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Bond car that broke bounds.


ONE of the most exciting cars I have ever driven is the Lotus Esprit Turbo of 1980-87.

I was able to test one on a track and this incredibly fast and nimble car set standards of excitement that were not surpassed until years afterward.

Capable of an attainable 148mph and a 0-60mph sprint of 6.1 seconds, this car was enhanced greatly by the legendary Lotus handling. It was lightning on wheels and could out-corner most things of its day.

But in the cold light of day, the Esprit Turbo was not quite the prestige British supercar it could have been because like other Lotuses it was held back by somewhat poor reliability.

But the collectors still love them and I can certainly understand why. This was the crossover betwen the older style sports cars and the new. Wider horizons of speed and acceleration were being explored and the Esprit Turbo was a sort of Starship Enterprise that took the performance fan where few had gone before.

I certainly had that feeling when putting this car through its paces. Few cars previously had put over their power quite as much as this one did. It screamed round corners, was forgiving of my driving faults and seemed to have bottomless power.

It was all tuned to the n'th degree and it felt fantastic.

The Esprit Turbo took a long time to emerge but it hit the streets - and tracks - in 1980 and started something of a dynasty of progressively more powerful cars.

Based on the layout of the mid-engined Esprit it differed in using a dry-sump version of the 2,174cc twin-cam engine installed in a backbone chassis frame with a different rear suspension layout.

The five-speed transmission was by Citroen-Maserati and the whole car had "go-go-go" written all over it.

The original Essex Petroleum (F1 sponsors) liveried cars were expanded to embrace more conventional colours.

Later a wet-sump lubrication system was adopted and the whole car became much more refined. Even air-conditioning became an option.

James Bond drove an Esprit Turbo in For Your Eyes Only in 1981 and this gave the car the image boost it needed to make it one of the greats.

The 200bhp-plus Esprit Turbo was replaced by the revised style X180 Esprit in 1987.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2008
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