What was an American Lotus enthusiast to do? The Esprit had finally been given the performance its supercar looks promised, thanks to the introduction of a turbocharger to the 2,147cc inline-four in 1980. And yet, ongoing financial problems led the company to stop sending cars to the U.S. right around the same time.
Wesley C. Fredericks Jr. to the rescue. Frederics, a successful New York attorney, paved the way for Lotus’s return by creating an independent importation and distribution company, Lotus Performance Cars. To obtain the necessary financing, he recruited 47 wealthy Lotus enthusiasts, each of whom invested $50,000 up front and provided a promissory note for another $50,000. In return, each of these limited partners was given a Special Edition Turbo Esprit.
There were 50 of these Special Edition cars built – 47 for the investors, and three for sale to the general public. This 1983 Lotus Turbo Esprit Special Edition for sale on Hemmings.com is one of those cars – number 33, to be exact.
The Special Editions, which celebrated Lotus’s 25 years in the United States, were given a default paint scheme of silver over Chrysler Steel Gray paint with a red stripe, although the investors could specify their own colors, if they wished. (Most did.) Each also had a removable glass sunroof (years before the option was made available to the public), a fancy Blaupunkt stereo, leather upholstery, air conditioning, an uprated suspension and a blueprinted engine that had been run in on a dyno.
The seller explains that this car needs some work, and an Esprit authority we contacted said that all of the reported problems are common, and not difficult to fix. With such rarity (and a plaque engraved with the original owner’s name on the steering wheel), we’d imagine this car’s backstory wouldn’t be too hard to track down. From the seller’s description:
I am selling my rare and beautiful 1983 Lotus Turbo Esprit Special Edition (#33 of 50). For those of you who are not familiar with this limited release, please search what is referred to as the 1983 Lotus Investor car. These are very unique cars. I have seen them advertised for between $30,000 and $35,000. I have had the car for about 20 years. It was garaged the entire time until about 2 years ago when it was placed in my mother’s carport. I only drove it to car shows and it always started right up and ran very strong. Do not mess with the engine – it was balanced at the factory. Unfortunately I let the car sit without running it for the last 6 years. I recently drained the fuel tanks, replaced the filter and fuel pump, and cleaned out the top end of the carbs. It fires really well, runs for 3 seconds then stops. My guess is the bottom end of the carbs are gunked up. Regardless, I know that it is nothing major but I don’t have a garage anymore to work on it. Your gain. Other fixes needed – replace the accelerator cable (it’s frayed), clutch and brake cylinders are probably dried out from sitting, needs a couple of relays that work the lights. The interior is very decent but has a cracked seat and some cracked leather on the dash around the defrost vent. It will take very little to make this a beautiful driver.
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