Since the release of the 1st Lotus Esprit in 1976 till present day and the release of the new model in 2008, the car has been an Icon worthy of Hollywood films and real car drivers.
Esprit (1976 - 1980)
The Lotus Esprit was first shown to the world in 1974 as as a car style project by famed Italian design studio Giugiaro Design. The show car was so successful, and received instant enquiries, that Lotus took the successor to the Europa into immediate production. The Esprit had a Glass-Fibre body, steel chassis with backbone and specifically engineered 907 multi-valve engine this was mounted in the middle, each wheel was fitted with independent suspension, a real trademark for the first Esprits.
Esprit Turbo (1981 - 1987)
The 2nd mark used a turbocharger utilising technology learnt from track racing and applied, this saw a power increase to 210 bhp from a 2.2 litre engine. The Turbo Esprit was uprated also with rear suspension & stronger chassis. The Lotus's styling was even enhanced a deeper front spoiler and taller rear spoiler, this enhanced the cars handling at higher speeds. The Esprit Turbo was now able to reach 0-60 mph in 6 secs and 150 mph Top speed. The power was increased to 215 bhp in 1986 with the addition of the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection used on such cars as the Golf GTI. The designer Burt Rutan was contracted by Lotus to make a prototype 2-seat ultralight car whilst Chapman developed a small lightweight engine. The project was never finished before Colin Chapmans death.
Turbo (1988 - 1989)
The Lotus Esprit gave up its original lines of Giugiaro and was given a complete makeover including curved and softer lines. The Lotus esprit interior was also redone all the electrical system was completely overhauled with wiring, switches gauges and central locking. In 1989 the car was given an ECU with Delco base components. The original bhp was increased 228 bhp, even the 0-60 times were reduced to a quicker 5.2 secs the increase made the Lotus Esprit capable of reaching 155 mph. To handle the power increase a Renault built 5 speed gearbox was fitted. The Esprit SE came after with the overall power of the increased 280 bhp this was aided by a Lotus developed Chargecooler & enhanced ECU which utilises 6 fuel injectors. The Esprit SE was fitted with a deeper frontal air dam & rear wing. The 0-60 time fell to around 4.5 seconds and top speed around 165 mph. In 1991 three Esprit variations were produced, the standard Turbo SE, the Jim Clark Esprit version, and the X180R a street legal version of the racing car.
Esprit S4 & S4s (1994-1995)
The S4 was an iconic milestone for Lotus. The Exterior was changed new front and back bumpers, valances, new sidepods, rear wing mounted in the middle, and 17 inch rims were added.
The interior received a larger passenger area and airbag then power assisted steering increasing the Lotus cars refinements. In 1995 the Esprit S4 was added to with the intro of S4s. An aggressive looking car with sleek more aggresive rear wing providing the extra downforce needed. The turbocharger was uprated, this increased the S4s to 300 bhp, the car was given racing suspension shocks and springs. The car was capable of reaching 165 mph and 4.6 seconds 0-60 mph time.
Le Mans / Lotus GT1 Esprit (1996)
In 1996 a new version of the Esprit was unveiled on the Paul Richard racing circuit for the 1st race of the GT series, the GT1. It ran a V8 Lotus engine, a six-speed racing gearbox, Formula 1-style aerodynamics, carbon brakes, down to the min weight limit of 900 kg. The Esprit GT1 performed well, but was forced to retire due to a fractured exhaust.
1997 saw the release of the V8 a compact, light but powerful 3.5 litre V8 twin turbo charged. The car became the fastest road legal Esprit - 0 to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds max speed 180 mph, the car adopted a new found supercar status.