A revision of the Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79 Sports Car, which covers the development, important features and technical data for this seventh model in the Lotus range.
In this article, I offer a nostalgic look to the Lotus Esprit Series 1, one of an elite group of classic cars produced in the 1975-1977 period.
While at the Turin Motor Show in 1971, Colin Chapman met the famous automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had previously designed the elegant Maserati Bora with a central engine and who had founded his own design agency called Ital Design.
It was agreed that they would create a sports concept car based on the then current Lotus Europa.
Planning began in mid 1971.
Designed by Esprit, the prototype made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in 1972, where it received universal acclaim.
The track and wheelbase of the European double cam frame were expanded to accommodate the 1973 cc, 16 valves, double overhead cam, 907 lotus engine.
The unit was equipped with two Dell Ortho DHLA dual-dimension carburettors and developed 160 HP (140 HP in the US export model), with a maximum speed of 124 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 8, 4 seconds and an overall fuel consumption of 25 mpg.
As in previous models, it had a fiberglass body, with the engine positioned longitudinally behind the passengers.
The car design was a joint venture between Lotus and Ital Design.
The first production prototype was available for Christmas 1974, when Lotus confirmed that the new car would be launched in 1975.
As a result, the Esprit Series 1 sports car, also known as Type 79, was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Motor Show, as a successor to Europe.
The new model was part of Lotus & # 39; family of two-door sports cars, including the Eclat and the upcoming Elite, which embodied Colin Chapman’s vision for a luxury production line completely free of kit cars.
The 1 Series features features such as a racing suspension, a five-speed Citroen Maserati gearbox, smooth body lines without wings and an interior style of the 70s.
Although there was high demand for the car, the Esprit 1 Series became famous for the poor reliability and quality which, unfortunately, reminded of a number of previous models.
At the time, to make matters worse, Lotus was involved in the poorly designed Delorean project, which extended the production facilities to the detriment of their cars.
The 1 Series differed from later versions of the car in that it had a front pneumatic blade dam, rear lights of the Fiat X19, Wolfrace alloy wheels and a one-piece instrument cluster.
The promotional coup was the appearance of the car in a 1977 James Bond film that featured him in a long chase sequence.
Europe was never considered a particularly attractive car, with a slightly cramped interior, and it was more a motor car than a passenger car.
Since the Lotus 907 engine produced a torque of 140 feet / pounds, it was clear that the Renault five-speed gearbox used in Europe would not be strong enough.
The solution was when Citroen offered its all-synchronized five-speed gearbox, as used in the Maserati Merak coupe.
The independent front suspension was similar to that used in the Cavalier Vauxhall cabin, while the equivalent rear suspension was based on coil springs.
It used rack and pinion steering, without power assist, and Girling four wheel, non servo, dual circuit disc brakes.
The interior layout was little changed, although there was much more room for passengers.
However, getting in and out of the car was still a challenge.
Unfortunately, Esprit was not yet available, as previously announced, in October 1975 due to a combination of financial restrictions and an impending oil crisis.
However, production finally started in May 1976 and initial production was disappointing as the cars weren’t as fast, refined or reliable as expected.
By far the most important concern was the lack of refinement regarding the engine noise transmitted directly into the cockpit which left an impression of harshness.
On the contrary, there were few who would argue with the beautiful appearance and driving skills of the car.
Esprit’s target market was, of course, the United States, where exports started in 1977.
The American version of the Lotus 907 engine, equipped with two Stromberg carburettors, easily met the emission control standards so that its power was maintained at 140 HP, offering the car a maximum speed of 120 mph.
Esprit’s production registered a significant boost after its launch in the United States.
In 1976 138 units were built, with all but 4 intended for the internal market.
However, this rose to 580 in 1977, its best year, with 474 units exported to the United States.
A total of 718 series 1 units were built.
However, criticism and negative press reports regarding the initial Series 1 output forced Lotus to correct these flaws and improve the car.
The result was an introduction to the Esprit Series 2 sports car in 1978.
This marked the end of the Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79
Perhaps this walk in memory may have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:
Which Morgan sports car it is yours Favorite?
However, if this question remains unanswered, I will review, in detail, in future articles within this website, the full range of Morgan sports cars that have been featured in the event was memorable among the 1911 and 1996.
I hope you will join me on my nostalgic journeys in the memory of the sports car.