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The 1989 Lotus Esprit sports car parked at the Palace House Beaulieu
1989 Lotus Esprit | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The Lotus Esprit was a grand tourer model produced and sold by the British automotive manufacturer Lotus Cars Limited. The Esprit is notable for its pop-up headlights and “folded paper” design from Giorgetto Giugiaro, most famous for designing the DMC DeLorean and the Volkswagen Golf MK1.

The Lotus Esprit started as Project M70, a model meant to replace the Lotus Europa mid-engine coupe model. After disappointing tests, the project was almost shut down, but the “Silver Car” prototype was positively received at the 1972 Turin Auto Show in Italy, convincing detractors to let it move forward. The production model of the Espirit S1 (Series 1) then premiered at the 1975 Paris Motor Show and went on sale the following year.

The last Lotus Esprit was the S4 (Series 4) which ended production in 2004. During its run, notable rivals of the Esprit grand tourer included the Acura NSX, the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ferrari 308 and 348, the Maserati Merak, and the Porsche 911.

About Lotus

  • 2004 Lotus Esprit (Starting MSRP $90,825)
  • Pros: The Lotus Esprit sports car coupe had quick and responsive acceleration, plenty of power under its hood, sharp and precise steering, and standouts out as a rarity on the road due to exclusivity.
  • Cons: The Esprit’s driver’s cockpit is a bit cramped and provides less visibility than most would like.
  • See Also: Elise and Evora

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