This is the Lotus Esprit rally car...
...you didn’t know existed
June 2015 by Adam Wilkins for www.goodwood.com
Lotus didn’t produce a V8 engined Esprit until the 1990s, but prototype chassis number one had a V8 a good two decades earlier. Not that it was fitted with a V8 during its prototyping duties. The car was heavily modified by Cypriot rallycross driver Dimi Mavgropolis once it left the Lotus factory to suit his chosen motorsport discipline: rallying.
The Lotus Esprit’s rear overhang was much shortened with modified rear bodywork, and a spaceframe chassis underneath to accommodate the Rover-derived 3.9-litre engine and Hewland DG300 gearbox. Bodywork at the front was changed, too, with no shortage of louvres adding to the car’s purposeful look. It’s slightly rough and ready, but suits its intended purpose perfectly.
The car has been owned by Terry Maynard for almost three decades, and has been a FoS rally stage regular for the last few years. Terry regularly competed in rallycross events during his early ownership of the car, but these days uses it for only a handful of rally stage events each year.
Terry’s son Neil Maynard was driving it at the 2015 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard. “It’s really good to drive,” he says. “It’s quite tail happy but controllable. I rallycross a Triumph TR8, so I’m used to rear-wheel-drive, but being mid-engined this is a bit different. It never understeers.” Terry also has a Ford RS200, but Neil hasn’t been allowed to drive that on a stage yet. “I’m hoping to be allowed to soon,” he says.
The father-and-son clearly have fun with the car – that much you can tell from the skis on the roof and wooden fish in the driver’s door pocket, both inspired by the (very different) James Bond Esprit.