Lotus Esprit Tuning

"A free Spirit"

The Lotus Esprit is an iconic supercar.

First produced by Lotus in 1976 it has had many revisions and model changes right up to 2004.

It is a personal favourite of mine and probably the first car I ever really noticed!

The Esprit sales figures peaked just after a major model revision (slightly more curvaceous and known as S Cars) in the late 1980's but sales rarely exceeded 1000 units per year.

This makes the Esprit very exclusive and is probably the reason why there are so many well cared for examples around today.

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The 1980 - 1987 models seem to be he ones to go for and are reportedly quite reliable and still have many examples around.

The best engines for the Esprit tuner would arguably be the turbo editions but these are more prone to problems due to the extra stress the engine is under. The Later Esprit SE from 1989 had an effective intercooler and is touted as one of the fastest Esprit models ever.

Produced in small numbers by a dedicated workforce there are still plenty of fine examples of the Lotus Esprit around today.

The S4 models from around 93 shared many parts from Vauxhall making it relatively easy to source spares and guarantees better reliability. The mighty NASP V8 SE is worth a mention also as the engines are very solid and a pleasure to work on.

Looking at the various limited edition models gives the Lotus Tuner an idea of where to focus attention. The earlier models saw improvements when the suspension was upgraded, turbo models also benefited from an intercooler upgrade. The limited edition sports models generally were stripped out and fitted with every light weight option from seats to alloy wheels.

Lotus esprit

The Esprit, of any year is a pleasure to drive.

The low stance combined with the wide wheel base and general car setup give supreme road holding and handling ability.

Your choice of tyres can make a big difference to this so we recommend some street legal track day slicks for the dry. Then a set of Toyo Proxies or Eagle F1 for good all round performance (this depends a lot on your tyre size and what is available) but a V grooved tread patterns do lend themselves nicely to the handling of the car.

The turbo engines will benefit from a turbo upgrade. Use either a hybrid OEM turbo with uprated internals or go for a large turbo conversion. If you hike the power too much you may well hit problems unless you have done some engine strengthening work. Also a more efficient intercooler will help to raise the power figures.

The NA (naturally aspirated) engines respond well to gas flowing of the head. Pay attention to the area around the valves and aim to create a swirl into each cylinder to get every last scrap of power.

Early models fitted with the twin 40's can be upgraded to the 45's and will see a good power gain from this alone. Internally a set of big valves and performance cams will also raise performance although we at TorqueCars wouldn't recommend an aggressive cam profile if this for a daily driver as the car is already quite well setup in this regard.

EspritChoose good quality pads and disks, these can make a massive difference to the braking of the car and is not really a part you can skimp on.

Restoration projects give a lot of scope for improvement. Suspension components and braking components particularly suffer with age. Look to upgrade these rather than just replace with OEM items and make the most of the opportunity. At 80,000 miles upwards there is a lot to be gained by rebuilding the engine and this affords a good opportunity to fit more solid components allowing you to raise the power bar further.

Cryogenically treating the engine will actually make it stronger and more reliable allowing you to maximise your scope for tuning.

General running costs are quite high for the Esprit compared with everyday cars. Cutting corners and skimping on servicing is always a bad economy and you will end up with bigger bills biting you in the future.

We have a growing number of Lotus enthusiasts in our forum, so drop in and say hello and tell us all about your Esprit tuning and restoration projects.

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