Crispy John Player Special: 1978 Lotus Esprit S2

Where do you even begin with a car like this? Yet another entry from the salvage yard of vintage wrecked exotics, this 1978 Lotus Esprit is a desirable World Championship Commemorative Model, more affectionately known as a John Player Special. Yes, it burned almost to the ground, with its wheels, nose, and lower quarters the only recognizable parts of the wedge-nosed Lotus supercar. Find it here on eBay with an $8,500 Buy-It-Now.

While I applaud this organization for saving all of the desirable sports cars of the world when others would have sent them to the shredder, even this one is a bit of a stretch for me. I’m not sure what you’re going to use, other than the VIN plate in another project and possibly the engine if it’s not completely melted inside – and this must’ve been a major blaze.

The seller says it has a “…solid chassis and undercarriage,” so you have that going for you. I can’t find a firm production number for the John Player Special cars, but it seems like no more than a few hundred were made (only 100 for the UK market, so figure that number or less for the U.S.) Perhaps someone looking for a genuine JPS would swap the bodywork with another car?

The JPS cars came with black leather with gold corduroy inserts, all long gone by now, along with the special dash badge showing where the Esprit fell in the production line. The special three-spoke Momo steering wheel is also a distant memory as well. Is the Esprit Commemorative Model rare enough that this toasted example should find a way back to road use?


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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    Well it looks like you might be able to save the wheels. There might be a chance for the engine ( big maybe here ) same goes for the transmission. I’d strip what I could to really and scrap the rest.

    Like 2
    • Ike Onick

      Expensive set of wheels.

      Like 2
  2. RedBaran

    The seller of these POS’s is on crack…

    Like 27
  3. sir mike

    You are kidding right??? Must be a Calif.thing.

    Like 5
  4. M.Balmer Member

    First of all, I am a subscriber to this site and have commented on various vehicles that have appeared, but, what I don’t understand is why Barnfinds keeps showing these burned out wrecks!? I know the VIN may be salvaged, but, in no way is something like this “restorable” to the average guy.Sorry for being a downer, but,shouldn’t we be focusing on “real” barn finds instead of unrestorable junk?

    Like 52
    • JOHN Member

      If you look at this guy’s other items for sale you quickly realize there must be more people with money than brains… but it is apparently working for the seller! He also has 100% feedback. I kinda enjoy looking at stuff like this and just shake my head that there is a buyer for anything these days.

      Like 8
      • kakerlak

        I keep saying it, but this seller is pretty fascinating. This car was totaled over 35 years ago, which seems pretty typical of their offerings. What’s the story on this place? Why did they accumulate such a huge inventory of sometimes beyond salvage (I mean, virtually no usable parts, sometimes) exotics so long ago and sit on them for so long? Even if the acquisition cost was next to nothing, at the scale we’re talking about, 3-4 decades of storage isn’t free. What’s the day-to-day source of income for the business? Is this a front? Eccentric millionaire?

        Like 2
      • redwagon

        this is an auto salvage place in California that specializes in wrecked exotics. I cannot imagine that someone will restore this vehicle but for $6,000 it may have the parts you need at a price that is ….. well …. high but the convenience of getting the parts you need all in one place has a value too.

        you are absolutely correct in that the prices for some of the ‘parts’ they sell are just nuts. For example, this drivers seat from a Porsche 356A or 356B for $795. Seriously???

        Like 1
      • Barney

        I’m not trying to say anything bad about the seller but just in general 100% feed back on e-bay means nothing. E-bay won’t let you leave anything else.

        Like 4
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      These went through a few iterations.

      This was the first, then came the turbo, and finally the V8.

      Buying a car that’s the lowest on the totem pole value wise, and then having this as a starting point, and no historical racing value.

      There is no way to anything but upside down when finished.

      And I’ve taken on some questionable ones.

    • Roy L

      Space fillers, that is why.

      Like 1
  5. Marty Reardon

    Is there hidden treasure in the ashes? What’s the point here? Barnfinds will post anything for a fee even this scrap and there isn’t even good scrap. The reader said it best when he said the seller is on crack.

    Like 14
  6. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Experience with burners for over 50 years..the heat rises…
    The backbone chassis and drivetrain are likely salvageable… but for sure sitting since 1983 would be the major concern. But these 907 2.0L engines are common

    $8500 is a stretch, tho, because.. these cars handle nice, but are anemic, and decent ones are not expensive…

    here’s one with only 22k miles that JUST SOLD for a bit under 20k

    in the 4500$ range, it would be a good gamble..strip the body, and install a mid-engine LaBoa body

    Like 2
  7. Dave at OldSchool Restorations


    ALL of the Lotus Elites, Eclats, and Esprits in that year had the ” World Championship” tag on the rear …….. and all were underpowered.

    Like 3
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      This one had more than a badge. Signed steering wheel, plaque and the livery and was a limited edition.

      • Dave at OldSchool

        , yes… I know what a JP Edition is, and that is relatively important. … … I was referring to the “World Championship” as just being HYPE, and not an indication of power, in regards to this car, … same actually applies for the JP…it’s just window dressing option.

        Like 1
  8. Randy

    My 76 Elite had the same tag. It also went in the mess to the wrecker yard after the fire in the engine bay. The 2 liter 907 seemed to be prone to fires.
    This one is a mess and not much value. Dave from Old School knows these cars as well as anyone.

    Like 1
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      .. I don’t know about this one, but the carbs are right over the horizontal distributor on these engines, so i can imagine fuel getting through the cap to distributor seam.

      Additionally, the distributor is difficult to get to , to set points, time, etc

  9. Gray Wolf

    Maybe an encased car like this at a Wood Fired Pizza or a BBQ joint??LOL!!

  10. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I used to own number 44 of these years ago.
    Wish I had kept it.
    This is insane.
    It’s $1,500 worth.

    Like 1
  11. Barry Traylor

    This gem almost made me choke on my morning coffee from laughing.

    Like 1
  12. Chris in Pineville

    Barney above is right.
    long ago in a galaxy far away, eBay feedback was a meaningful tool.
    when the feedback rules changed. it became totally useless.

    Like 2
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      Chris, that is not true for buyers… A buyer can still leave Negative Feedback

      What ebay has killed, is the abiltity to leave a non-payer bad feedback……..and that sucks.

  13. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Negatives can be left for sellers on eBay.
    It’s sellers who are not protected anymore since they stopped sellers leaving feedback for dodgy buyers.

  14. bobhess bobhess Member

    BIN way too high but if you are rebuilding one of these and don’t have all the suspension or frame parts it could be of some value. Parts for rare cars are getting even rarer. Little things like front and rear hubs are tough to find even on our Sprite race cars. No hubs being reproduced so it’s a continual hunt for used ones.

  15. Bob

    Often see listings from this seller that are so far gone. I think they are just selling what appear to be desirable VIN numbers

    Like 2
  16. Chris

    It’s not that bad!! Pretty sure you could buff it out……

  17. Rick

    I feel that this car is exactly where it should be.

    Like 1
  18. Dave Tacher

    That’s nothing but a pile of junk

  19. bobhess bobhess Member

    Don’t doubt that one bit Bob. Too bad it’s gotten to that. Like the man said, mostly junk.

  20. Del

    As Arne Johnson would say :

    Very Interesting


  21. TimM

    The way I see it this is good for one thing and one thing only!!! Set it in your yard put firewood in there start it up and roast some marshmallows!!!! Might keep the fire from spreading since there’s nothing left!!!

  22. bigdoc

    $8500.00 for what a bunch of melted cr*p

  23. Charles Moorehead

    Wow $8.50 is to much.
    What a JOKE!!!! A bad one!!!!!

    Like 1
  24. John

    There’s nothing JPS about this. $8.50 is right. A piece of junk.

  25. malsal

    The fire issue with all the Lotus 907 engines in the early days of production was a plastic T piece linking the fuel line to both carbs, they failed on a regular basis usually resulting in a fire and just needed a metal or brass $2.00 T piece replacement.

    • Randy

      I wish that I had known that before I lost my car. The fuel leaks directly on the starter under the air box and before you know what has happened the fire is 3 feet over the engine. Not recoverable.

  26. Tim

    I was more interested by all the old Porsches on the racks in the background!

  27. Bobby Longshot

    You guys have no imagination. This car just needs some duct tape and flex-seal and it would be good as new.

  28. Bobby Longshot

    Might make a good Anti-Smoking campaign car.

  29. Peter

    That will fry out.. God how depressing for the owner!

  30. CJinSD

    If this car was running and driving but needed paint and an interior then it might be worth the asking price.

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