Parked For 30 Years! 1980 Lotus Esprit S2

Despite being an icon of British sports cars, this dusty 1980 Lotus Esprit S2 has been left in a garage for 30 years and based on the heavy coating of dust, three decades of storage is certainly believable. These are not cars you want to subject to long periods of inactivity, but thankfully, the storage arrangements look clean and dry. Will that make rejuvenating this forgotten Esprit any easier? Not likely, but it absolutely looks worthy of revival. Even more encouraging is the fact that it doesn’t appear to have ever been torn apart for restoration purposes. Find the Lotus here on Facebook Marketplace with an asking price of $18,500 in Dundee, New York.

The S2 was the second generation Esprit, with a small batch of S2.2’s squeaking out with a larger engine and more torque than the earlier models. What’s intriguing is this being a 1980 model puts it right in the thick of when the uber-rare S2.2 was being rolled out. Now, it’s probably unlikely, as less than 90 2.2s are believed to have been produced, but it’s fun to wonder. Taking a look at the Esprit in its dusty confines shows seemingly laser-straight body lines, no major rust or other damage, and even / consistent paint depth. Even the new-for-the-S2 Speedline wheels are still accounted for, along with the original body graphics front and rear.

The interior is in great shape, and this is a common weak spot in forgotten Lotuses. These cabins just seemed fragile since new, prone to disintegrating around the driver if left unattended. This car does not suffer from such issues, with handsome oxblood leather still in excellent shape, the dash uncracked, and even the leather-covered center console lid still appears to be in amazing shape. The door panels are intact with no period-aftermarket speakers crudely installed, and the original shift knob and steering wheel haven’t been swapped out for some aftermarket kit. Really, this is a good sign that this Lotus was loved before three decades’ worth of storage.

The Esprit was still a parts bin special at this point despite the supposed exclusivity that came with owning a Lotus. The taillights were lifted straight from a contemporary Rover product, and the American-ized bumpers look like they were bolted on with the care and precision of a line striper with blurred vision. The European market bumpers are a smart upgrade for a car like this, but that’s where I’d stop tweaking this otherwise preserved example. The location isn’t exactly easy to get to, north of Ithaca and heading towards Rochester, nor is it a particularly fun place to visit this time of year. But sometimes, the cars that are harder to get to offer a chance at a better price and less competition for ambitious buyers.

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Comments

  1. wifewontlikeit

    Hegarty Values this car between $12-17K in RUNNING condition. The listing does not account for seals, etc. However, with the beautiful period wedge styling of Giorgetto Giugiaro, this car looks stunning and the Esprit’s handling is brilliant. For a lotus lover, this would be a fun project. (Now, if you could get more poser out of the Federally choked engine…)

    Like 5
    • wifewontlikeit

      Uhh…that’s “POWER” not “poser”, although the car is a ‘pose’ of a supercar in miniature…

      Like 3
      • Arthur

        You could also install an LS3 in place of the stock engine. A company called Renegade Hybrids has already done such a conversion using a Porsche transaxle in place of the stock one.

        Also, the LS3 they used is an E-Rod product, so federal choking won’t be an issue.

        Like 2
      • Frank Sumatra

        And totally ruin the car. No thanks.

        Like 13
  2. bagadonuts

    Never builds confidence that somebody selling a vehicle hasn’t made any effort to get it as clean as possible before posting pictures.

    Like 6
    • Frank Sumatra

      I live about 2 hours from Dundee. I washed and waxed and put my car away two weeks ago on a beautiful day. Hated to do it, but I knew the weather could turn any day. The owner just may not have had the time to clean it properly. I hope the dust has not dulled your interest in the car,

  3. SMS

    These are wonderful cars. If it were me I would buy this as a restoration project. Have owned and helped friends with their Lotus. No one I know has been successful doing a rolling restoration on a Lotus.

    They are built to a weight point instead of a price point. Things like rubber and plastic have a lifetime, running or not.

    Like 1
  4. Toaph

    FB Marketplace link is a dud??? I’m closer than 2 hours, and actually want to come look at it.

    Like 2
    • Frank Sumatra

      Drive to Dundee then. How many Lotuses or Loti can there be there? Should be easy to find.

      • Toaph

        Sure, I’ll just roam the streets of the village and outlying area peering into every garage and barn window. People are generally cool with that, especially during a pandemic. Should be easy to find.

        Like 8
      • Frank Sumatra

        Yep. Good sense of humor pal. Have a great day.

    • 1Ronald

      No it isn’t. It’s there. Just brought it up.

      • Frank Sumatra

        I agree, just got back from Dundee. Spent the day peeping into windows and stalking folks who looked as if they might own a Lotus in a rural section of NYS where there are about 8,000 trucks for every Lotus. Hit the jackpot on the 4th barn I peeked into. After getting the German Shepard off me, I had a nice chat with the owner and will be making an offer.

      • Toaph

        I just tried again, and I’m still getting “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now”

    • Toaph

      I finally found it by just searching the marketplace directly. If you replace /commerce/listing/ with /marketplace/item/ then the link works.

  5. Bruce

    I am a Lotus owner and I would suggest that who ever purchases the car first take out the engine and then the gas tanks and replace them with the Stainless Steel Gas tanks that are now available. These tend to be reliable cars for the most part if not abused (which most are) but there are a couple of serious design flaws. The Gas tanks might be the issue as to why it was put up for so long.

    Lotus put a foam rubber under the gas tanks to keep them from squeaking and over time that foam adsorbed moisture and rusted the gas tanks thru. The smallest pin hole will leave the car with a serious gas smell to where you will stop driving it for fear of explosion. That happen to so many that there is a supplier of tanks in England that makes exact duplicates in either aluminum or Stainless Steel. While it is possible to remove the tanks without removing the engine it is far easier to pull the engine and transaxle first and generally faster.

    As for alternate engines, I have driven one with a V-8 as proposed and one with a Turbo V-6 and both were trash, great in a straight line but both engines put the car out of balance and both cornering and braking were compromised far more than you might expect. You can pull the carburetors and cams out and get some quick horsepower there if you need it but the trick of this Lotus is not acceleration but point to point speed. I have gone thru corners without lifting my throttle where other cars need to brake to get around. That is did so with great comfort and ease for both driver and passenger was telling.

    I have an earlier Europa that is more of the Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious but I put well over 200K on it over the 40 years I have owned it and it only failed me once when a defective bolt snapped on the rear suspension. I was very lucky as a friend near by had a replacement and I fixed it by the side of the road in about 20 minutes. Lotus are deceptively simple until you have to work on them and they you realize all the hard work that went into the design. Work that does not show to the average owner or mechanic.

    That being said getting near 30 MPG on trips in something this exotic with performance at speed that is near shocking is worth a great deal. Just make certain you fit. If you are over 6′ you should hesitate. Over 6’3″ Forget it, it will just break your heart.

    Like 10
    • Ike Onick

      Who are you and what have you done to Barn Finds??? Way too intelligent response. You have cast pearls before swine.

      Like 4
  6. Daniel Gavin

    Just love Toaph’s sense of humor…….had me laughing out loud at my desk!!
    One of the great things about this web site is comment section…..amazing to me is the number of knowledgeable car people out their and the inside information they provide. Keep up the good work…….your making this pandemic just a little easier to deal with. Stay safe.

    Like 2
  7. Joe

    Arthur: Oh, puhleeeeze… Not another LS comment.

    Also: Pad under gas tank: Been there – done that, on my Pantera. Same thing. Had to pull the engine and was lucky we could just cut off a small part of the perforated gas tank and cap it off. Lost 1+ gal. capacity but no biggee.

    Like 2
  8. Geoff A

    Pull the cams and carbs and replace , or Twin turbo RX-7 motor if you can figure out how to cool it, the weight issue should not be much, Wonder what the weight would be for a 215 Rover or Buick , I know they came in latter cars but think there was some redesign involved.

    • SMS

      I can understand the urge to reengineer the car and put in a more powerful motor. The motor is so well suited to this car it would be a shame to do little more than hop it up a bit.

      It is such a great feeling tossing around a well balanced and light car. Adding hp cannot counter act the extra weight when breaking or cornering.

      Will never forget the look on the face of a driver of a Porsche GT3 as he tried to follow me into a hard right turn while I was driving my wimpy 240hp Birkin (Lotus 7). He had finally caught up to me on the straight away and wanted to pass on the outside, while tucked in behind me. He was going a little faster and used my same breaking point. There was a look of disbelief on his face as I was turning in and he was sliding off.

      Later in the day I let him take my car around the track. He never could get used to how with a difference of almost 2,000 lbs could allow you to brake deeper and turn harder.

      Like 2
      • Joe

        SMS: Yes, the Throw-an-LS-in-It crowd never get that.

        Like 1
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        After driving a friend’s Elise, I have to agree that it is just the right balance of power and handling that makes a Lotus what it is.

        And this is from a Corvette owner of many years.

        That is why my next sports car will be a mid-engine lightweight.

      • Ike Onick

        Silly comments re the engine swaps. BF readers certainly are better engineers than Colin Chapman.

        Like 1
  9. Matt c

    If I recall, these things went 150 mph and got 30 mpg. Out of a 4 cyl, when this was new … that was a super car

    Like 1
  10. JimmyJ

    Honda b20
    Drops mike…..

  11. theGasHole

    Rochester not fun this time of year? Come on Jeff where’s your sense of adventure! haha. I remember as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s having a poster of this Lotus in my bedroom along with the mandatory Lambo and Testarossa posters. While a 30 year slumber is not a good thing for any car, I can imagine the state of the electrical components in this Lotus must be….not good. I bought a jaguar XJS convertible from upstate NY a few years back, garaged and in good condition. However, unknown to me as I bought the car off Ebay, mice had gotten under the hood and made a nest, compounding the electrical issues that Jags are already known for. I’d expect the same issue with this Lotus. But damn, it’s a beautiful car.

  12. Dom

    Bought it and looking forward to restoring back to its former glory.

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