Classic Cars: 1981 Lotus Esprit Turbo: Get One While You Can Still Afford It

Not many cars have that supercar look yet manage to stay surprisingly affordable. This 1981 Lotus Esprit Turbo is a prime example. Sold last week for a mere $30,000 with only 18,600 miles on the clock, I managed to spend a few hours with it before its new owner came to pick it up. But other than looking good, what else do these notoriously unreliable cars have to offer?

It was the James Bond car that went “Boom” after enjoying one measly minute on the silver screen in For Your Eyes Only before being quickly replaced by a Citroen 2CV. What a glorious career start.

Despite looking like what a seven year old might come up with when asked to draw a fast car, the S3 was originally designed by Giugiaro and was its last incarnation before its redesign in 1987. But this particular Esprit, in spite of a very low mileage, has seen some action. It was more of a slumdog than a garage queen. Left untouched, under the sun for years, the low quality leather of the dashboard was left to burn, day after day. When I first saw the car and noticed how dirty it was despite its low mileage, I felt my heart breaking. I wanted to give it a big hug and whisper into its vents that everything would be alright and that she’d get to see her Japanese touges again.

Luckily the work required was mostly cosmetic and thanks to Japanese weather the chassis rust was non-existent. After a massive clean-up and an oil change, the engine started perfectly, which was a bit surprising for something handmade in the UK during the 80’s… Over the next couple of weeks, the fluids were replaced, the AC was refilled and the sun-burnt dashboard leather was replaced. Finally we were go to go for a first stress test-drive.

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