1977 Lotus Esprit Series I
Sold For $106,400Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Sotheby's - MONTEREY 24 - 25 AUGUST 2018 - Offered on Saturday
- Currently showing just over 4,100 original miles
- Exceptionally original and well preserved
- Striking and very rare orange gelcoat finish
- The 27th of 459 examples distributed to the U.S. market
- One of only four U.S.-delivery cars in orange gelcoat
- Includes original Bill of Sale and Lotus Certificate of Vehicle Provenance
- Perhaps the finest all-original Series I Esprit extant
Please note that due to California emissions, this vehicle must be sold to a dealer or out-of-state resident.
When the production Esprit arrived at 1975’s Paris Motor Show, it stood in marked contrast to the bug-eyed Europa. Finally, here was a Lotus that led the way not only in how the rear mid-engine coupe drove but in how it grabbed the spotlight. Underneath its fiberglass body panels sat a steel backbone chassis. Initially, the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder from the Europa and the Eclat supplied power to the rear wheels via a Citroën-sourced five-speed manual.
At around 2,000 lbs. unladen, the Esprit was light, if not exactly fast. Its 2.0-liter engine produced 160 hp in European guise and 140 hp in American-market form. Subsequent updates added more power and eventually a turbocharged engine. Unlike later Esprits, the Series I has a simple, unadorned look with black front and rear bumpers, no side air ducts behind the passenger compartment, and taillights sourced from the Fiat X1/9. Parked next to the less angular Peter Stevens-designed update that carried the Esprit into the 21st century, the Series I is a throwback to another era. Today though, the first Esprit with its unassisted power steering and sharp handling is considered the purest of a breed that lasted nearly 30 years.
The 1977 example offered here was completed by the factory on 16 February 1977 and was the 27th of 459 Series I Esprits distributed to the U.S. market. It is also the second of just six U.S. examples painted in a striking orange (S04), of which four were finished in ‘self-color’ gelcoat, where the original color was added to the gelcoat. Only the early cars were finished in self-colored bodies as this process was phased out in 1977. The interior was trimmed in Oatmeal cloth on the seats, center console, and door trim along with brown Marcasite elsewhere, according to its Lotus Certificate of Vehicle Provenance.
This Esprit owes its highly preserved status to its first owner, Tim Zaremba, a real-estate developer who only put about 4,000 miles on it before tucking it away in climate-controlled storage under a car cover for decades. The car was later discovered and acquired by Tony Krncevic, a well-known member of the Lotus community and perhaps the foremost authority on S1 Esprits. The car has since been collector owned and treated with great care to preserve its all-original condition. It shows few indications of those 4,000 miles and still rides on its original tires wrapped around correct Wolfrace chrome alloy wheels. Tony Krncevic has described this car “as original and uncorrupt an example as you will find.”
Included with the car is the original Bill of Sale from 1977, along with registration receipts and other original paperwork from the first owner. The extremely low mileage is accurate and the condition is that of a true time-capsule Lotus. The interior remains in essentially as-new condition, while the rare orange gelcoat is exceptionally well preserved.
This is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a first-year Lotus Esprit in the most iconic period color combination with extremely low mileage and in completely original condition. A better Series I Esprit is hard to imagine.