1976 to 1978MY
Although the Esprit was officially release in the fall of 1975 as a 1976MY car, it made its debut as a concept car at the Turin Auto Show in November 1972 where it was met with great enthusiasm. The body was a design study by automobile design genius Giorgetto (Giorgio) Giugiaro which he wanted to name the "Kiwi". Apparently, he did not know that in other markets, this was not only a fruit, but the name of a brand of shoe polish!
Ever since the Lotus Eleven, Lotus had started the practice of naming their cars starting with the letter "E". Senior personnel were sent home for the weekend with the task of coming up with a name for the new car. The majority consensus was for the name Esprit, which according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary meant: "sprightliness, wit, Esprit de corps, regard for honor and interests of body one belongs to".
The car did not go into production until 1975 and continued until 1978 by which time 714 examples had been built. During part of its production run, Lotus experimented with applying the final color in the mold so that the cars only needed a light polishing to meet showroom standards. The advantage was that the color was through the body so chips never showed. Only cars in white, yellow, red, orange, and blue were made with this process. However, the process was expensive and Lotus soon returned to conventional paint-spraying techniques.
The slogan for the Esprit's brochure at its introduction was:
"The no-compromise Lotus for its driver and one selected companion"
But the brochure did nothing for the marketing of the Esprit as what was to follow. In late 1975, Lotus partnered with Pinewood Studios and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and agreed to provide two Esprit S1 road cars and 5 bodyshells for the production of the James Bond classic: The Spy who Loved Me. From this moment on, the Esprit's future was sealed as it became the dream and goal of many of today's Esprit owners.
Lotus Esprit S1 Specification
Lotus 907 1973 cc four-cylinder in-line, 16-valve DOHC, two Dell’Orto twin-choke carburetors.
USA Market Engine: CR 8.4:1. 2 Zenith-Stromberg CD single-choke carburetors.
Power and Torque
160bhp @ 6200rpm (USA Market 140 bhp at 6,500rpm)
140lb ft @ 4900rpm (USA Market 130 lb.ft at 5,000rprn)
Glassfiber-reinforced plastic (GRP) body with steel backbone chassis.
Passenger cabin encapsulated in a safety-cell structure.
Citroen 5-speed all Sychromesh
Borg and Beck single disc plate 8.5in dia, hydraulically operated.
Front: 9.7in discs
Rear 10.6in inboard discs
Direct acting servo
Castor: 3 to 3.5 degrees
Kingpin: 9 degrees.
Front: Independent double wishbones with coil springs and telescopic dampers. Front anti-roll bar
Rear: Independent semi-trailing beam crosslink, fixed-length shaft with coil springs and telescopic dampers.
Cast aluminum alloy
Front: 6J x 14
Rear: 7J x 14
Dunlop radial ply tubeless
Front: 195/70 HR14
Rear: 205/70 HR14
2,601 lbs (1,185 kg)
Top speed: 124mph
0-60mph: 8.4 sec
Consumption: 23.3 mpg.
Tank capacity: 15 gallons
Range: 450 miles
£7883 including taxes.