Last Affordable Supercar: 1978 Lotus Esprit S1

You can’t deny it — the 11 year old boy (or girl) inside you wants to drive a supercar. Every single day. That little kid spent so much time staring at the mid engine red styled by Giugiaro speed machine on the wall in his room and you are driving around in a comfy crossover. Stop it. I know the excuses…modern super cars are too expensive and classic super cars are collected to the point where they are also overpriced…and maintenance on a V12 is ridiculous. But what if I told you that you could afford a vintage mid engine super car and afford to drive it every day. Well…maybe it’ll leave you stranded occasionally, but AAA unlimited towing is a small price to pay for letting that little kid live his dream. Find this 1978 Lotus Esprit S1 offered for $14,500 in Portland, OR via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!

From the seller:

1978 Esprit Series 1
VIN: 77110482H
condition: good
cylinders: 4 cylinders
drive: rwd
fuel: gas
odometer: 74400
paint color: red
size: compact
title status: clean
transmission: manual
type: coupe
LOTUS Esprit Series 1

The Esprit S1 attracts a lot of attention both on the road as well as in car shows. The rarity of the car along with recent rise in the price paid by collectors for the older Lotus cars make the Esprit S1 an attractive candidate for restoration. This 1978 Lotus Esprit S1 was acquired in 2006 with the goal of complete ground up restoration.

The Esprit offered here is a numbers-matching car that is mostly original. Although it is drivable, this car has been driven less than 1500 miles over the last 8 years and is in need of maintenance for it to be reliable. There are plenty of pictures of the car including the undercarriage details and will be available to any serious buyer. There is also a short video clip taken of the car on the road in May this year.

It comes with number of parts for restoration, and one near complete and a partial Lotus 907 engine. This car is being offered “as is” with no implied guarantee. It is open to full inspection by you or your qualified mechanic before you purchase it. The car must be sold for $14,500 or near offer.


A mid-engine sports car that was based on Lotus’ Formula 2 chassis configuration with the aluminum light weight Lotus 907 engine.
Mileage: 74,400 mi.
VIN: 77110482H
Engine No.: A07 771114303
Power: 140+ HP
Overall length: 162 ins.
Overall width: 73.25 ins.
Overall height: 43.75 ins.
Curb Weight: 2200 lbs

Overall Condition: Good.
Car is drivable but needs a modicum of maintenance to be a reliable driver.
Constructed in November 1977 and sold in US in 1978.
It is No.482 of a total of 712 Series-1 cars constructed by Lotus.

Has been stored in heated garages at least since 2006 when I acquired it. Never driven in the rain or wet roads since. It has been driven to car shows in mid-state Washington until 2012.

Engine & Fuel Systems:

Engine: All aluminum 4-cylinder twin-cam, quadrivalve Lotus 907 engine.
Displacement: 2 liters and was rated at 140HP in its stock form when sold new in US.
Fuel System: Supplied by an electric fuel pump through dual, twin-choke Mikuni 44PHH carburetors. These carburetors are not factory stock. The original “Federal” series cars were equipped with dual, twin-choke Stromberg/Zenith carbs.

Drive Train / Chassis / Wheels:

Transmission: 5-speed transaxle from the Citreon SM considered very desirable on Lotus Esprits.
Front Suspension: Independent by twin wishbones with single lower link and anti-roll bar providing lower location. Coil springs over telescopic shock absorber units.
Rear Suspension: Independent, by diagonal trailing arms and lateral link with fixed length drive shafts. Coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers.
Brakes: Vacuum assisted Girling hydraulic disc braking system; 9.7-inch disc in the front and 10.7-inch disc in the back.
Steering: Manual rack and pinion with energy absorbing column.
Wheels: Factory original “Wolfrace” magnesium alloy wheels. Front 6JKX14 and rear 7JKX14.
Tires: Front 205/60VR14 and rear 205/70VR14. The car has the correct size, but HR rated tires with matching tread pattern from Sumitomo with less than 1500 miles on them.
Chassis: There is some but minor, surface rusting around the radiator mount sub-structure of the car. There is no rust in the mid and rear sections of the chassis.
Chassis bushings and the shock absorbers need replacement.
Cooling System: The car did not overheat when driven in the summer when in central Washington State. The radiator appears to be up to the challenge and could use a good cooling system flush and the system refilled.


Electrical System: Original all Lucas components.
Instrumentation: Original Vegelia (green face) instrumentation.
Overall Condition: All instrumentation and exterior lights on the car work. Currently there are no major electrical issues except for the following:
Needs a new electric horn and an alternator. The alternator in the car is defective and does not charge the car while running.
Has new battery from COSTCO and is kept trickle charged. It seems to be adequate for short trips.
The passenger side window does not operate, and the driver side window can be moved only with heavy manual assistance.
Ignition switch appears to have been tampered with. While switch works with no issues, it is desirable to replace it with a new unit.


General: The S1 body was styled by Georgetto Guigiaro of Ital Design. The body is fiberglass sections lowered on to a backbone chassis frame.

Condition: Overall condition is fair to good. It has the after-market fiberglass composite Eurostyle front bumper and the rubber portion of the rear bumper has been removed at some point in time. Relatively new front windshield. The driver side headlight pod is sticky and could use some lubrication.
The car does not come with the original hard-shell engine cover. The floor coverings in the engine bay had deteriorated and were removed. However, the removed sections have been saved to serve as patterns for the construction of new replacement pieces.

Exterior: Shows signs of aging of fiberglass structure. The front windshield finisher (molding) strips are in poor shape and new strips could greatly enhance car’s curb appeal. Body shows surface stress cracks in a few places. Overall, the body work is in very good condition relative to other Esprit S1’s.

Interior: The condition is poor to fair. The car deserves a newer upholstery for the seats, the center console and the headliner.

Additional Items:

Factory Shop Manual, hardcopy file and as searchable PDF file on a disc.
Part catalogue as searchable PDF file on a disc.
Drivers Handbook as PDF file.
Original Dunlap spare tire on WolfRace alloy wheel.
Car jack and tools that came with the car.
A nearly complete Lotus 907 parts engine with Stromberg Carbs and starter motor from a wrecked Jensen Healy that had about 40K miles, valued at $800.00.
A partial engine for parts, valued at $500.00.
Two sets of taillight lenses from Fiat X19 ($200.00).
Window registers with motors from a 1988 Turbo Esprit to replace the existing arrangement for both windows ($500.00).
Two radiator cooling fans with mounting brackets from a 1988 Esprit ($250.00).
A SONY multidisc player with removable faceplate that came with the car.

See a better way to drive your bedroom wall super car?