Limited volume manufacturers such as Lotus occasionally have monumental turning points. The introduction of the Turbo Esprit in 1983 suddenly provided Lotus enthusiasts with the opportunity to drive a car that was faster than a scalded cat, still had the proverbial glued-to-the-road Lotus handling and was actually reliable.
For $47,984 you could own a car with the ability to sprint from 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, its 2.2-litre, 4 cylinder, dohc and twin Dell'Orto-carbed motor producing 210 bbp. The Bosch K-Jetronic injection introduced in 1986 added ten more horsepower, to 220 bhp, and shaved one second off its 0-60 sprint time. The price crept up to $55,142 (almost $1,000 per horsepower), and the removable sunroof became standard in 1986.
Prior to the Turbo Esprit, the American public had been unduly fed a meal of "rolling prototypes" during the first gestation of the Esprit. In my opinion, the extraordinarily poor build quality of the 1975-80 cars has unfairly prejudiced the public against nearly all Lotus cars.
Built in relatively small numbers, (about 150 units per year), a properly maintained Turbo Esprit is by far cheaper to maintain than a similar year Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche. Part for part, the Lotus is the enthusiast's bargain and in many cases the stronger performer.
Maladies are not uncommon, but most are from previous owner's neglect and not from poor build quality. Be aware of bargain priced replacement parts for they do exist and they are inferior. Spend the extra few dollars by buying a well-cared-for example because they're out there. Be patient while looking and let the rough cars rot.
Consult a specialist, and look for the following when buying a Lotus Esprit Turbo: renewed timing belt (25K intervals), smooth shifting into reverse and second gear (pilot bearings notoriously fail from non-use and improper storage), bent rims (replacements are rare), hollow catalytic converters and missing air pump equipment. The leather interior is susceptible to abuse and is a good telltale for the overall manner in which the car has been looked after.
Hook yourself up with the owner's club, find a cared-for example and have fun driving in the rain. Fiberglass doesn't rust.

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