my 1979 Lotus Esprit Series 2
I bought a Lotus. Actually, it's my tenth Lotus (there are groups that can help) and easily the best. Because it's gold. And brown. And has pop-up headlamps. It's also a Restomod - a restored and modified car, updated for modern roads.
People often say about Lotuses, with a knowing smile, "Oh, Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious". But those people have never owned a Lotus, or know anything of what they speak. Lotuses are awesome. Ask a child to sketch a supercar and they'll draw this - it's that level of cool!
But it didn't come all shiny and new. It came looking like it'd had a hard forty years. And so I set about realising a dream - a car for my inner '70's child. (actually, I didn't; some very nice people in Gloucester did all the spannering). So this is that other passion of mine.
Carried out by the superb team at Tomorrow's Classics.
The car before I took ownership of it.
The car as I bought it (and fell for).
Separating the fibreglass body from the steel backbone chassis.
The chassis and engine. This is what you don't see when buying a classic. This is where the wear and tear really is.
A much cleaned up, powdercoated chassis with cadmium plated suspension parts.
In goes an upgraded engine and bespoke stainless steel exhaust system. The engine uses a fuel injection system for better performance and fuel economy. It's been bored out to 2.2L and converted to a high compression unit. All-round better.
The body and chassis are married back up and with new [controversial] wheels. Note, the lockable fuel filler caps, rearview camera and parking sensors (you have to look really hard).
Work commences on the interior, with a bespoke binnacle setup and electronic dials (I got talked out of the gold facia; it ended up black).
You'd think old cars would be quite simple in comparison to their modern counterparts. Well, if this is simple, then...
The interior, very nearly complete. Champagne leather with chocolate alcantara. Note the Ferrari central ashtray (couldn't find an original Lotus item - they're even rarer!) and the round, resighted air vents.
The condenser for the air conditioning. It turns out, fitting aircon to a car without aircon is really, really hard.
The finished car.
In very gold
(championship champagne gold).
The high-mounted clock, in gold! (I made it myself. I know, you can hardly tell).
Apple CarPlay connectivity with rear camera viewer (because the rearview mirror is full of engine cover).
Bespoke LED rear lights. 204 LEDs per bank. They can't not see me now!
Kick plates named in gratitude for the work done by the team at Tomorrow's Classics. And because they look cool.
Engine output raised from 160 to 240 bhp. And torque from 140 to 190 lb ft (which is more than it sounds).
The full specification sheet with every job, every upgrade listed.
How it used to look.
And how it looks now. Note the 'L O T U S' badging on the glovebox lid and how the ashtray is the phone holder.
Better, I think. See how the gear stick has been shortened, to improve the throw. The seats have also had the runners removed to improve headroom.
And with a refreshed, bespoke binnacle cluster. The steering wheel is a limited edition, MOMO Mario Andretti 1978 world championship wheel.
Plus, actual in-car satnav, full phone connectivity and music straight from my phone. Genius!
All the lights are LED, including the running lights, positioned in the front air dam.
The wheels were 14 inch, but getting good quality tyres (essential for safety) for such an old size is near impossible.
The 17 inch Wolfrace replicas are larger and wider, allowing for modern compounds and greater mechanical grip.
Single exhaust for better engine breathing and modified rear lights lenses for the LED printed circuit boards.
The bodywork and wheels are ceramic coated for protection and gloss. So no waxing, no polishing!
In the autumn of 2021, the independent Lotus magazine, Absolute Lotus, ran an 8 page feature on the car. Ian Stent - a wealth of car knowledge - spent the day with it, me and another stock Esprit (also in gold - what were the chances?!) and gave his unbiased opinion of the work done.
It's a great article, even if considered purely from the perspective of whether, or not, restomodding a classic should even be allowed. It was a great day and a wonderful opportunity for some dynamic happy snaps.
By kind permission of Absolute Lotus, below are some of the pictures that they took. And, if you wish to read the article, click on the link below and it will take you to the Absolute Lotus website.
CR Classics Video
The owner of the other Esprit in the Absolute Lotus magazine article has a YouTube channel, and recently posted a walk round of the cars, pointing out some of the modifications, which you can view here.
There are follow-up videos which answer questions that viewers of this video raised, so check them out too.
In the spring of 2022, I met up with Richard Dredge, Editor of Classic.Retro.Modern., a relatively new publication that has come into being to celebrate cars of any and all background and provenance. Because true petrolheads enjoy motors of all flavours.
What I particularly like about Richard's take on my modernised Esprit, is that he has no specific affiliation or loyalty to Lotus. Classic.Retro.Modern. covers cars across the spectrum and so I knew that his take would not only be unique, but clear-eyed, unbiased and written knowing that he wasn't speaking to a particular fan base.
The result is a fair, outsiders' appreciation of the car and what I have done to change it from stock. Plus, they took some magic tracking and panning pictures! A link to the Classic.Retro.Modern. page for this issue is below. I recommend both the article and the magazine more generally.
Lotus Esprit Series 2 - Driven
A YouTube Video
I have been wanting to make a video - a dynamic of the Esprit out in the wild - for some time. There's lots of static stuff out there (cars in bits or well crafted pictures) but very little showing these cars actually in motion. So I did and here it is. It is literally me driving my car to the roundabout and back, but that's kinda the point.
I hope you enjoy the film and it gives you a sense of the car in motion, as if you were right there, along for the ride.