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Classified ad of the week:
Turbo Esprit
In light of the new Evora Sport Racer, here’s an actual sporty, racy Lotus from 1982...
Top Gear Magazine, April 2013

The Lotus Esprit Essex. Hold on just a minute and think about that. Essex. You've got a special edition celebrating the launch of the first-ever turbocharged version of your flashy, British supercar coming up, and you need a name. Having rejected, ooh, I dunno, ‘The Turb-o-liser', ‘Turbo Death Ray Special', ‘King Dong' and ‘Mighty Excalibur', Lotus went for ‘Essex'.

The guys had their reasons: keen to cash in on F1 glamour, they linked the car with their F1 sponsor, Essex Petroleum. I'd have gone for the Lotus Esprit Petroleum myself, but, hey...

If you want a sporty, racy Lotus, the new Evora Sport Racer might be a bit... disappointing. That's largely because it's not actually any faster or more aggressively tuned - it's a value-for-money super-spec special.

Nice as it is - and it is nice - it got us hunting the classifieds for a properly quick widow-making Lotus. Preferably with a turbo. And stickers. And an interior that bore a striking resemblance to an S&M dungeon. So you can imagine our excitement when we stumbled upon this advert for a Turbo Esprit.

It's carries the same silhouette as the S1 that Hammond fell in love with when Bond drove it under the sea and shot a helicopter down with a bumper-mounted missile. It has pop-up headlights. The gear lever is a sort of scrotum pole. And it's got a silly turbocharged engine in its backside. It is, in every tiny particular, a sporty, racy Lotus.

Despite bearing an uncanny resemblance to its S1 predecessor, the Turbo Esprit was actually a brand new car. Well, more or less. Outside, it got larger wrap-around front and rear bumpers, a full-width front spoiler for better air flow to the radiator and improved aero, and the tailgate design was re-scribbled to help with engine cooling. NACA ducts were also moulded into the sills to provide extra cooling for the hot new engine.

And it was, comparatively speaking, a scorcher. The 16-valve four-pot was punched out to 2174cc and got a Garrett T3 turbocharger mounted downstream of the twin carburetors. That meant it churned out 210bhp and 200 torques - not a lot by the Evora's 345bhp standards, but plenty considering it's featherweight 1,148kg mass.

The engine was shackled to the all-new zinc galvanised chassis with a four-point extra-wide mounting setup, which stiffened it up considerably compared with the S1. There was also new front suspension (largely pinched from the Elite) and the track was widened by an inch. The rear end was also redisgned to deal with the extra power and cornering forces.

Thing is, they had a tendency to get a bit... explodey. Which is why we were relieved to see that this 66,000-mile example has a big history file that includes a recent engine rebuild. It's even had the same lady owner for 25 years, and she made some fantastic spec choices - red leather interior, red-centre split rims, red graphics and a nice, discreet numberplate. Perfect for the Woman about Basildon,

Any takers for £14,950? Or would you prefer the Evora Sport Racer?


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