Lotus Esprit – The Highlights of a Legendary Supercar
1990 Esprit goes racing in the USA
Lotus enters the USA SCCA Race Series with the type 105. This heavily modified Esprit gained four victories and six pole positions in the eight races, finishing second overall in the championship. In October Lotus Cars USA put twenty SCCA World Challenge Racecar Replicas known as the X180R up for sale, with a top speed of in excess of 160mph and a 0-60 of 4.7seconds
1991 New vision
At the British Motor Show in October the Esprit range was shown with the new ‘High Wing’ which gave improved rear vision and the benefits of improved downforce. For this model the glass back was removed and replaced with an open tailgate with two oval vents on the engine cover, to reduce reward reflections and increase rear vision.
1992 Sport 300 hits the streets
Lotus unveiled their highest performance Esprit to date at the British Motorshow - the Sport 300. Developed from the X180R, this “race car for the road” offered a light weight body, race specification brakes, optional roll cage option and with 300bhp from the turbo and charge-cooled 2.2litre engine it was “at the time” the highest power/litre of any production car. 1993 Lotus returns to Le Mans
Russell Carr, current Chief of Design at Lotus, showed his first major
design project with the new face lifted Esprit S4. The S4 updates
included power steering as standard. Production of the Sport 300 production
car began in May and Lotus returned to Le Mans in June with two Lotus
Esprit Sport 300 racecars. This was the first works supported Lotus
entry at Le Mans since 1962.
1994 Lotus Esprit S4s
The British Motor Show was the venue for the unveiling of the new Lotus Esprit S4s, with a 285bhp engine, new wheel and tyre package, uprated suspension and the rear wing from the Sport 300.
1995 400bhp version of the Sport 300
Lotus announces it’s involvement in the GT2 category of the global endurance GT championship. Team Drivers were Alessandro Zanardi and Alex Portman. This substantially new GT racer was based around a 400bhp version of the Sport 300 with its F1 style aerodynamics giving 30% more downforce than the road car.
1996 Lotus Esprit V8
The Geneva Motorshow in March saw the introduction of the Esprit V8. The Esprit V8 replaced the S4, S4s and Sport 300. The Lotus developed twin turbo 32 valve 3.5 litre V8 developed 350bhp and enabled the Esprit to hit 0-60mph in well under 5 seconds. The V8, meeting all global homologation would be the engine to take the Esprit into the new millenium. The GT3 was also introduced as an entry-level Esprit. This was a stripped down version of the S4 using a 2.0 litre version of the 4 cylinder chargecooled engine.
1997 V8GT adopted the spirit of the GT3
October’s London Motor Show saw the introduction of the V8GT. This model adopted the spirit of the GT3 but with the V8 engine, and some of the luxury items of the V8 striped away, reducing the weight by around 50kg. All versions of the Esprit received a new style interior, including a new fascia with a smaller instrument binnacle, a new instrument layout to improve cockpit ergonomics and an all new heating and air conditioning system.
1998 The Sport 350 the most extreme road going Esprit supercar
The Birmingham Motor Show heralded the arrival of the Sport 350, the most extreme and focused development of the road going Esprit supercar ever to reach the market. The Sport 350 made intelligent use of the highest specification materials and components to give the car a true competition feel. Upgrades included race specification brakes, carbon fiber rear wing and Magnesium wheels, with a top speed of 175mph.
1999 The last four cylinder Esprit
With the introduction of new emissions legislation, the decision was made to remove the four cylinder Esprit from the line up and go forward with V8 models. To this date a total of 9186 four cylinder Esprits had been built.
2000 Lotus produces the 60,000th Lotus car
The new millennium broke two major milestones the manufacture of both the 60,000th Lotus road car the 10,000th Esprit.
2001 02MY Esprit released in November
The new 02MY Esprit was released in November with many improvements made to both the interior and the exterior including a redesigned rear light panel and light clusters adapting design elements used in the 2001 Elise.
2002 The Esprit reaches a milestone
The Esprit reaches a milestone in it’s illustrious history
when it celebrates it’s 30th birthday. The 2002MY Esprit would
not only celebrate the 30 years from concept but also, as importantly,
celebrate 25 years of the Esprit in the important USA market. From
the 1972 concept car to first production car in1976, through to
the Esprit of today, the Esprit is universally accepted as being
one of the world’s finest sports cars.
Published 22 October 2002