I’ve got a strange kink for the Lotus Esprit. I’m not bothered with the early cars…they were too plain and too underpowered for my tastes. No, it’s the 1996-2004 Esprit V8s that get my full attention. The 1970s wedge shape is still very prominent, but it’s got just enough modern touches to make it somewhat comfortable, and the aluminum 3.5L V8 (basically two Lotus 900-series four-cylinders mated together) makes the right noises and moves the car in the right way. The Esprit is poster-car material, with looks that matched up with late 1980s and early 1990s Ferraris, and it’s rarity means that it’s just about worth the trouble of purchasing and maintaining one, if attention is what you’re craving.
So why would we call a $35,000-ish Esprit V8 a “money no object” car? That’s actually mid-range value for an example, which this car easily sits at. First part of the wallet-drain is to bring the car’s services up to date, which is about $1,500 dollars depending on who does the service. The bigger drain on the wallet, but one that you’d really want to spend the money on, would be to either upgrade the Renault-sourced UN-1 transaxle to withstand the 500-horsepower capability of the V8, or to find any other transaxle to take it’s place. While the idea of ripping gears with a sequential box sounds absolutely delightful, the UN-1 can be upgraded to take abuse courtesy of a kit that was designed by Derek Bell that was sold through Holloway Performance.
Classic supercar looks and the ability to beat up Ferraris at will for the cost of a Camry, some services and a bit of hot rodding? Hey, we might not be into the supercar scene all that much, but unless you are willing to LS-swap an Esprit, we can’t think of a better way to do it! Just remember: this isn’t the James Bond submarine Lotus, so don’t do your best impersonation of a Bugatti driver trying to collect insurance with it!