Finished in Calypso Red (A23), the fiberglass body on today’s 1991 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE looks to be in the kind of excellent condition you would expect of a low-mileage exotic that has been babied, garaged, and covered throughout its life.
Highlights include pop-up headlights, integrated fog lamps, the ducted front air dam that was part of the SE or Special Equipment model, mesh grilles front and rear, as well as a beautiful rear spoiler and single polished exhaust outlet.
This car has its original removable color-matched roof panel with storage bag and wind deflector. As seen in the gallery, with the top removed, the seal appears to be in very good, pliable condition.
Other notable exterior elements include the large mono-wiper, Morris Marina door handles, side skirt air intakes, and Lotus Design fender badges. The logo in those badges are the initials of the full name of the company’s founder – Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.
Black plastic trim on the heated side mirrors and door handles is in good shape, while the lower front lip shows signs of wear. As noted in the gallery, the front air dam shows rock chips and other imperfections as well as a small crack on the right side.
A color-correct paint touch-up kit will be included in the sale. Per the owner, there is no rust present and no history of paint or bodywork. Per the clean Carfax, there is also no history of any accidents.
The seller rebuilt the left headlight motor with Delrin gears upon purchase two years ago as it would not raise properly.
Original staggered-width Lotus-designed O.Z. Ruote alloys are retained. They have an overall good finish with minor scuffing and surface marks documented. They also have a certain quality common to sports cars of the era – that being a substantial, solid look that is enhanced with the deeper-dish rear wheels.
Kumho Ecsta rubber with 2017 date codes is fitted all around, sized 205/50-15 up front and 245/50-16 out back. They frame disc brakes at all corners.
Looking through the gallery, you will find clean taillight lenses and consistent door panel gaps on both sides. Underbody panels are also removed to show the components beneath, all of which appear to be in excellent condition with no obvious leaks.
Wrapped in Gold
The cabin is wrapped in Gold leather on the seats, center console, doors, dashboard, and boots for the shifter and e-brake lever. As documented in the gallery, all surfaces look to be immaculate and given the color, any imperfections would immediately jump out. Aside from minor sagging on the door panels, all leather looks to be tightly fitted.
Front buckets are in very good condition with minor wear commensurate with the age of the car. The color extends to the carpets and floor mats, which is contrasted by black on the upper dashboard and leather-wrapped four spoke steering wheel.
It frames a set of seven VDO dials sitting in a Burl Elm panel that shows no apparent delamination or peeling. The gauges include oil temperature, oil pressure, a 7,300-rpm tachometer, boost pressure, 170-mph speedometer, fuel level, and coolant temperature. The inset odometer reads 31,960 miles.
And how about the cigarette lighters and ashtrays on both doors?! Something you certainly don’t see anymore. Switchgear on those doors, and throughout the cabin, are all in very good condition. The car features power windows, locks, and side mirror adjustment.
A Kenwood head unit with CD player is fitted about the HVAC controls. Per the owner, the air-conditioning has blown cold for most of the past two years but not at the moment. He suspects a recharge is required. Other amenities include a heated rear window, digital clock in the gauge cluster, and locking glove box.
The front boot is tidy and retains the original spare wheel with Goodyear rubber and roll of jacking tools. Out back, a clean cargo area, that contains the battery, is documented.
120 Horsepower Per Liter
Mounted behind the cabin is the original turbocharged 2.2L Type 910 inline-four mated to a five-speed transaxle. This 16-valve DOHC mill features multi-point fuel injection and an air-to-water intercooler, which Lotus dubbed the “Chargecooler”. This is highlighted in the well-maintained engine bay shown in the gallery.
Making 264 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque when new, these engines run on up to 12.4 psi of boost but came from the factory with a brief overboost function. Per the manufacturer, the Esprit Turbo SE could sprint to 60 in 4.7 seconds.
The seller will provide decades of service records with the sale and notes that at least two of the previous California-based owners had maintenance work performed by Barry Spencer, a leading US-based Lotus technician.
Under current ownership, all service was handled personally by the owner, including an engine and differential oil change, and spark plug replacement at 29,400 miles. At the time, he also performed a full inspection associated with factory A Service, except for lubing the wheel hub spigots and topping off the windshield washer fluid as he does not use it.
The car will be due for a C Service at 36,000 miles, which is to include a new timing belt. Modifications are limited to a removed catalytic converter and installation of a performance muffler and aftermarket blow-off valve. All factory equipment, including the catalytic converter and intake plenum housing will be included with the sale.
Upon purchase two years ago, the seller discovered a leak in the right rear shock. As a result, he installed new dampers and springs at all four corners that were sourced from Geoff at Esprit Engineering in the UK.
Additionally, he replaced the left rear axle seal, after finding a leak, approximately 1,000 miles ago. A second replacement seal and the special Lotus installation tool for the right rear axle will be included in the sale.
The extensive service records and thorough detailing of work completed by the seller illustrate the meticulous care this Esprit Turbo SE has received under current ownership.
Calypso Red Rarity
Located in Auburn, California, this 1991 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE has been with the current owner for the past two years, during which 3,000 of the original 31,960 miles have been added.
Originally delivered to Chasisson Motor Cars in Savannah, Georgia, this Lotus comes with a clean Carfax, clean Montana title, two sets of keys, a cover, specification sheet, and the original window sticker showing a sale price of $87,995.
It also comes with an original and brand-new Lotus Certificate of Provenance that notes this particular color combination of Calypso Red and Gold leather was one of just 19 built this way in 1991. Considering only 125 of these cars were built that year – worldwide – per LotusEspritWorld.com, this is one seriously rare beast.