You Can Now Own THE Personal Lotus Esprit Of Colin Chapman
Last month, we covered a 1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo HC for sale that was referred to by the seller as the ‘Holy Grail’ of the model. But we’re not so sure of that anymore, because another Esprit is now available in the U.K., a very unique version with low miles and also in excellent condition.
And what really tips the scales for this one is that it was once owned by Lotus founder, Colin Chapman.
This 1981 Lotus Esprit Series 3 Turbo, available for sale by Mark Donaldson Ltd., was allocated for Chapman himself and built to unique specifications not found on other Esprits of the era. These include a lowered suspension, modified bodywork to reduce road noise and internal ventilation, a ceiling-mounted Panasonic stereo system, a hand assembled and blue-printed engine with a dry sump, power steering and special pollen filters, as Chapman suffered from hay fever. It was also the first Esprit to be fitted with those now-famous BBS snowflake alloy wheels.
Soon after taking ownership, the Lotus was brought by Chapman to an airport in Norwich for a special guest; in town for meetings was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was not only given a tour of some of the company’s product range, but also got behind the wheel of the Esprit for a short drive. According to news reports of the era, The Iron Lady admitted she ‘was tempted to drive away in it’.
Unfortunately for Chapman, he didn’t get to enjoy the Lotus for very long; he died of a heart attack in December of 1982. The Esprit was sold off the next year, and subsequently changed hands seven times up to its current owner. Through all that time, it has undergone major engine rebuilding and service, including from the Lotus factory itself. It has just over 11,000 miles on the odometer and is in near-pristine condition, especially the deep red interior.
The seller’s website has no price listed for this Esprit, but with such low miles and historic provenance, expect this one to go fast.
*Images courtesy of Mark Donaldson Ltd.