A bit of history...
No, not the history of the Esprit, that's been done before! I mean, how did I end up with one?
Well, back in the mists of time, I and several friends were sat in a pub, as you do, wittering on about the cars that we would have 'someday'. Two or three of us mentioned the Esprit, but the nearest anyone got was a '75 Elite. Years passed and I 'got into' TVRs. As my 40th birthday rapidly approached another meeting in a pub resurrected the Esprit idea, and it occurred to me that I might actually be in a position to do something about it.
I pondered for a while, and decided I didn't want to do what the 'experts' tell you and buy the best car you can, because I already had one sports car and didn't want another load of debt and upkeep. Also, the Esprit wouldn't be able to sleep in the garage as the TVR takes up most of the space and tools, lathes etc. take up the rest! So, no point in buying a tidy example, as it may not stay that way. In addition, for some perverse reason I seem to get a kick out of pulling things to bits and fixing them, so where's the fun in a car that isn't broken? ;)
I set about the search for a scruffy Esprit. A 'wanted' ad. on the Pistonheads website elicited an email from a guy in Marlborough, claiming to have three sheds full of Esprits. He emailed me some pictures so I hired a trailer and set off for Wiltshire.
Sure enough there were about 5 Esprits, ranging from a Series 2 JPS in kit form to a tidy silver Series 3 that would have been perfect if only I didn't already have an expensive sports car :) I settled for the black Series 3 that you see on this site. With 87000 miles and a dozen (mostly uncaring) owners from new it fitted the bill a treat. We connected a battery but all we got was the warning lights on the dash - no fuel pump, no starter solenoid click, nothing. I pondered the wisdom of buying a car- especially an Esprit - that I hadn't heard running, but decided to go for it anyway! Money changed hands and the car was winched onto the trailer for the long drive north.
When I got the car home, it only required about 30 minutes work to get it running. I borrowed the battery from the TVR and turned the key. Nothing, so I got a multimeter on the starter solenoid and proved it was getting a supply from the switch. I clouted the starter repeatedly with a small hammer, turning the key every few blows, until suddenly it engaged and the engine churned over but wouldn't fire. With no fuel pump running, and having been stood for a while, it was hardly surprising; sure enough I took the tops off the carb. float chambers and found them dry. Frustratingly, my spare fuel can was empty, so a quick trip to the petrol station ensued, the carbs were filled up and the key turned. After a short spell of sluggish turning, the engine caught and, as they say, burst into life. Relief! Next I jacked the rear up so I could wriggle underneath and checked for supply at the fuel pump. The pump was getting a feed alright but not making the usual SU ticking sound. Gentle application of the 'uncalibrated tapometer' followed, interspersed with touching the 12v supply wire on the terminal. Eventually there was a click. Then another, then a series of clicks. Next thing, there was a prominent smell of petrol. What the hell...? Then I realised I'd left the fuel pipe off the carbs! The pipe was reinstalled and the key turned. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick... nothing. Oh yeah, it stops ticking when the carbs are full. Ahem. :-DPull the choke, turn the key, whirr-whirr-whirr-whirr-VROOM! Wahey, it lives! Quick, what's the oil pressure gauge say? Is the battery charging? Is anything leaking? Amazingly, I thought, considering the car had been stood for 18 months, it all went rather well.
I spent a happy evening or two compiling a list of defects and tasks that ranged from setting the clock to rebuilding the suspension. I knew that the car wouldn't pass an MOT test with the faults I could find quite easily and I wasn't about to insult my mate Big John by turning up with the Esprit in that condition. I discovered the SJ Sportscars website. An absolute goldmine of a supplier with almost every component you could possibly need to fix your Esprit. Straight off I needed a trunnion and a balljoint, but it seemed to make sense, especially given how inexpensive some of the parts are, to do the job properly, so I ordered balljoints, front wheel bearings, trunnions, bushes for the anti-roll bar and lower levers and so on. As I worked my way round the car I found several items that needed replacement, but luckily it had good tyres, unlike a couple of the others I'd seen!
I bought the Esprit in February 2004, but it was mid-May before I got an MOT and June before I could get out and drive the car. If you're interested, you can follow the links below to see some of the jobs I tackled; disproving, I hope, the myth that the Esprit is not a car for the 'home mechanic'. I owned A874 RYY for a little over two years before selling it (frankly, as good as it was, it lacked something of the sense of occasion that a TVR wedge provides) to a lad who was still at University. He had it for a few years and then sold it to a guy in Northern Ireland whose father ran some sort of garage and they stripped it back to a bare shell and resprayed the car red; I think it then acquired a Northern Ireland registration. Last time I checked, it showed up on the DVLA website as having an export marker, and a bit of digging on Lotus forums has me thinking that it's now in Scandinavia somewhere...!