Homage to the Lotus Esprit

Cars

Some cars possess a type of power that cannot be measured.

It doesn’t even matter how long they take to get from 0-60mph. Or what their top speed is. Or how many cylinders the engine has. Or even where it is for that matter. Because certain vehicles, like the Lotus Esprit, harbour something far mightier than that. And that’s the power to stop people in their tracks.

It’s a force that can’t be explained by numbers. There’s no mathematical formula. It’s a conundrum that no mechanic can fix. That’s because there are no answers. A car either has it, or it doesn’t. Luckily, the Esprit has it – and then some.

You could liken early models – like the S2 we took on a romantic tour of its homeland – to the most beautiful of humans. The type that make your heart skip a beat when they enter the room. The ones who brighten every single part of your being. That give you hope and happiness in an instant despite knowing that somewhere, somewhere deep down in the pit of your stomach you may end up feeling let down.

Lotus Esprit lights

Yet if an Esprit conked out somewhere in the deepest and darkest depths of a rural village, the anger would soon subside. Once the charming headlights popped back up and pumped out those golden retro rays of light, you’d feel all warm inside and convince yourself that everything was going to be ok.

It was loved when it first came off the production line back in the 1970s. And it’s still loved now. Like an aging charmer, you know you should show it the utmost respect. But with its desirable wedge-shaped design and ridiculous lack of height you just can’t stop yourself from gawping.

Lotus Esprit profile

It’s a knack that legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro has pulled off time and time again. Making people ogle classic vehicles that wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. And it says it all that his signature piece is seen as the Esprit considering the stunning depth of breathtaking work at his disposal.


The warmth towards the S1 and S2 has, and will always, remain even though many car lovers’ feelings towards Lotus had cooled somewhat during their difficult times of the last few decades.

But as boss Jean-Marc Gales, who took the reins from Dany Bahar in 2014, sets about leading Lotus into the next generation you have to wonder whether he’d actually be better off going back to the future.

For all the rumoured Chinese takeovers, the Far East investment, the success in the United States, does anybody really care about who owns Lotus? Are they even that bothered about the faster and lighter Elise, Exige and Evora all being in the pipeline? Or Gales’ desire to fill the “gap in the market” for a “lightweight, good-handling SUV”?

Given Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s love for lightweight sports cars it’s ironic that cuts to the firm’s workforce have appeared to make things better – especially financially.

Yet, regardless of any balance sheet, there’ll always be credit in the bank when it comes to the love for the Esprit. It remains a joy to behold. A real British beauty. Born and raised on the back roads of Norfolk. Where it’s still stopping people in its tracks just like it did half a century ago.

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