Make life imitate art with this 1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo project


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Drift Stage,” the retro-fantastic arcade-style game, is coming soon: Its recent Kickstarter was a rousing success, which means it won’t be long until you can take virtual versions some of the coolest, wedgiest cars of the 1980s — like an electric orange Lotus Esprit — for sideways spins down appropriately 8-bit expressways.  

Other in-game cars include a Ferrari 328, a BMW M1 and a Toyota AE86, though their names have been changed (presumably to avoid any copyright hang-ups). That means the Lotus is really “The Bulldog” in-game. But we’re not fooled.


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Anyway, all this gives us an idea: There’s this 1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo project featured on Bring a Trailer, see, and the faded paint isn’t doing it any favors. It needs some serious TLC. So why not do it up “Drift Stage” style? Gold BBS rims. Kickin’ sound system. The brighter the exterior paint color, the better. (Yes, we know this is a later-generation Esprit than the Guigiaro-designed one in the game, but we’ll work with what we’ve got.)

It seems like a solid enough blank canvas. From the eBay Motors listing, we know that it’s a fairly low-mileage example that ran when parked half a year ago. We’re a bit troubled by some of the listing’s vagueness, though:

“The rear hatch looks like it is from a special edition one (special glass pattern) but I did not verify that. Trunk area looks very clean. Engine bay looks clean. Some electronics work, some don’t. I did not check every single button.”

The lister’s approach to selling this car is so cavalier that we’re actually sort of impressed. “No visible rust that I could find,” he reports. But then, how hard did he really look?


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Safe to say this car is going to need a very, very thorough going-over before it’s ready to drive, which, to be fair, the seller notes. That might make the $10,900 buy-it-now price a bit high, but there’s no harm in trying to talk him down a little (or a lot).

So head on over to eBay Motors and make the seller an offer he can’t refuse, then brace yourself for a challenging, but ultimately maybe fulfilling, overhaul job.

Not feeling up to the challenge? That’s OK. You can always get sideways in a virtual Esprit — er, Bulldog — in “Drift Stage.” Download the alpha version of the game here. It has limited features, but it’s free. We’ve been playing it for days now at work.



1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo Bring a Trailer for sale interior

The interior’s all there. Do all of the buttons work? No one knows, not even the seller.



Graham Kozak



Graham Kozak



– Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they’re doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.

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