WC Engineering » John's '91 Lotus Esprit SE

"Pretty Much Stock"

I always get comments about my "pretty much stock" 1991 Lotus Esprit SE. I suppose the first thing to explain is the term "pretty much stock" and what it really means. Simply put, the term refers to the weight of the car. If you make any modification to the car that has a negligible effect on the overall weight of the car, then it has no bearing on the "stock" status. I did not create this term, I learned it from several different events. People tend to underplay their hand. It's kind of like poker: never let them know what you have.

Well, here is the info (or at least on what you can see) on my 1991 Lotus Esprit SE.

I purchased the car in October of 1998 after a two-year search. I had wanted an Esprit since I was young and had always had the goal of buying one. In 1996 the V8s came out and I was in a proper financial position to purchase and care for the car. After reviewing the V8 and the 4-cylinder turbo, I decided on getting a 4-cylinder. I felt more attracted to the 4-cylinder cars for many reasons, but mostly because there is such satisfaction in knowing that with only four cylinders, the car can out-perform most larger engines. My other parameters were few: I wanted a 1989-1995 Esprit, less than 30,000 miles, and red or green with a tan or cream interior. I looked at several cars, made contact with several owners about the condition of the cars and why they were selling them. I strayed away from cars that seemed to have excessively long service records and any cars with any type of body damage. I had given up my "summer" search in 1998 figuring I'd have to wait until the spring to find a suitable car.

Sideline Sports Photography

As luck would have it, I then spotted an ad for a 1991 red/tan Esprit for sale in the Chicago area. A quick phone call later and a meeting was set up to see the car. After some research and negotiating we settled on a deal. It turns out that the seller had only owned the car for a few months when he was forced to sell it due to upcoming family issues. Even at the "closing" of the deal, the title still had the original owners name on it. So, on paper I am the third owner, but I feel more like the second due to that short relationship.

The car was in excellent condition with none of the typical signs of abuse. The original owner had added a cellular phone, built-in radar detector (P.O.S.), and some after-market wheels (though the stock wheels came with the car as well).

Sideline Sports Photography
I quickly removed the unneeded electronics and put some fresh rubber on the car (Yokohama A-032's: 245/45/16 front, 315/25/17 rear).

The car was driven quite a bit during the summer of 1999. During this time, the Stage I turbo system was developed. Late in the fall, a judgment error involving water helped to accelerate a cracking exhaust manifold and some various oil leaks needed to be addressed, so the engine and transaxle were pulled and freshened up and the newer exhaust manifold was used. All new seals were put in, valve seats freshened, new clutch, and various other clean up tasks were performed. A leak down test was performed on the engine as it went back in and was below 3% on all cylinders. Performance was better than stock.

Sideline Sports Photography

Summer of 2000 saw a few track events and a few more changes to the car. The need for larger brakes was addressed along with a few other tweaks, like a free flowing exhaust system.

2001 was more of the same. Driving the car around, a few track events, dinners with the "Saturday Night Margarita Club," a few more modifications, and so forth...

2002: The brakes became a real issue and the development of the existing brake kits was started. Due to certain work timeframes, not as much driving of the car was done, and only one track event at Blackhawk Farms with the LOG was attended.

Here are a few photos of John's Lotus to whet your appetite...

Click on the photos to see the larger versions.

© 2009 WC Engineering LLC, Website Design by Adastra Design