Lotus Esprit History
Th Esprit was first shown at the Turin Motor Show in 1972. The Cars body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Ultimately getting to production was harder than expect and the S1 wasn't delivered to customers until 1976. The S1 was quite close in style to the concept car, with a 2.0 liter engine design by Lotus attached to a Citroen gearbox.
The S1 was replaced by the S2 in 1978, with only a few external and internal changes, it was basically a fix for all the S1's problems, the main one being cooling. The S2 was followed in by the S2.2, which was basically an S2 with a 2.2 liter engine instead of a 2.0 liter. Lotus also released a special edition S2 in JPS colors to celebrate winning the F1 championship.
The next Esprit was the turbo in late 1980. This was a very different car underneath, including a new stiffer chassis, and looked slightly different due to a body kit. The first version of the Turbo was the Essex (One of Lotus' F1 sponsors). Carrying a 2.2 liter turbocharged engine and making 210 bhp, it was legitimately fast. In 1981 after the success of the Turbo Esprit, Lotus launched the Esprit S3, which used the new turbo chassis, but carried an un-turbocharged engine and lost the body kit. This is called an NA for normally aspirated, basically meaning no turbo. The S3 was produced till 1987.
The redesign of the body in 1987 by Peter Stevens was coded as the new body Esprit X180 (you may see them called an Esprit X180). The restyled bodied Esprit replaced the Turbo Esprit and S3 with the Esprit Turbo and Esprit NA. These cars were almost unchanged mechanically, but carrying a new Renault gearbox. The Turbo and NA Esprit's are hard to tell apart.
In 1989 Lotus released the Esprit SE, which was the fastest Esprit to date with 264 bhp and a top speed of 165mph. The SE got the 2.2 liter, 4 cylinder, Turbocharged engine, but was now intercooled, using Lotus own Chargecooler. This allowed the engine to produce more power. The SE was also the first model to carry a rear wing, which makes it easy to tell apart from the more basic Turbo.
In 1993 another restyle was done in-house and the S4 was produced. This was the first Esprit to carry power steering, which would now be on every model released. Mechanically the same as the SE, this was an update to make the Esprit look more modern, with new bumpers, spoilers, wheels and interior. This was followed by a limited edition Sport 300, which was a race car for the road. The S4s was a mixture of the two, with an impressive 300bhp, still from the same 4-cylinder engine, released in 1995.
In 1996 the Esprit V8 was launched. Lotus took an S4s and added a brand new 3.5 liter, twin-turbo V8 engine (FINALLY). The V8 engine made 350bhp and had a top speed of 175mph. In 1998 the Esprit V8 got a new rear wing and a major interior overhaul. Lotus now offered two V8s, a cheaper V8-GT which came without a wing and other options and the fully loaded V8-SE. Both carried the same engine and performance, but the SE was more luxurious.
In 1999 Lotus released the Esprit Sport 350 with a limited run of only 50 cars. A track inspired car, with weight saving the main object. This would also be the most expensive Esprit ever but it had tasty stuff like magnesium wheels, a carbon fibre wing and AP Racing brakes. The Sport 350 is the ultimate Esprit. 2002 saw the final update to the Esprit. The Esprit V8 02 was basically a V8-SE for GT money. New wheels, rear lights and the Sport 350's brakes made the 02 quite a bargain. Production of the Esprit stopped in February of 2004.