1988 Lotus Esprit: The long-liver supercar

1988 Lotus Esprit: The long-liver supercar

1988 Lotus Esprit: The long-liver supercar

EngineInline 4 Horsepower218 HP at 6000 rpmTorque298 Nm @ 4250 rpmEngine LocationFrontDrive TypeRWDWeight1566 kg / 3452 lbsTransmission5-speed manual

Debuted in Turin in 1972, the Esprit was introduced as a concept car by Italdesign-Giugiaro, based on a shortened chassis from Lotus Europa. It was the first project of the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro created in the era of polygonal “chopped” design, known as “folded paper”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Esprit was the latest creation of the then head of the British company Colin Chapman and the high point of the brilliant Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. Of course, the Esprit was unthinkable without its predecessor, the Europa mid-engined coupe. Powerful 105hp two-door automobile with excellent handling successfully beat competitors in race tracks but lost the market. Put aside a controversial (some thought ugly) appearance – Europa did not look like a “flying arrow”, reminding rather of a clumsy pickup truck. When it was clear that even a champion could not be sold with such an appearance, Colin Chapman turned to the Italians: no one at that time drew vehicles better than them. Chapman came to Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was just starting his career. 

The origins

Source: Classic & Sports Car

The Lotus Esprit was a remarkably successful sports vehicle, which lasted in production for nearly 30 years. Its history began in 1971 with the meeting of two geniuses: Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, and Giorgetto Giugiaro, founder of ItalDesign studio. Chapman was looking for a designer to replace the ugly Europa. As for Giugiaro, he needed publicity for his newly formed atelier. However, mutual understanding between the partners did not arise immediately. They did not even have a consensus on how to name the vehicle: the Italian chose the exotic name Kiwi, while Chapman insisted on keeping the tradition and starting all brand’s names with the letter “E”. Dissatisfied with testing a scale model in a wind tunnel, Chapman suspended the project, but Giugiaro continued to work on the project on his own, using a stretched Europa chassis. In 1972, the first concept known as the “Silver Car” was presented at the Turin Motor Show. Its body was made in the then fashionable wedge-shaped style, with sharp edges and flat surfaces. The positive reaction of the public convinced Colin Chapman to approve the project and prepare it for serial production. In 1973, the second prototype (“Red Car”) appeared, and in 1975 the final version of the Lotus Esprit debuted at the Paris Motor Show.

The 1988 model year

Source: Mecum Auctions

Italian design and incredible technical characteristics made this sports vehicle the king of the rally. The 1988 release was reminiscent of the design of the Lamborghini Countach and other wedge-shaped supercars in some elements. At the same time, the design of this beauty was unique and beautiful. In 1988, a new version of the model was released, which was developed by the British designer Peter Stevens, under whose leadership such famous sports vehicles as the Jaguar XJR-15 and McLaren F1 had already been created. This time, the taillights were borrowed from the Toyota Corolla Coupe. Giorgetto Giugiaro liked the restyling of the automobile but was sure that the new model was too similar to his original project. As for the technical equipment of Stevens’s version, it was almost completely identical to that used in previous versions, and both turbocharged and atmospheric engines were also available. However, there were some differences: a more reliable gearbox in a block with a transmission from Renault and a new Delco GMP4 EFI electronic fuel injection system. The 1988 edition had a medium engine layout and was rear-wheel drive. The automobile was equipped with a standard 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. The volume of the engine was 2.2 liters. In addition to the base model, there were also modifications S (228 hp) and SE (243 hp), also a racing version of the Sport 300, with a power of 300 hp. The base model accelerated to “hundreds” in 5.4 seconds giving out a maximum speed of 240km/h.

Did you know?

Source: Historics Auctioneers

When Ferrari and Porsche for some reason refused to provide their models for the film Pretty Woman, a 1988 Lotus Esprit appeared in the movie and tripled its sales. Then a later model appeared in “Basic Instinct”. 

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1988 Lotus Esprit: The long-liver supercar

EngineInline 4 Horsepower218 HP at 6000 rpmTorque298 Nm @ 4250 rpmEngine LocationFrontDrive TypeRWDWeight1566 kg / 3452 lbsTransmission5-speed manual

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