In terms of head-turning looks, low production volume and general rarity on our shores, few mid-engine sports cars can match the exotic, iconic Lotus Turbo Esprit.
This model had a fascinating and complex history in the American market, and some of the least-known examples ever imported have been the unique Special Edition models of 1983.
The Esprit made its first appearance in concept form on the Italdesign stand at the 1972 Turin Motor Show, the product of stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro.
A production-ready version debuted at the 1975 Paris Motor Show, and the first examples were sold to buyers in the summer of 1976.
Those "S1" cars formed the mold the Esprit would follow until 1996: fiberglass bodywork over a steel backbone chassis, a fully independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and a high-strung, longitudinally mounted DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder; This model had a fascinating and complex history in the American market, and some of the least-known examples ever imported have been the unique Special Edition models of 1983.
The initial Esprits that came here in 1977 made 140 hp, about 20 fewer horses than the home market received, as a result of U.S.-mandated emissions equipment. The S2 model, which arrived in summer 1978 for model year 1979, brought some cosmetic refinements.
This was also the base for the famous limited-edition (147 built), black and gold World Championship Commemorative Esprit, which celebrated the Lotus Formula 1 team's world championship.
The Esprit finally got the power it deserved when the more aggressively spoilered Turbo model debuted in 1980. This car's 2,147-cc engine was fitted with a Garrett-AiResearch T3 turbocharger and two twin-choke Dell'Orto carburetors, and it made 210 hp at 6,250 RPM and 220-lb.ft. of torque at 4,250.
This was enough to drop the 0-60 time from roughly 9 seconds to 6.1 seconds and push top speed into the 150-MPH range.
The company was struggling financially, though, and U.S. importation of these two-seaters had been spotty before it ceased altogether that year. A clever, well-connected, New York-based attorney named Wesley C. Fredericks Jr. formed Lotus Performance Cars--an import and distribution company with a consolidated network of dealers--to finance and import new Lotuses in 1983.
A result of Lotus Performance Cars' labor was a series of Special Edition Turbo Esprits, primarily intended for the investors who supported LPC.
A total of 50 1983 Special Edition models were built--47 for the investors and three for general sale.
The standard appearance was Silver and Chrysler Steel Gray paint with a red pinstripe, although 33 were built in individualized color configurations. All got a removable tinted glass sunroof, a blueprinted and optimized engine, an upgraded suspension, an upgraded Blaupunkt stereo, air conditioning, an anti-theft system, premium Connolly leather upholstery, a hand-painted "Special Edition" insignia and build number (00-49) on the driver's door and a hallmarked, individualized silver plaque on the steering wheel.
Film appearance: Roger Moore in his second 007 film “For your eyes only”, starring the Esprit Turbo in white as himself seen in movie in Corfu and Cortina D’ Ampezzo rather than the underwater world.
OUR CAR :
Manufactured in the September 1983 in Chrysler steel grey (A-38) destined for the American market got imported in Europe in October 2002 with a clean title as for the Carfax report preserved in the car extensive file .
The car has had a series of well known owners such as John Richardson, Gene Teoutman. All the precious owners meticulously maintained the car each one adding their annual services and extraordinary maintenance highlighting for the future owners and mechanics procedures like carb setup and others.
In 2008 the car benefited from an engine rebuilt at 20.000 miles . Notable maintenance works between 2016 and 2019 which amounted to 20.000€ complimenting the low mileage and overall great condition .
A genuinely rare example with an even rarer color combination true to the Colin Chapman’s ideals for lightweight performance and unparalleled looks with movie star credentials .
Available from Veloce Classic Italia, Padova, Italy.
Price: 95.000 euros