I was at a classic car show last weekend – a local, small-scale affair, not far from where I live – and while I was wandering around with a lady who has about as much interest in cars as I do in handbags, she spotted a Lotus Esprit S4. ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ she said. The relief. It was palpable. Now, she wasn’t moaning in the slightest about being there. She’s not like that. And anyway, it was the kind of nice, sunny day that makes it a joy simply to be outside. But still, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re dragging someone around who isn’t sharing in your excitement. So yes, I was jolly pleased that the little Lotus brought at least some shared joy and made me feel like less of a car bore.
She was right, too. An S4 Esprit is cool, and that car was red, which is a great colour that suited it. But my God, it’s not a patch on this little beauty. If we had an award for ‘The Coolest Car On PH’ - and I think we should by the way - this would be today’s winner by a country mile. Gold is probably the last colour most of us would think of for a supercar, but I don’t think an Esprit has ever looked better in any other colour. It’s not just cool, this thing’s liquid nitrogen, isn’t it? It’s off-the-flipping-scale cool. And who said that all that glitters is not gold? Codswallop. This S3 is gold, it glitters, and seeing it has just cheered me up no end.
I’ve said before how very handsome Giugiaro's design is, and it never dates. A Testarossa or a late Countach look spectacular, true, but they’re not pretty, as such. But this Giugiaro wedge has never been anything other than pretty – so pretty, not even those federal-spec rubber bumpers can ruin it. Yes, the purity of the original still has an edge on the later cars, but if you’re like me (long and gangly) then an S1 is simply a fantasy. There’s as much chance of me fitting in an S1 as there is opening my cupboard door and entering Narnia. An S3, on the other hand, makes ownership a reality even if you’re my height. That’s because Lotus tweaked the interior to create more headroom and a bit more legroom in the footwells, too.
It still has the Lotus lightweight ethos as well. This S3 has a naturally aspirated, Type 912 inline-four producing just 160hp from its 2.2 litres. Doesn't sound very supercary but it's all you need. An S3 weighs just over 1,000kg, which means that's all the power required to make it lively in a straight line and, of course, it's very nimble through the corners.
What more do you need from a 40-year-old classic? As well as the colour (did I mention I love the colour?) it also appears to have condition going for it. It’s not a garage queen by any stretch, as its 92,000 miles attests, but the advert states it was ‘Owned by the last fastidious owner for over 20 years who kept the car in very fine fettle’. Can you see anything to dispute that claim? I can’t.
Apparently, it had an engine rebuild just over 20,000 miles ago and comes with ‘a very large history file with lots of parts being replaced’. The most recent work includes a full service, cam belt and tensioner, plus a new manifold and downpipe. The engine bay, like the rest of the car, looks tidy, too. It’s just a magnificent thing. So much so that I am going all out there and predicting not one negative comment. Not even about the price, because how reasonable does £25,000 sound for a rare, tidy and stunning-looking supercar in today’s market? Very reasonable in my book. Ladies and gentlemen, I commend to you that this is the coolest car on PH today…
SPECIFICATION | Lotus Esprit S3
Engine: 2,172cc, four-cylinder, naturally aspirated
Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 160 @ 6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 160 @ 5,000rpm
Recorded mileage: 92,000
Year registered: 1984
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £25,995
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