Buy Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit – the Holy Grail?

Lotus Esprit

Owned by the man himself and driven by the Iron Lady is this the holy grail when it comes to the Lotus Esprit?

The Lotus Esprit is one of the most recognisable vehicles on the planet. And in a break from driving an Aston Martin, 007 once drove one under water. But not even Bond’s own Esprit can match the power of this one. See, the Esprit you’re looking at here was, at one time, the personal chariot of Lotus founder, Colin Chapman.

And it’s for sale. Yep, head over to Mark Donaldson and you can make an offer on chassis SCC082910BHD10970, an 1981 Lotus Esprit built for Chapman. Here’s how it was specified for the boss.

  • Colour: Metallic Silver (Code A03)
  • Interior: Full Red Leather
  • Specification: Panasonic RM 610 roof-mounted stereo system
  • Modified and lowered suspension
  • Modified bodywork to reduce wind noise and internal ventilation
  • Modified brake pads
  • Pollen filters (Chapman suffered from hay fever)
  • Power Steering (unique to this car)
  • Specially assembled (blue printed) engine
  • Air conditioning
  • BBS alloy wheels (the first Esprit to be fitted with them)

In addition to being Chapman’s personal car, this Esprit was also driven around by Lotus Formula One driver Elio de Angelis. And, if you’re looking for a vehicle with pedigree and this isn’t already enough then it gets better.

See, love her or hate her, only a few days after it was registered in 1981, this particular Esprit was displayed at Norfolk Airport to celebrate the visit by the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s Prime Minister. He let her drive his car and showed Thatcher some of his other road and race cars.

Following Chapman’s death in 1982, the Esprit was sold off and passed through the hands of a number of owners. The current owner is the seventh since Chapman, has had the vehicle in storage. This thing has been pampered.

The Esprit is a British icon, albeit one designed by Italians but, this one in particular has to be not just one of the best examples of an Esprit but one with the best and most interesting history. And not just because of its brief life with Chapman but because of the owners who followed and the care they’ve shown it since.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.