When you bring out the new flagship of a supercar range and it only has 215bhp, you better have either a good sense of humour or a very good product. When Lotus wheeled out the Esprit Turbo HC in 1980 the Hethel carmaker clearly hoped it had the latter. The first Esprit had arrived in 1976 with a rakish Giugaro design that gave it the looks to wander into the supercar party, but was powered by a less than exotic 2 litre four-cylinder engine that pushed out a paltry 160bhp. Four years later Lotus decided to give the Esprit a kick up its Rover SD1-adorned backside and embraced the blossoming trend for turbocharging. A slightly larger 2.2 litre lump was chosen and a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger was mounted above the clutch bellhousing. The engine gained a different camshaft profile and the boosted inlet air was fed to the Dellorto carburettors to a peak of 8psi above atmospheric pressure. This equated to a power boost to 215bhp at 6,250rpm and peak torque rose to 200lb ft at 4,500rpm. Lotus was keen not to appear to be cutting corners by simply bolting on a turbo, so a number of aerodynamic tweaks were made to the shape, including a new deep front spoiler, side skirts, extra plastic around the tail, and of course huge louvres over the engine bay. New 15”” BBS alloys were fitted, 7”” wide at the front and 8”” at the back with larger brakes sitting behind them. There was also a series of suspension tweaks to ensure the Turbo stayed firmly on the tarmac.
This 1987 Esprit Turbo was exported in its early days to Japan, later returning to the UK and into the current ownership. In more recent times the engine, gearbox and turbo have been overhauled, with only 2,000 miles covered since. With scope for further improvements, notably to the interior, this is a good prospect for the Lotus enthusiast.