1984 Lotus Esprit Turbo. Click image to enlarge
Originaly published August 15, 2014
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
“Shockingly reliable.” This is not the phrase that you expect to hear associated with any of the more esteemed British sporting marques. If Colin Chapman’s creations truly embodied his mantra of “Simplify, and add lightness,” then they also often got in the spirit of things by shedding important bits at speed. As the owner of this 1984 Lotus Esprit Turbo puts it, “You know the old bumper sticker: the parts falling off this car are of the finest British quality.”
However, this particular car, three decades old and having spent two-thirds of its life with the same careful owner, has bordered on bulletproof. It has been well-maintained and, moreover, maintained in a manner that would please any waste-not-want-not post-war Brit. When the starter motor gave up the ghost, it was sent out to be rebuilt rather than replaced, at a cost of a couple of hundred rather than thousands.
Curbside in Horseshoe bay, I fold myself into the cabin – no easy task with the left-mounted hand-brake directly in the way, adjust the seat, glance to confirm that the mirrors are, effectively, mostly useless, and then engage first gear with the walnut headed shifter. Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious? The onramp beckons – let’s go get in some.
Now, if this were Hollywood, I’d be making a left rather than a right, and plunging this silver dagger right into the heart of the bay. There, it would suddenly sprout fins and propellers, and we could go for a brief underwater tour, perhaps with a quip or two.
Audiences for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me saw James Bond doing just that, and while dear old 007 has had any number of cars in his lengthy career, the Esprit seemed to capture the imagination more than most. Alone of all the Bond cars, it can stand up to the Aston Martin DB5 as an embodiment of the rakish, devil-may-care spirit of the films – and besides which, it turns into a dang submarine!
You can see why the producers opted for the Lotus as their hero car: just look at it. Low, angular, and sharply creased, it’s part rocketship and part stiletto, a mid-engine fighter jet with the wings cut off and landing gear swapped for BBS alloys. When the current owner first saw an Esprit in the window of a dealer in Calgary, it immediately went on his dream driveway list. His garage, which at one point also contained a 993 twin-turbo and a Pozzi-blue Ferrari 360 coupe, soon found itself with a Lotus banner on the wall and an Esprit safely tucked away.