LEW Oxford Meet
@ Heythrop Park, Oxford
23rd April 2006
The Lotus Esprit World Oxford Meeting took place on 23rd April 2006. Lotus Esprit World (“LEW”) have run these meeting for the last few years and they’ve been getting more popular every year. Usually run twice a year, this years first meeting was held at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire. With over 75 people and 40 Esprits gathering it was quite a meet. Lotus engineers again turned up, as did Club Lotus chairman Allan Morgan. Gearbox Upgrade Guru Derek Bell also made the trip to update us on that project.
LEW's Esprit was sporting it's new Sport 350 wing and still shining from it's valet by Valenting-R-US as it hooked up with Ken Baird's 1976 White Esprit S1 to travel to the meet. Light rain was falling as we set off, which wasn't a good sign. Being lazy the postcode was typed into our TomTom and we were off.
Unfortunately the TomTom decided to take us to Heythrop Park's small Zoo instead of the country house. As the TomTom said 'You have reach your destination', Our small convoy of an SE and S1 had 3 camels on our left, Monkey's infront of us and 3 peacocks to our right. The muddy entrance to the zoo also made quick work of our shiny Esprit! Not a good start so far!
As planned we were the first to arrive at Heythrop Park (via a quick trip to the zoo) at just past 9am. This gave us time to have a look over Ken Baird's interior of his beautifully restored S1. The interior is like a time warp and is as it would have been on leaving the factory.
This is how the S1 should be, white for the James Bond link and sporting the tartan interior.
Lotus were next to turn up. Brian and Geoff brought along the Engineering departments US-spec V8 on the 3 hour trip from the Factory. They were to have a busy day! Justin Mcaulay brought down a supercharged Exige from Lotus Dealer Peninsula.
Heythrop started to fill up by 10am, with Esprits pouring in. Most examples could be seen with some really nice Giugiaro's turning up.
One of those was Troy Halliday's Turbo Esprit. These pictures don't do the restored Esprit any justice. Both inside and out was in the sort of condition most of us dream about. Especially the engine, which must of had quite a few hours spent on it.
Around 10.30am it was decided to change the layout of the day due to the weather. Although it wasn't actually raining, the roads were still wet and slippy and with around 40 Esprit we didn't want to have any incidents. We decided to do the talks first before eating, giving the roads time to dry out for a run after lunch.
Owners were given the chance to chat and browse the cars until 11am when everyone was gathered together and ushered into Heythrop Parks Wedgwood Room, which Heythrop offered us free of charge.
With 70+ people piled in, we started the more technical side of the day. After a few words from LEW's kato, LEF's Andy and FreeScan guru Dermot, the floor was handed over to Allan Morgan, chairman on Club Lotus. He spoke about creating a better relationship between the Esprit community and the club and also of up and coming club events. We are hoping to work closer with Club Lotus in the future, as it can only benefit Esprit owners.
Brian and Geoff took the floor next to give us some information on current issues affecting Esprit owners. These included heating and A/C, BHP figures, Gearbox and transmission and information on both the suspension programme and the gearshift services kits. They brought a few parts with them to demonstrate maintenance and plenty of facts and figures. The also kept us updated on what they're working on at the factory and what difficulties they have to overcome.
Derek Bell was last but not least. He gave us an update on the Esprit Gearbox Upgrade. Lots of changes have been made to the kit, which now means it possible to use your original clutch. Plus improvement in gear ratios and syncro's. All this on top of extra strength to finally rid the Esprit of it's power-limited gearbox. This upgrade has the full backing of Brian & Geoff at Lotus, who have been working closely with Derek.
After all that talking it was time to eat. 72 Esprit nuts sat down for a Sunday Lunch. Plenty of Esprit talk as usual and a pretty happy crowd.
At around 2pm it was time to get in the cars and start the delayed run. Heythrop is much easy to get the Esprits out of and in some sort of formation.
With the Lotus Engineers staying at Heythrop, some owners took the opportunity of their knowledge and had them checking over their Esprits. We heard rumours a few gearchanges were looked at and instructions given with the help of the parts they brought with them on changing the parts that will soon be available in the gearshift service kits.
With a few staying back at Heythrop we had 33 Esprits hitting the beautiful roads around Oxfordshire. Once of course we were out of Heythrop's large grounds.
The usual reforming stop was made and gave people the chance to chat again. With the roads still a little damp the run wasn't particularly quick, but with the sweeping bends around Oxford, still very enjoyable. With Esprits as far as you could see it was an great drive on a miserable day.
After reforming we continued on the planned route back to Heythrop arriving at around 3.30pm. Everybody got back safely and an enjoyable run was completed.
Back at base, some headed off home, while other hit the bar, for a tea or coffee of course. Considering the weather, the meeting was a great success. This is the most amount of people to attend one of our meetings, and on a miserable day. No team photo, as we forgot! Oh well, there's always next time!
Thanks to everybody who turned up for the meeting. Without the owners, it's not a meeting. Owners were very approachable and the atmosphere was very friendly. A great group of people who own great cars. We should all be very proud of our community. We're just sorry we didn't get a chance to chat to more people. There's a lot of interesting owners and people we'd like to speak to for longer, but with 70+ people, time is spread very thin.
We'd like to thank Heythrop Park for having us back and LEW would also like to personally thank Brian & Geoff from Lotus for coming down and giving their time, there's not many companies who have this type of relationship with owners, we're very lucky. Thanks also to Allan Morgan from Club Lotus and Derek Bell for speaking to the group. And of course the people who make it all possible. Dermot, Rob Ellis, Andy Betts and Paul Chandler.
See the Esprit leaving Heythrop for the run
filmed by Alan Paterson
See you next time.