Wednesday, November 2, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1995 Lotus Esprit S4s

Rounding out '90s Supercar Week is this 1995 Lotus Esprit S4s, an edition I didn't know existed until I saw it parked just around the corner from the 1973 AMC Gremlin I featured during '70s Economy Car Week. I've always been fond of the 1990s Esprits; from most angles they just look "right" to me. I know they're parts bin cars cobbled from other manufacturers' components, and the basic design dates back to the '70s when the Gremlin was still being built and Roger Moore was still James Bond. The Esprit is just a cool sports car.

The Esprit endured for nearly thirty years with surprisingly few redesigns. The most noticeable of which came in 1987 when Peter Stevens gave the car a much-needed update for the coming decade. It now featured taillights from a Toyota Corolla AE86 but otherwise stayed relatively close to Giugiaro's original lines, and improved performance, ergonomics and safety. This design was facelifted in 1993 and called the S4.
The Esprit S4s (the little S stands for Sport) was one of the last Esprits to be built exclusively with a four-cylinder engine. It displaced 2.2 liters but, thanks to numerous modifications and a healthy intercooled turbo, the S4s produced 300 hp and was good for 168 mph. At that kind of speed you need some downforce, so the S4s received a big wing out back from the Esprit 300 Sport. The S4s was built from 1995 to '96.
After 1996, 4-cylinder Esprits were still available, but were upstaged by a new twin-turbo V8 model. The new engine produced more power and had a higher top speed, but also tested the endurance of the Renault-sourced transaxle. The Esprit has been gone since 2004, and I miss it. I'm not wild about Lotus's plans to bring the name back on an all-new car for 2013, but I guess they know better than I do. I wish them well, and I hope the owner of this beautiful '95 Esprit enjoys his or her car for many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Top find Jay always fancied one of those twin turbo V8's but I guess the 4 pot could keep me happy for a while :-)