Live Auctions

Finest Claret! 1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo

This gorgeous wedge is a 1988 Lotus Esprit SE Turbo in a rare color: Claret Red. It’s up for sale here on eBay, where bidding is up to $10,000 but has not yet met the reserve. It’s located in Lenoir City, Tennessee.

The seller states that there were only eight Esprits produced in this color. It sure does look nice! It’s been garaged for over 21 years and is showing only 43,000 miles. Unfortunately, there’s a little problem. While it does run, it has some type of misfire preventing the Lotus from living up to its speedy looks.

The Esprit has been treated to new tires, a new clutch (quite a job, I hear), and other new components such as newly upgraded fuel pumps, filters, fuel distributor, injectors, plugs, timing belt, and an oxygen sensor. Based on that list, I’m guessing the seller has been unsuccessfully chasing the misfire.

This is the only interior shot; while there’s nothing bad that I can see here, Esprits are known for early interior wear so a closer look might be warranted. That being said, we are talking near-supercar for what might end up being used Camry money!

Here’s the 2.2-liter turbo four-cylinder, which when new produced 215 horsepower, which at the time was quite comparable with a Ferrari 328’s 260 (the Ferrari weighed 2805 pounds versus 2690 for the Lotus). While it’s true that getting a Lotus worked on isn’t inexpensive, it doesn’t require a Ferrari budget either. And few cars will get you more looks than this Claret Esprit! Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you are feeling lucky — can you or your mechanic successfully diagnose the misfire, or will the Esprit become a semi-permanent resident of your garage? Let us know what you think in the comments!


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car. There are tons of little reasons for misfires and over the years I’ve had my share. Last one was a brand new NGK spark plug in the race car that did not fire all the time. Never found out why but sure did a lot of searching before figuring out what it was.

    Like 6
    • Ike Onick

      So what was it?

      Like 4
  2. BeeMoe

    I had the same issue with my SRT6. Spent month chasing a misfire and it turned out the last mechanic used the wrong spark plugs when he did a tune up.

    Like 4
  3. BA

    I know this will garner some groans from the bleachers & maybe a tomato or 2 thrown my way but a hellcrate motor in there would for sure put supercar power in this esprit! As a last option! just in case the timing chain or belt was not done to TDC just saying !

    Like 7
    • GSM

      I was thinking a crate 4 cylinder ecoboost, to keep things on the lighter side…no idea if it would fit though…

      Like 6
  4. Jett

    I’ve always loved the Esprit, especially the later models, and that car would be more than welcome to come home with me. If I could afford it, and if I wasn’t 6’4…

    Like 5
  5. Raymond

    Maybe let Special John play with it…

    Like 3
  6. GSM

    I was thinking a crate 4 cylinder ecoboost, to keep things on the lighter side…no idea if it would fit though…

    Like 3
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Ike Onick…Like it says, defective spark plug, or partially defective.

    Like 3
  8. Robert Baime

    Check timing belt. May have missed a cog. Check firing order.

    Like 2
  9. Winterhawk

    Please stop with the engine swaps! I’ve owned for 4 Lotus and always wanted an Esprit and I’ve never seen one in this colo(u)r. Just sold a car on BaT, and this so tempting, but I just don’t buy cars without seeing them in person and this is too far away.

    Like 3
  10. fran

    9 pics of the back?

  11. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I’ve always loved these Esprits. It’s bid up to $15,100 presently, still a good price. I’m guessing reserve is around $20K, also a reasonable price. When I look at the engine compartment, is there something missing? On each side there is a quad tube connected to the suspension structure. Each has 2 holes and it looks like the marks of something that would have been attached to them….perhaps a cross-brace for lateral stability? When doing the clutch, you’d need to remove it, I’d assume. Also note the inboard brakes. I just did my 90 XJS inboard calipers and handbrake calipers. Took me a week with a lift :-)

    Like 1
  12. Howie Mueler

    $15,100 now, but reserve still not met. I see it is at a shop now, take it to a place that knows these cars well.

    Like 2
  13. John Walsh

    Having restored several of these, they are not nearly as bad to work on ass many think. The secret with Lotus, is like any car. Good maintenance. Unfortunately, the value of these plummeted for several years meaning people could buy them who had Champaign ideas and lemonade budgets, so sadly many were poorly looked after. Now these are coming to classic status and more people recognise them for the supercar they are and issues left by former owners is having to be sorted out. A well maintained Lotus of any model is as good as any car. This side of the pond this beaut would be around the 20/22k mark, and will only go upwards. Buy it.

  14. Alan Burt

    Hey folks, here’s an update! I ended up winning the auction. After one of the oddest shipping delays (it was supposed to arrive by Christmas, but it didn’t show up until NYE! Turns out two of the trucks it was on broke down between Lenoir and Seattle where I am!). Yeah basically it was DOA. Not being a true mechanic, my plan was to send it out to one of the shops to get it sorted. But fortune shined upon me – I went to a shop tour of one of our local Lotus club members, and re-connected with a mechanic who used to work on Esprits and said he would come by and take a look! He came by and we actually started it up but alas it would not stay running. So had it towed to a shop where he could work on it and indeed after getting some of the CIS system cleaned up, and further troubleshooting, it turned out it wasn’t getting enough spark. So now it’s got a new distributer and other ignition stuff and stays running! Next are a few things to sort with the transmission and the steering rack, and the body needs a little TLC. But the good news is that it’ll be drivable by the summer!

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