by Nigel Vaughan, Pwllheli
ClubLotus mag, Jan 2007
The Spy Who Loved Me”, 1977, and the Lotus Esprit. Along with many other schoolboys of the time, this had a huge effect on me – prompting the purchase of the Corgi 007 model and hours of re-acting the memorable helicopter chase and underwater antics from the film. 1978 saw many others move on to other crazes and interests but not me. Something had routed itself within me and this was far more than a passing schoolboy fad.
The summers that followed brought the holiday makers out in force to the seaside village that was my home and I was lucky enough to see many Esprits in real life!
The passion was increasing and the desire to own one was really kicking in. This, coupled with my love of the sea, boats and the Esprit’s aquatic history was almost becoming too much to bear! In 1982 I wrote to Colin Chapman and received lots of Lotus brochures and publication material (which I still have today). I made a quarter size Esprit as part of my ‘O’ Level design project, which included a few 007 extras but it was never amphibious!
The late 80s saw me owning full size cars of uninteresting heritage and unfortunately the Lotus was still some way off! As I grew older my cars became more interesting: a Reliant Scimitar GTE was my first restoration project and served me well for 8 years, various kit cars came and went, followed by a brief affair with a Porsche 944. An Esprit was what I always wanted – it had to be the original Guigiaro shape and having bought and restored basket cases in the past I wanted a good example this time. In May 2000 I finally acquired an immaculate Calypso Red one – it had taken me 23 years! I still have the car and will never part with it – she even made it out to Portugal with us and never missed a beat!
Life with the Esprit has been great and I still get so much pleasure from driving it, but you can’t stop a creative mind from planning the next adventure and in October 2004 I came across two scrap Esprit body shells (middle and rear of one car, front end of another). I was bursting with enthusiasm for another challenge and another project. I had done some sketches of an Esprit boat for the seaside and thought “can I do it?”, “Dare I do it?”, Wouldn’t it be great!” So I took the plunge and set about joining the two and turning it into a James Bond Esprit for the sea.
It was quite a slow project in getting going and used up an enormous amount of glassfibre, but eventually I had what I hoped was a watertight structure. One calm summer’s evening we went down to the beach for a test floating and yes it was watertight and very stable!
The rest of the summer and autumn were spent finishing off – painting, trimming and motorising before another test run but this time with power! And it works very well too! I couldn’t resist fitting a periscope, centre console with defense mechanisms (front harpoons, ground to air missiles etc), joystick control and revolving number plates.(Yes I know they were on the Aston and not the Esprit but I just had to do it!) I still have to fit a couple of gauges inside, some Esprit decals and my website address ncvdesign.co.uk on the engine cover for some “subtle” advertising before having the official launch ceremony next spring.
And what’s the significance of the name Edith displayed on the Esprit’s rear end? Edith was my godmother, she was always interested in my artwork and projects. She died of cancer a couple of years ago and left me some money which went a long way towards funding this project. All vessels need a name so I decided on Edith so that she will always be remembered whenever I set sail in her!
29 years of dreaming about emerging from the sea in an Esprit has now become a reality! I am lucky enough to have a red Esprit for the road and a white Esprit for the sea. Could a schoolboy from 1977 have dreamed or hoped for more!?
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