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Lotus Esprit S4

Lotus Esprit S4 Published: 1st Feb 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Esprit S4
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Known as the “Peter Stevens Esprit”, with the possible exception of the Elise/Exige it’s one of the best Lotuses of them all; a brilliant driver’s car that’s comprehensively superior to the original, and a car that can compete with any rival Ferrari or Porsche for supercar status.


Chalk and cheese is the best way to describe the ‘Stevens cars’ from the original ones, even though the old S3 had got it right. Being a Lotus, it goes without saying that as a driver’s car it is second to none; however, the general view is that these later cars – which featured a much better and stiffer chassis – are not only blindingly quick around corners but are also safer and more forgiving when the high limit is reached. “You don’t sit in an Esprit, you wear it” remarked one road tester but, at 6’2’’ wide, you might think twice about exactly where you wear it! Monthly Car magazine said the Lotus was “More fun than a Ferrari”,


The Stevens supercar (although initially it was essentially a reskin of the S3 until the Julian Thompson redesign of 1993) is a world away from the original Esprit and even more desirable as a result. Unless you unearth a good one, avoid the awesome V8 and go for condition above spec on all models every time. And know your versions, that’s vital! The S4 is one of the best Lotuses ever made and of the likes we’ll never see again from Hethel, making it a surefire supercar classic. The Sport 300 and S4S are two of the best versions but all are generally excellent.


According to leading Lotus light Paul Matty you have to split the ‘softer Stevens’ vehicles from the proper S4 and he feels that the latter, especially the S4S (his favourite) will become a much sought after classic in the future. In terms of value, you can buy a very good S4 car for just about less than an original – say £12,000-£16,000, and expect a ‘Stevens restyle’ to be a bit less, although it’s all down to condition, above anything else.

You probably need £25,000 depending upon spec and condition for a Turbo but the V8s in general do not command higher values than a similar ‘four’, due to the unit’s poor reliability.


Know your Esprits! There’s a real mish-mash of models and spinoffs and it’s easy to buy something that isn’t quite the real thing. Contact a specialist or club if in doubt. Stevens reshell isn’t as good as later S4 even though the cars look virtually identical. They aren’t – but this model is still better than original Esprits. And drive a few as they vary enormously and it’s easy to buy something that isn’t quite the real thing or is out of sorts. A well-cared for Esprit shouldn’t look shabby: inspect for crazing of the bodyshell, but more critically previous accident repairs, bad patch-ups and blotchy paint. See that the headlamps rise and fall properly – a good sign of past ills and always crawl underneath to inspect the chassis for past accidents. Avoid the V8 as it was plagued with issues but the Vauxhall-derived ‘four’ is pretty tough but watch for broken exhausts and turbos.

Suspension and steering geometry settings are critical, especially at the rear – re-shimming the suspension is a day’s job to do properly. The Renault transmission is an improvement over the original Citroën unit but if the transaxle does cry enough, look forward to a repair bill well in excess of a grand.

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