Yellow Submarine: 26k-mile 1980 Lotus Esprit

This 1980 Lotus Esprit is being offered up for sale by the same seller I wrote about here who were selling two rare Mercedes.

They are a dealer and are quickly becoming our favorite local seller as they have obscure cars at decent prices, and are located right in New England, where older cars are harder to find.

This Esprit is listed as having only 26,072 miles on the odometer. The seller doesn't say if that's original miles or if the odometer overturned, but if it is original that's very few miles and would classify this as a survivor.

What is clear is that this thing is awesome.

The body is perhaps the definitive wedge shape of the '70s and '80s. It was created by legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro and has become his signature design. It is clean, simple and still modern looking. A white 1977 model that transformed into a submarine was famously driven by Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me.

This is a second generation "S2" Esprit and looks great in yellow. The S2 models were made from 1978-'81 and came after the first-generation S1 models from '76-'79. They featured minor cosmetic and mechanical improvements.

The body was fiberglass.

The Esprit had a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive. Since this is a 1980 model, it could have the 2.2-litre inline 4-cylinder engine that was introduced that year and had increased torque, or just a 2.0-litre. These are not the later turbocharged engines, so it's just a plain four-banger that is propelling you. While they are said to handle well and weigh only about 2,205 lbs., they are not rockets and could prove surprisingly slow.

That said, they are still probably a hoot to drive, especially with the low seats and manual shifting.

The seller has no details on whether it's running or not. Some of the pictures seem to show the vehicle sitting outside at a wholesale auction lot, so it may have been an insurance loss or donation that the seller then purchased. I would get the whole story on how this was acquired and what, if any, work was done. Any service receipts would be nice. If there is no history, be prepared to sink money into getting it working. Also check for rust on the undercarriage.

Early Lotus Esprit models are the best looking, even if they are the slowest. They are rare cars in any condition, and this one looks good in and out, which could corroborate the low miles. The body seems straight without any major problems. I'm not sure what it takes to rehabilitate fiberglass, but it could be similar to buffing a boat, if you've ever done that.

Find the craigslist ad here and the dealer listing here.

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