Tuesday October 30, 2018
‘It sounds just awesome’. This is just one of the reasons why Richard Thorn enjoys his 1996 Esprit V8. ‘I bought it six years ago almost to the day, and it is my third Lotus. I had the basic Excel first, and then an early Esprit X180 - and finally this one’. The V8 debuted in 1996 at a price of £58,750 and powered by an all-aluminium DOHC unit with twin Garett turbochargers to a maximum speed of 175 mph.
Autocar thought that the V8 was ‘as fast, agile and entertaining as any other car in its price range, and its handling remains a unique joy in the right circumstances’, and Car magazine tested the Lotus opposite a Ferrari F355 and a Porsche 911. The scribe observed ‘This is a supercar like no Esprit before it, no doubt about that. You could hardly need more thrust. The chassis is up to speed with the speed too’.
A year later Road & Track compared Norfolk’s finest with its Italian counterpart and concluded ‘The bottom line is that both represent the ultimate in sports cars with head-turning shapes and extraordinary V-8 powerplants’. Richard’s observations are more concise but just as telling – ‘I like the sheer looks of it; there is nothing out there in comparison’.
When out and about in Tamworth, the Thorn Esprit inevitably causes somewhat of a stir – ‘I do generally receive a reaction although I daren’t leave it about. My V8 is basically a “High days and holidays car” and I have noticed that young people do react very positively to it; perhaps this is because of the styling because to them it does not look like “an old car”’.
Regarding condition, ‘the Lotus was almost as you see it now when I bought it, and all I had to do was get the wheels refurbished. I’ve had no problem with parts so far, and the Esprit is ok to get in and out of. One detail I would change is the gearchange, which is not exactly smooth but the later models are better in that respect. If you are looking for a V8, join an owners’ club, try to make sure the Lotus has been looked after and that it has been regularly driven rather than stood for ages’.
Richard finds the experience of taking the Lotus on the road ‘incredible!’ and believes that it should be a legal requirement ‘to drive with the window down’ just so you can appreciate the sound of that engine. He has previously guested on the Pride of Ownership display at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show - ‘it is a great place to get bits and pieces and to meet other owners and other enthusiasts’.
This year Richard will be at the stand of the Club Lotus Staffordshire branch, and the chance to see his quite incredible Esprit V8 is yet another reason to visit the NEC from the 9th - 11th November. Just try not to ask Mr. Thorn a question that he has previously encountered – ‘does it go in water?” - but I don’t think they were being serious!’.