This 2002 Lotus Esprit V8 Could Be the Affordable Exotic You've Been Waiting For
It may not be the Evija, but it's certainly cool
Lotus is planning one of the world's most extreme electric cars with the Evija. It's definitely impressive, but something about the heavy, battery-powered hypercar feels un-Lotus-like—especially once you cast your eyes on this lithe, yellow beauty: a 2002 Lotus Esprit that's for sale this week at Barrett-Jackson's Las Vegas auction. Many of the Ferraris and Porsches featured this weekend might be unattainable for the average enthusiast, with prices of collectible 911s continuing to soar, but this Esprit could be the affordable exotic you've been waiting for.
This 2002 V8 was one of the last cars to roll off the production line in Hethel, England, as the Esprit was discontinued in 2004 after a run of almost 30 years. This late-model coupe sports a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 mounted midship that makes 355 horsepower and comes mated to a five-speed manual. The example heading to auction has 26,036 miles on the clock and comes with service records, the original owner's manual, and a spare key. It's also got a few upgrades such as Wilwood brakes, JAW high-flow catalytic converters, and a new stereo. With its retro-futuristic wedge shape, the Esprit is definitely a head-turner and wouldn't be out of place parked next to Lamborghini Countachs and Ferrari Testarossas at a Cars and Coffee.
With Lotus currently moving toward electrification and, consequently, heft, this Esprit makes us nostalgic for the days when Collin Chapman's philosophy of prioritizing lightness and stripping away complication was still gospel in Hethel. Though the Esprit S4 is nowhere near as light or as simplified as Chapman's original featherweight Lotus Seven, it still only weighs about 3,100 pounds, or over 600 pounds less than the lightest-specification Evija is slated to weigh. Then again, the Evija also makes a reality-warping 1,972 hp from its four electric motors. OK, maybe adding lightness is relative.
Fans of Top Gear will recall James May drove an Esprit during the show's Patagonia Special in 2015, where it proved to be the most reliable car on that trip. If that's not a strong enough endorsement, cinephiles should fondly remember Roger Moore behind the wheel of a Giugiaro-penned Esprit S1 in The Spy Who Loved Me. Sure, this car is a much later Esprit and (probably) won't double as a submarine, but it's still a hell of a sports car.
The 12th annual Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas sale roars into Sin City with more than 650 collector cars October 3-5, 2019, at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort. Every lot this year will be offered with no reserve, so you can expect excitement to be high as both bidders and sellers roll the dice on some of the world's finest collector cars. The experts from MotorTrend will be there to bring you all the action LIVE from the auction block, so be sure to download the app for exclusive, live coverage!
A version of this story originally appeared on MotorTrend.