Another Year for the Esprit Fact File

It seems amazing to me that the Esprit Fact File is now more than 12 years old. This means it is almost as old as the World Wide Web itself! Back when I first started doing research prior to buying my first Esprit in 1995, I realized that comprehensive sources for information on these cars was in short supply. This was mainly due to the fact that the Esprit is a very limited production vehicle. Porsche makes approximately twice as many 911's in one year as Lotus built Esprits during its entire 28 year production. This meant that books on Esprits were rare and the information in them was often impractical, dated, or just plain wrong. Online information back then was even more limited. Most of the world was just then starting to learn about the Internet and it seemed the Esprit wasn't the first topic that people were jumping to write about. It was my goal to change all of that and the Esprit Fact File was how I intended to do it. It was my goal to create an online repository of information for owners and fans alike. 

Throughout the past few years, the content of the Fact File has continued to grow thanks to the many contributions of other Lotus nuts such as myself. I constantly get emails from people in all corners of the globe including Asia, Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and the Caribbean. People constantly send me information that they have discovered or suggestions for new topics to include. Thanks to them, I have had the opportunity to learn more about these cars than I ever dreamed possible and have become an unwilling "guru" in the eyes of other aficionados. As time goes by, the Fact File has been reviewed in several magazines and has even become the recipient of several Editors Choice awards. I was honored to find out that Lotus Cars USA itself not only uses the Esprit Fact File as a source of information, but often refers customers to me or to this web site. It was also neat to see a new generation of Esprit owners use language and terms (like "Red Hose Syndrome" or "Sad Cow Horn Disease") that I had invented. However, the best part of working on this Fact File has been that I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful Lotus owners and develop friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Why An Esprit Fact File

I fell in love with the Esprit the first time I saw it in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. When I saw that cool, white, angular beauty turn into a submarine, I remember telling myself, "I'm going to own one of those cars one day!" It's amazing how effective that little bit of marketing was for an entire generation. I have heard from countless other Esprit owners who claim that those movies became the reason for their purchase of an Esprit in their adult life.  I don't think Lotus realized at the time that their marketing investment would have such a huge payoff 15 to 20 years later. Growing up, the feeling of destiny got reaffirmed every (rare) time I saw an Esprit on the road, in a parking lot, or (more often) in the pages of the
Dupont Registry. It was in this magazine that I first became aware that used Esprits were about half the price of other supercars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Granted, half of a huge sum of money, is still a lot of money; but at least it seemed that my dream was attainable.

Then one day in 1995, on my way back from my health club, I saw a Monaco White Esprit Turbo SE parked in front of, believe it or not, a truck dealership. It turns out it was the personal car of Charlie Kolb, longtime racecar driver and owner of the dealership. He originally bought the car from an auction but was thinking of selling it because his wife didn't think it was a practical car and she preferred to ride in his 300ZX. Additionally, Charlie was 6'5", and 72 years old and wanted something with a little more head room.

The car looked like it needed a little TLC, but I didn't care. After test driving it I was convinced that this baby would soon be mine. I logged onto America Online and searched all users that mentioned Esprits on their personal profiles. I sent them all an email asking them common questions about reliability, use as a daily driver, maintenance costs, repair shops, parts availability, oil filters, and things like: "how do you open the darn hood?".

What I found was a hidden underground support network for people with the same passion (disease) for the Esprit as I had. They directed me to a place on the Internet called the Lotus Mailing List. If you subscribed to this list (for free), any email that you posted to a common address got broadcast to all other subscribers. The list serves as a forum for discussion as well as a great source for the collective knowledge of all who belong to it.

After buying my first Esprit, I read and posted emails on the list often. I found myself gradually shifting from only asking questions, to actually answering quite a few as well. As membership of the Lotus List grew, I got to meet many other individuals who were contemplating buying an Esprit or had just recently done so. Many of these people were going through many early phases that I had encountered and were asking the same questions. It is for these people that this Fact File is intended. For you veteran Lotus owners out there, hopefully, you might learn something too.

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