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Discussion Starter #1
Ok as I have been in love with the Esprit for a long time I am finding myself a bit ignorant about them.... Does the V8 power out weigh the weight difference of an S4? How many were brought in the country? and How hard is it to find basket cases that need restoring or salvage title cars that can be rebuilt? I like both cars and don't know if I can decide between the two outside of a performance difference......
 

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Scott Graham
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the performance difference is well worth it. My Dad has owned numerous model years of both including the ultra rare S4S model all the way up to the final edition esprit. The V8 has loads more torque and is much more drivable at low RPM especially with the high torque ECU. The turbo lag however is the biggest difference. the S4 as you may know utilizes a single turbo charger, whilst the V8 has a twin turbo system. the boost from the twin turbo system spools up faster and is less noticeable. its like a surge of power like you're getting thrusted forward with a massive wave in the ocean. the S4 is like a kick in the pants. there's very little power up until the boost hits and there there's the kick in the pants and off you go. They're both very different cars. I could recommend going with the V8, but that's my personal preference.

one little detail that sets them appart also, is the S4 has two filler caps. one on wither side, and the V8 only has one.

the latter cars also had better gear linkages, and clutch plates making that rough shifter feel less of a problem.


 

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The S4 has both fuel filler caps as indicated, but also the turbo boost gauge, oil pressure gauge, ice detection/warning system, and more.

But to maximize the power of an S4, you must: de-cat, put in racing chip (JAE has them), put green dot cams, and custom muffler that is not restrictive. A GOOD radar detector and laser shifter! I have these "upgrades" on mine.

I have never driven a V8, but I am sure mine would be slower. As indicated, the turbo lag is very noticable. But once the lag is gone, from 3d gear on, it is a monster-fast car. You can see where someone nearly buries the needle on my S4 on youtube, look under "lotus top speed", says "some guy in florida ...."
 

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Many state the s4s has the best balance with the light engine with many of the updates the v8's get. Like stated power can be increased and lag can be decreases......mhowever the same can be said about the v8 :)

For me it would be more about cost of ownership. Maintenance seems to cost 2-3 times more on the v8 due to cost of parts and also labor. However if you go new enough you get the updated dash........
 

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Scott Graham
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The S4 has both fuel filler caps as indicated, but also the turbo boost gauge, oil pressure gauge, ice detection/warning system, and more. "

Just a quick comment on this, the first year V8 in the US retained the larger binnacle with all these tachs included along with the S4s wing.

they then changed the wing to the "whale tail" design.

I believe the design remained the same through 1996 - 1997 then changed to the updated binnacle and wing in 1998.

old look:






new look:


 

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Never driven a V8, but like the look of the later ones.
Would love an S4S.

Performance numbers are actually not that different, although more torque and potential with the V8.

Upkeep and maintenance costs are better with the 4, and the V8 is much harder to work on.

They look the same, buT aren't the same.

Percentage wise always more V8s for sale. Why?

Randy
 

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The 4 cylinder is the more sensible choice by far. Great car. But I had to be difficult and get a V8 this time around.


1998 Lotus Esprit V8
 

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My car sneezes
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A while back an owner of a lightly modded S4 said, "Stock vs stock, the V8 Esprits were actually rated a tick slower than the 4 cylinder originally. I've modded my S4 and would put it up against any similarly modded V8 without batting an eye...Find a similarly modded V8 willing to have a go at it and I'll run it anywhere."

So the owner of a simillarly modded V8 took him up on the offer. It wasn't even close. Rumor has it a video was taken but never posted since there's no point in posting a video of an S4 almost instantly dissapearing from the camera. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So how hard is it to find a basket case or wrecked s4?


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So how hard is it to find a basket case or wrecked s4?


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It's difficult and not worth the effort. Unless you have A LOT of cash to make said basket case right, and don't mind throwing that cash away, you're far better off buying the best possible car you can, not the worst.

The amount of money you would have to spend to acquire a 'basket case' then make it right would likely be FAR more than you'd spend for a well maintained car. Especially if you're not doing ALL the body and mechanical work yourself.

Go that route because you want the challenge to bring a wrecked Lotus back to life, and have the resources to do so. NOT because you believe it to be a lower cost entry into Esprit ownership.
 

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In not looking for the cheap way out and I'm not rich per say! But I love working on cars and getting them back together the way I want! I'm not looking for a quick project. Lol also I have the time as I'm not married and don't have kids!


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The V-8 has a lot more pulling power at low RPM's and from a strictly feel point of view is more fun to drive. It is also a LOT more expensive to repair and maintain compared to the I4. Parts are hard to get for the S4, S4s, and V-8 making it difficult and expensive to fix a "basket" case. It will take you a long time to get all of the parts you will need and wind up costing you more than if you bought a "nice" one. What you can do is take a middle road and buy one that needs some work but will be a nice car when finished. Maybe the interior needs to be replaced, maybe the motor and transmission needs to be rebuilt, that kind of thing. A wrecked Lotus generally is not worth repairing. Because the mechanical parts are so much more expensive for the V-8 you should look at the I4's (up to '95). If you find a V-8 that needs mostly cosmetic work, paint, some body work, interior, many of those parts go back a ways to the S4 and S4s. These cars are on the rare side so it is not easy finding exactly what you want especially if limit your search geographically. Even basket cases are expensive because the parts are in demand.
David Teitelbaum
 

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Even basket cases are expensive because the parts are in demand.
That definitely seems to be the case. If you look at Guy's webpage, he bought a fire victim '99 in auction for $15K!

That's pretty crazy when you think about it. You are buying at auction, which is usually the cheapest way to buy it, you are buying a car that is not running, so you don't really know the condition of the car (which means you have no idea where the spending will stop), and it's always going to be a "leper" of a car because of the damage history (which means you will get much less on resale after fixing it up).

I bought a well maintained, unmolested, confirmed working, no damage '98 with low miles for $25K.

At $15k it just doesn't make financial sense to go that route. And if you want to tinker, it's better to buy a good one and do mods to make it better than just trying to get it back.

Now it probably makes sense to buy a $15K car and part it out to sell the parts on eBay.
 

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So how hard is it to find a basket case or wrecked s4?


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There was a slightly singed S4s on Copart.com recently... and now it is being parted out on Ebay. It would have been an relatively easy fix for Guy, but he only fixes V8's... I tried to get him to fix it, but he had already bought ~3 burned V8's that week...
 

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"In not looking for the cheap way out and I'm not rich per say! But I love working on cars and getting them back together the way I want! I'm not looking for a quick project. Lol also I have the time as I'm not married and don't have kids!"

Broncs,
We are in the process of rebuilding our second S4, a '94 and should be dropping the motor in next month. Total motor rebuild, redone brakes, fuel tanks etc. The car should be very good mechanically, but it will still need things done.
we rebuilt our first last year, a '95, and it is running well, but needs a few little things and will need some interior work.
Then plan to redo a '90 SE, after Tom puts his '89 Turbo back together after a complete rebuild and strip down for a paint job.

Both S4s are/will be for sale at good prices, and we are also available for pointers, tips and advice. We are still learning things every day. We are strictly hobby car nuts...no real expectation to make money except to cover parts and the rent.

Randy
89SE(no need for a rebuild.......yet)
 

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Many state the s4s has the best balance

I think Lotus themselves said that, but I could be wrong. Or maybe that was only in reference to the 4 cylinder cars.

But yeah I've read a couple different people say the V-8 overwhelms the Esprit's antiquated chassis.

For me it would be more about cost of ownership. Maintenance seems to cost 2-3 times more on the v8 due to cost of parts and also labor. However if you go new enough you get the updated dash........
Very good point. As an example, I believe someone on the forum illustrated the difference in servicing cost with a clutch replacement. IIRC It's a $1500 job on a 4 cylinder and a $5000 job on a V-8. But it could be a lot worse. I've read a clutch replacement on a McLaren F1 is something crazy like $15,000 for parts alone, and they last less than 10k miles. rotfl


So how hard is it to find a basket case or wrecked s4?
In the last 2 years, I don't recall ever seeing one. I forget the exact numbers, but S4's and especially S4S's are rare even among Esprits.I think they only imported three or four hundred S4's and around one hundred S4S cars into N. America.
edit: here's the actual production numbers: http://www.espritfactfile.com/Mod_Info.html

The closest I recall was a couple years ago, there was a red S4 on ebay with a salvage title. It might have only been a theft recovery. It looked nice, but obviously needed some work. I remember the owner had an external fuel tank rigged up because the original tanks leaked. Even with the bad title and big issues like that, it still sold for something like $16,000. Probably better off just getting a nice one to begin with. I've seen a coupe of very nice S4 cars sell for around 25k. Or if you want a fixer upper/project car, be on the lookout for an SE. I've seen a few beaters go for below 10k. I think they're better looking than the S4 anyways, but I admit power steering would be nice, and I hear the SE's have a lot of understeer built in from the factory. (although that might be correctable with the right suspension parts)
 

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For what it's worth, I own a 1999 V8 but previously drove an S4S (4 cyl).

I love both, but for me, the V8 wins hands down. Not only is there more power and a much nicer sound, the interior is much more modern looking and refined (especially with the smaller dash binnacle).

I'd say the driving experience is similar, but again the V8 wins for me with much more immediate and effortless power. With the 4 you have to wait a bit longer (though it is very savage once it arrives!).

The downside of the V8 of course is cost, but I wouldn't think that they are so far apart as to be night and day.

In my own situation I knew I could buy the 4 cylinder sooner, but decided to save up some more and get the V8 that I really wanted.

The only thing I really can't comment on is working on the 4. I've done a fair amount on the 8, but nothing on the 4, so I can't comment as to the difference there.

Good luck!
 
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