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Lipstick Red Pretty Woman: 1993 Lotus Esprit

In many instances, car buffs remember the cars in movies more than anything else.  Take for example the Bullit Mustang, Bandit’s Trans Am, and Eleanor in “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”  While the silver Lotus Esprit in “Pretty Woman” wasn’t the star of the movie, that seductive shape played an integral role in setting the tone.  If you are looking for a lipstick red version of that drop-dead gorgeous exotic, then have a look at this 1993 1/2 Lotus Esprit for sale here on craigslist in heavenly Hampton, New Hampshire.  At an asking price of $48,500, is this the low mileage exotic you need to go to the polo match?  Thanks go to Pat L. for this exotic tip!

Looking back, it is amazing to see how many movies Hollywood churned out every year during the eighties and nineties.  It is also fascinating to read about how scripts change from the initial writing to the final product.  Pretty Woman was written to be a dark drama and a laundry list of major Hollywood stars auditioned for the main roles.  What finally ended up on the screen proved to be a movie that dominated the box office and made Julia Roberts a major star.

Car buffs saw through all of that romantic mumbo jumbo and focused on the Lotus.  We mainly cried when Richard Gere’s character ground the gears when shifting.  Like Robert’s character Vivian, Lotus’s Esprit underwent a major transformation after its debut in 1976.  The Guigiaro designed original followed the designer’s “folded paper” design philosophy and was quite stunning in comparison to some of Lotus’s other offerings.  The car moved upmarket as time went on, and by the time of the softer edge styling update by British designer Peter Stevens, car magazines had begun calling it an exotic despite it having fewer cylinders and less horsepower than its competition.

The Lotus you see here is on its second owner and has just 28,600 miles on the odometer.  Despite the low mileage, the seller says that the car has been fully sorted and that it has been gone through mechanically.  In Lotus speak, that means that all of the little things have been fixed and/or improved.  Lotus had a reputation for hitting home runs in handling and performance mainly by focusing on cutting edge suspension designs and lightening the weight of the components as much as possible.  Often owners were left with the task of sorting everything out to make them reliable and useable.

The seller has replaced a laundry list of small items.  Parts such as a new vacuum pump, brakes front and rear, and new hatch struts have made the car useable.  The ad shows photos of this Lotus out playing with other European sports cars, and one would be lead to believe that this is a car you could really enjoy on the weekends if there were some twisty roads nearby.  The only flaws are a crack in the lower windshield and a tear in the shift boot.

While this Esprit is not silver like the movie car, the beautiful red paint accents just how gorgeous the car’s lines had become after the restyle.  The evolution of the Esprit, just like Vivian’s transformation to the Pretty Woman of the movie title, brought Lotus into the upper pantheon of sports car makers.  It proved that Lotus could be mentioned in the same sentence as Ferrari and Lamborghini.  Hopefully someone comes along and purchases this beautiful sports car to drive.  Still, you have to admit it would be a good car to just put in the corner of the garage to look at and admire too.

Have any of you ever owned a Lotus?  What was the experience like?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Lotus really had it going with the later versions of this car. Beautiful, and fun to drive.

    Like 11
  2. John Vizzusi

    Best friend has a Lotus Europa back in the 70s. I’ll never forget the sound of 6 webbers. He spun out on a mountain pass and wrecked leaving most of the body in pieces. It litterally exploded. Fast, light and exotic is all I remember.

    Like 2
    • angliagt angliagt

      There’s no way a Europa would run with SIX Webers.
      I think you mean TWO.

      Like 7
  3. Bruce

    I have a Esprit as the same year of the movie and this is very similar but with about 40 HP. More. It is critical to check for any smell of gas as the tanks that came with the car had a foam backing on the bottom. It adsorbed water over time and many of the tanks have rusted with pinhole leaks that are extremely dangerous. Replacement tanks are available but they are both relatively expensive and a total pain in the ass to replace. Having the ability to fill the car from either side is a great plus however.

    I have found mine to be extremely reliable and fun to drive and it attracts as much attention as far more expensive exotic cars due to the simple elegance of the design. It also has the performance for as Mr. Chapman said horsepower makes you faster in a straight line, Lightness makes you faster everywhere. I have found that to be the case.

    Like 9
  4. Howie

    I had a Europa and always wanted one of these. Are those other cars the sellers to show us what he wants to keep?

    Like 3
  5. Stan

    These are absolutely tiny, when you see them in person. Like a 308 ferrari.
    Great looking automobiles.

    Like 0
  6. Murray

    I’d seriously love this car. Had a friend here in Australia who owned a clone of this car. However ringing in my ears is:- LOTUS = Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious

    Like 0
  7. freakinutz

    Back around 1972, I purchased a RHD Lotus Cortina. Mine did not have the Weber head; it had the Stromberg head. I think the previous owner switched heads to put some cash into his pocket. Strombergs or not, it was a hoot to drive. After I got mine, my dad bought one (with a Weber head) and the lifelong love of Cortinas was born. I stupidly sold that car in 74. Now have a Mk2 in the garage.

    Like 0
  8. BobinBend

    Owned a ’93 Esprit for 13 years. Wonderful car, reliable and relatively quick. They have a couple of weak points (Cam belt, early GM ABS system) but once you get to know them they are fabulous cars. Those are the earlier wheels that came on the 89-92 cars. This one should have the Revolutions or the OZ wheels

    Like 0
  9. Michelle Rand Staff

    The interior is more worn than I would expect for the low mileage reported. I always wonder, too, when someone says he is reducing his car collection – why did he pick this particular car to sell?

    Like 0
  10. Tom

    Took six replies to get to the acronym thing. A new record – it’s usually right up at the top :)

    Like 0

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