Archives for posts with tag: motorsports


I’ve spent some time in the garage this winter. That’s what you do when the weather is crappy and you have an Esprit. It never made sense to me why the “wine and cheese” crowd like standing around art meadowlarking, but I think I get it now.

Instead of a Matherly, or a Gursky, I gaze euphorically at a Stephens interpretation of a Giugiaro, which sounds suitably arty and European. Instead of sipping a 2000 Branaire Drucu, I’m usually drinking soda, and instead of listening to Phillip Glass, I have the grouchy bark of a Type 918 engine to nod my head too.

If you actually LOOK at an Esprit, it’s more like a gallery of art inside a really cool building. An exhibition, if you will, of some unbelievably cool engineering, stuffed in an unbelievably pretty concept. There is an elegant minimalism to the interior. Just what a driver needs, nothing more, but done in leather as only the English can.

Things get more interesting when you dig a little. I love the clever touches, like how the deck lid struts double as an antenna, or how the master cylinder doubles for both the brakes and clutch service. Nothing wasted. However, it’s the 918, and the power plants before it that are really something. A few of them are blue. Mine is orange. I never got that one except that Lotus has always loved its “special editions”. They are all stunning. For an engine it is a remarkably clean looking thing. Most of the engines I have seen have all kinds of hoses and wires everywhere. Ancillaries clapped on seemingly at random. Not this lump. The 918 would make a cool coffee table, and I suppose a few of them have.

There are actually contributions from other artists as well. AP brakes, as a design, make most disc brakes look, well, medieval. The UN-1 gearbox (maligned by hacks) had a production life almost as long as the Esprit itself. That’s actually kind of phenomenal for a transmission. It all blends together seamlessly and elegantly.

The story of how this automobile survived is, (if you are a car guy) fabulously entertaining, and any fan of the car should invest in Jeremy Walton’s fantastic book “”Lotus Esprit-The Official Story”.

The really interesting bit to me is that this auto was composed by a group of people that are engineers first, aestheticists second. Things like carpeting, movable seats, and doors are traditionally viewed with contempt, and yet this auto is a very complete package. I am lucky to have it.

I suppose I will actually start driving this thing soon. The streets are clearing up, and the temperatures will soon be high enough that I have at least the rumor of grip, and these cars were built with the intention of being driven. I can’t wait.

There is a silent prayer of gratitude the pilot of an old Lotus car utters every time he arrives safely at his destination. Mine will be 13 this year, and having only owned it for 30 “driving days” it’s service has abandoned me twice. I forgive it. Esprits are like that. They are so very good at what they do that you forgive them of pretty much everything. In fact, before this, I owned one just like it (but in red) that pretty much tried everything in the parts catalog to alienate me, and I still wanted more.

Is not right, and I know that. I blame it on three things: 1-in 1981 my mother took me to see “For Your Eyes Only” which featured a copper S3 (that utterly claimed me). 2-getting an elementary education at Catholic schools convinced me that suffering is a natural part of life. 3-growing up as a mediocre competitive swimmer gave me discipline even in hopeless situations.

There should be a picture of me in the shop manual…

It is so bad that if I suddenly found myself in possession of a phenomenal surplus of funds, I would completely ignore other Marques, and probably end up with a stable full of Esprits. It’s like a wedge shaped Rorschach test that I shamelessly fail.

I adore Esprits completely. The lines to me are perfect. I know the engine note is maligned by others, but I love it. The handling is good, the power is good. I fit in it perfectly, and at this point, I know them, so there it is.

Another thing about the Lotus thing that is remarkable is that when you obtain one, it changes your social life. The Lotus community is full of a wonderfully diverse but quirky collection of car people, each one worth knowing, and the factory encourages it better than any other manufacturer in automobiles.

As things occur to me, I will endeavor to noodle on about them in this blog. Welcome.