We en­joy the Lo­tus Esprit S1 and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -

1 DAILY DRIV­ING This isn’t re­ally a car you can use ev­ery day. It feels very wide, and the lim­ited vis­i­bil­ity, shal­low rake rear screen and slop­ing front mean that it’s hap­pier out on its own with plenty of space around, rather than nav­i­gat­ing through crowded towns and cities. There are two boots, front and rear, which are prac­ti­cal to a point. But with com­po­nents and the spare wheel up front, and the intense heat of the engine nicely roast­ing any­thing in the back, you prob­a­bly won’t want to use an Esprit for the weekly gro­cery shop. Al­though it will save on the cook­ing when you get back home… 2 IN THE SER­VICE BAY The prospect of ser­vic­ing a mid-en­gined car usu­ally strikes fear into the hearts of po­ten­tial own­ers, but the Lo­tus is bet­ter than you might ex­pect. It helps that it’s only a four-cylin­der, so it’s sur­pris­ingly ac­ces­si­ble – you can get at the plugs, dis­trib­u­tor, car­bu­ret­tors and flu­ids with rel­a­tive ease. Ma­jor jobs are more of a chal­lenge and trans­mis­sion and sus­pen­sion is­sues are best left to ex­perts. There’s now quite a net­work of spe­cial­ists and parts sup­pli­ers to help look after th­ese cars, but some bits are bor­rowed from other rare ma­chines, not least the Citroën SM gear­box. 3 ON THE SHOW CIR­CUIT Frankly, if you turn up to a car show in an Esprit S1 dur­ing 2017 and the or­gan­is­ers don’t give you pride of place some­where, then they’re not do­ing their job prop­erly. It could be ar­gued that the Esprit was a clas­sic from the mo­ment it was launched, and the pas­sage of 40 years has done noth­ing to di­min­ish this, es­pe­cially given the an­niver­sary of The Spy Who Loved Me and the pass­ing of Sir Roger. You’ll find your­self the cen­tre of at­ten­tion at any show– just try to act like no­body has ever asked you where the switch to turn it into a sub­ma­rine is. 4 THE LONG WEEK­END If you’re con­tent with just you and one other per­son, then the strictly two-seater Esprit is ideal for get­ting away for the week­end – and you’ll prob­a­bly en­joy the get­ting there just as much as the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, for this Lo­tus laps up longer dis­tances. As for lug­gage, well, the two-oc­cu­pant limit does mean there’s less to carry. Take a chance and leave the front spare wheel at home, and you’ll be able to squeeze more in the front. Any­thing in the rear will not just be on full dis­play (un­less you fit the ultra-de­sir­able rear screen lou­vres) but nicely toasty too. 5 THE B-ROAD Blast As­sum­ing a B-road of ad­e­quate width, the Esprit’s point-and-shoot qual­i­ties make it the king of the cross-coun­try glee spree. The han­dling is ex­em­plary and cor­ners be­come a de­light rather than an ob­sta­cle. There’s enough power to en­joy the straights with­out get­ting into big trou­ble and the brakes are fierce enough to quickly bleed off the speed when needed. It is ab­so­lutely im­pos­si­ble not to take a Lo­tus Esprit down a quiet, twisty road and emerge with­out a huge grin, and an im­pres­sion that you’re ac­tu­ally a half-de­cent driver. Lo­tus abil­i­ties do that to a per­son.

yards of sweep­ing beige and brown suede make the in­te­rior very fu­tur­is­tic. Or at least how the fu­ture was ex­pected to look dur­ing the mid-1970s.

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