High-spirited 1990 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE, an affordable exotic sports car

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Lotus
The Lotus Esprit was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro

After going bleary-eyed from all the million-dollar exotics spotted during Monterey Car Week, I was relieved to encounter this fine piece of British artistry offered at a fairly reasonable price.

The Pick of the Day is a 1990 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE coupe, black on black, said to be a one-owner car driven only 14,965 miles.  Quite a find, really, for the many fans of this esteemed British marque.

Lotus

Powered by one of Lotus’s sweet 2.2-liter inline-4 engines, turbocharged to achieve 264 horsepower, or 280 on “overboost,” the sleek fiberglass wedge can do zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph, according to the Farmington, New York, dealer advertising the Lotus on ClassicCars.com.

The mid-engine Esprit is quite an exciting car, one of which I enjoyed for a weeklong new-car road test back in the day, with sparkling acceleration and exceptional handling.  It compared quite well with the more-famous Italian exotic sports cars at the time, and I hated to give it back.

Lotus

“This is a local car that has covered only 14,965 miles in the hands of one owner,” the seller says in the ad. “It has a clean Carfax and it looks and drives like a nearly new car.”

The styling was done by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italy, whose Silver Car concept was first shown in 1972.  The Lotus Esprit debuted in 1976 and remained in production through 2004.

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Presented in as-new condition, the Lotus is equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, air-conditioning, power windows and door locks, removable roof panel, “Glassback” tailgate with rear wing, AM/FM/CD audio system and Lotus Seven spoke wheels.

Lotus

“The Esprit is a thrill to drive and is still a great value compared to its contemporary German and Italian rivals,” the seller notes.

The very-low-mileage, one-owner Esprit is priced at $39,900, even though it looks like a million bucks.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. And in the US anyway, these Loti are da**ed rare. Out & about, I see Porsches, Ferraris, and Lambos, as well as some oddball M-series BMW’s and even right hand drive JDM Skylines of various generations, often on a weekly basis.
    Can’t remember the last time I saw a Turbo Esprit on the road. Know of an early Elise in the area (Fargo ND), and saw an Evora on my last trip to Minneapolis/St.Paul; just don’t see these beautiful Esprits anymore.
    And James Bond had one that could be a submarine!
    Cool enough for JB007, too cool for the rest of us. They make a nice noise on the pedal, too, btw.

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