Buying an early esprit
‘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.