The Lotus Esprit (es-pree) is a sports car that was built by Lotus in the United Kingdom between 1976 and 2004, as well as a future release in 2013. The silver Italdesign concept that eventually became the Esprit was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 as a concept car, and was a development of a stretched Lotus Europa chassis. It was among the first of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s polygonal “folded paper” designs. Originally, the name Kiwi was proposed, but in keeping with the Lotus tradition of having all car model names start with the letter “E”, the name became Esprit.
In 1980 the first factory turbocharged Esprit was launched. Initially, this was another special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, this time in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp (157 kW) and 200 lb·ft (270 N·m) of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph (240 km/h).These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15” Compomotive 3-piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment.
45 Essex Esprits were built, followed by a number of non Essex-liveried but otherwise identical specification dry-sump turbo cars. Two Essex-spec Turbo Esprits - one in white and the other in copper - were featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), although these were scripted as the same vehicle; the white one was blown up by an anti-burglar explosion system in Spain, while the red one was a “rebuild” of the original.