Bolide The history of the Lotus Esprit Turbo

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Behind that unmistakable line still today, a (very slender) wedge that flies grazing on the asphalt, are Giorgetto Giugiaro’s pencil (and touch). Able to create, just to give an idea, a silhouette that has resisted the oppression of time for about thirty years, more or less. Yes, because the Lotus Esprit, which saw the light in 1972, remained alive until the early 2000s. What you see in the gallery, whipped by Ivan Capelli, is a 1989 Turbo.

Significant disturbances. A beautiful period for the Hethel company, which at the time had just entered the orbit of the then colossus General Motors. Beyond some tweaks to the line, with slightly more pronounced aerodynamic appendages, the major interventions took place under the skin. Not so much on the frame – the usual box beam to which the frames with the suspensions, the engine and the body, made of plastic material reinforced with fiberglass, are attached – as on the engine, a four-cylinder 2.2-liter and 264 horsepower. Entirely made of aluminum, it boasted a supercharging system that was not common for the time. An intercooler reduced the temperature of the compressed air from the turbo (Garrett TB03) thanks to a water cooling system with pipes, tank and radiator independent from those of the engine. In this way, even if for very short periods (about thirty seconds), 280 horses were available under the right foot: translated into numbers, this meant a 0-100 of just over five seconds, and a maximum peak of over 260 km / h.

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Pretty woman. Beyond the remarkable performance qualities, the Esprit Turbo was, and is, a machine to be tamed, rather grumpy to the limit. The driving position does not help, with off-axis pedals and a decidedly too bulky central tunnel, and neither does the steering, without assistance (heavy as a boulder in maneuvers). All peculiarities that have not prevented Esprit from becoming a real movie diva. First of all, as an official car of 007, in two films: “The spy who loved me”, where the British coupe was transformed into a submarine, but also in “For your eyes only”. Last but not least, the Lotus sports car also made an appearance in Pretty woman, in 1990, with a Richard Gere not exactly skilled in driving with a manual gearbox, and a Julia Roberts literally in love with roadholding.


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