Buy­ing an early esprit

Classic Cars (UK) - - Driven -

‘What you’ve got to re­mem­ber about Esprits – es­pe­cially pre-s3 – is that they aren’t bud­get cars,’ says Paul Matty, Lo­tus spe­cial­ist of four decades. ‘They’re very ex­pen­sive to re­store, £70k-£100k to do it prop­erly. The best S2 will cost £60k-£65k. Av­er­age ones are £40k-£45k, but £15k-£30k is un­eco­nom­i­cal project ter­ri­tory.

‘Start with the chas­sis, get it on a ramp and check it for cor­ro­sion. If it’s rusted you won’t just need a chas­sis, you’ll need to re­place the in­board brakes, sus­pen­sion, bushes, ra­di­a­tor, fans and coolant pipes too, tak­ing you to £20k al­ready. And those pipes are an en­gine-out job.

‘Other en­gine-out jobs in­clude clutch re­place­ment and new fuel tanks. All th­ese jobs take be­tween eight and 12 hours, at £75 per hour. Parts avail­abil­ity is an is­sue too, es­pe­cially for the Maserati gear­box.

‘Paint­ing re­quires all body pan­els to be re­moved and the glass needs to come out – it’s bonded in and usu­ally cracks dur­ing re­moval, so add an­other £1000 to the £7k job.

‘The en­gine can be frag­ile and not ser­viced prop­erly be­cause of its mid-mounted lo­ca­tion and dif­fi­cult cool­ing sys­tem. A re­build costs £7k-£9k de­pend­ing on how many old-stock parts need sourc­ing – re­place­ment cylin­der heads or ex­haust man­i­folds aren’t avail­able.

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