation-1988-esprit-151673/#post2178409
 

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My car is an 88' and pulling the binnacle is really pretty easy. Nothing I want to do everyday, but it takes me less than 10 minutes.
 

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I assume you are referring to the 88 pearl white on ebay. It is listed as an SE but that is a mistake.[snip]
I monitor eBay auctions and it seems ALL 88 Esprits are mistakenly listed as 'Esprit Turbo SE'. If you have an CarFax or Autocheck account, I believe those will ALSO list 88 Esprits as 'Esprit Turbo SE'.

And in California, my 88 Esprit is not in the smog books during certification - they only have 89 and 87 (!). I have no idea how the smog tester worked around that but I've done 2 smog tests uneventfully.

So the 88 is not properly recorded in many key areas.

Note the 88 Pearl White ad has listed a number of errors:
1. SE designation
2. #66 of 88 (sticker shows it's 61)
3. ABS brakes - the 88 model year didn't have ABS
4. Makes comment that Anniversary edition comes in non-white - I thought they ALL 88 were pearl white?

I contacted the seller about the errors so he knows but don't know if he plans to change the ad.

At 9K miles, it looks in great shape, but like my 88, it probably needs a long overdue Service C ($$$) Definitely that timing belt change for sure.
 

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Hmm - I thought the 89 SE binnacle was easy to remove (top comes off) and easy to work IN the car? My 88 is a pain to remove AND it is best worked on a BENCH. See the video below where I pull my 88 binnacle for an upgrade to a mechanical vacuum/turbo gauge (use time index to find the location rather than watch the whole video):

http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/vdo-visions-vacuum-turbo-gauge-installation-1988-esprit-151673/#post2178409
The 89 & 89SE binnacle is one piece, the 90+ SE binnacle has the top that comes off, and leaves all the gauges on the dash in the car.
 

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Cal H
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Nope 89SE needs the binnacle to come off. Only 90MY and later does just the top come off. You can see the whole insides through the windscreen from outside the car. I tried to explain to Ed Gomes who had a 89.5 at the time how to remove the top and he kept saying I don't see the screws like in Sanj's pictures and we figured out the 89.5 pod had to come out to work on the speedo. My top comes off in 2-3 min. I don't mind working on the pod while seated because I am around the Colin Chapman height/weight like the car was designed for someone my physical dimension. LOL I don't even have my drivers seat set all the way back.

Cal H
 
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