In October 1987, the Esprit received its first revamp since its initial launch in 1976 and was given the project codename ‘X180’. This design was the work of Peter Stevens, who was also responsible for the styling of the Lotus Elan M100 and McLaren F1. Whilst it retained the basic creativity behind the original Giorgetto Giugiaro design, it featured rounder, smoother lines, which helped to reduce the drag coefficient to only 0.33. It was, in essence, a restyled bodyshell on an established, proven chassis and displayed ‘Turbo’ badges behind the line where the door shut. At the rear, there was an aerodynamically profiled under tray/spoiler to remove hot air from the engine compartment and cool the brakes.
Mechanically, the X180 differed little from its predecessor, the Esprit Turbo HC, with its 2,174cc, 16-valve, double overhead cam, Lotus 910 engine, developing the same 215bhp, and 220ft/lbs of torque. One important change was the gearbox with the Citroen/Maserati 5-speed unit being replaced by that from the Renault Alpine GTA saloon, which provided slightly higher gear ratios. Other improvements, following a redesign of the interior, included increased headroom and legroom, and a wider footwell.
With the higher gearing and low drag, it was slightly faster than the HC variant, and with a 0-60mph time of 5.4 seconds and a 0-100mph time of 13.3 seconds, it was actually faster than a Ferrari 328 GTB and Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2.
The X180 was a financial success, with 1,058 Esprits being built in 1988, a figure that would never be repeated.
The car presented here was built in April 1988 and was originally registered in St Helier, Jersey, where it resided until coming to the UK in 2011. Today, it remains just a two-owner (in total) example and is accompanied by a comprehensive service history which details the gearbox rebuild (at 52,000 miles in 2002) and the replacement of both alloy fuel tanks in 2005.
In early 2022, the car was the recipient of over £15,000 worth of mechanical refurbishment, with corresponding invoices/receipts documenting the work carried out (see details below). Prior to this recent work, the car had covered only 6,000 miles since 2011, having been dry stored when not in use.
This recent refurbishment included all the following:
Upgraded full clutch kit, replacement exhaust manifold, reconditioned Turbo, performance wastegate, Plenum volume extender, upgraded radiator and three-cooling fan conversion, new oil cooler and hydraulic pipes, full silicon hose set, full set of refurbished brake callipers and pads, full carburettor overhaul with new mounts, all new heater hoses, new water pump, powder-coating of engine parts, new battery, new crank pulley, new spark plugs/full service kit, new timing belt/tensioner and ancillary belts installed, air horn, refurbished starter motor and alternator, new battery terminals, new ignition leads, new starter coil, new temperature-sender unit/pipework, new distributor cap, full engine cylinder head overhaul (including valve guides), engine painted, chassis cleaned and Buzzweld-treated, bottom of engine inspected (all bearings good), all electrical glitches sorted, interior cleaned, minor repairs completed and the exterior polished and touched-up
These gorgeous Stevens-era Esprits are often overlooked in the world of Supercars, yet have the looks, sound, performance, and rarity of exotics being offered at five times today's guide price. In lovely condition, with 'driver's mileage' and in a very stylish colour combination, this cherished example would undoubtedly enhance the life of any enthusiast or collector alike.