Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79 Sports Car

A review of The Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79 Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the seventeenth model in the Lotus range.

In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Lotus Esprit Series 1, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the period 1975 to 1977.

Whilst at the Turin Motor Show in 1971, Colin Chapman met the renowned car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had previously designed the stylish mid-engined Maserati Bora, and who had set up his own design agency called Ital Design.

It was agreed that he would create a concept sports car based on the then current Lotus Europa.

Design work began in mid 1971.

Designated the Esprit, the prototype made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in 1972, where it received universal acclaim.

The track and wheelbase of the Europa twin cam chassis were increased to accommodate the 1973 cc, 16 valve, twin overhead cam, Lotus 907 engine.

The unit was fitted with two twin choke Dell’Orto DHLA carburettors, and developed 160 bhp (140 bhp in the US export model), with a top speed of 124 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 8.4 secs, and an overall fuel consumption of 25 mpg.

As with previous models, it had a glassfibre body, with the engine positioned longitudinally behind the passengers.

The design of the car was a joint venture between Lotus and Ital Design.

The first production prototype was available by Christmas 1974, when Lotus confirmed that the new car would be launched in 1975.

Accordingly, the Esprit Series 1 sports car, also known as the Type 79, was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Motor Show, as a successor to the Europa.

The new model was part of Lotus’ family of two door sports cars, including the Eclat and forthcoming Elite, which epitomised Colin Chapman’s vision of an upmarket production line completely devoid of kit cars.

The Series 1 embodied such features as racing suspension, a five speed Citroen Maserati gearbox, smooth body lines with no wings, and 70’s interior styling.

Although there was strong demand for the car, the Series 1 Esprit became renowned for poor reliability and quality which, sadly, was reminiscent of a number of previous models.

At that time, to make matters worse, Lotus was involved in the ill fated Delorean project, which stretched production facilities, to the detriment of their own cars.

The Series 1 differed from later versions of the car in that it had a shovel style front air dam, rear lights from the Fiat X19, Wolfrace alloy wheels, and a one piece instrument cluster.

A promotional coup was the car’s appearanace in a 1977 James Bond film in which it featured in a long chase sequence.

The Europa was never considered a particularly attractive car, with a somewhat cramped cockpit, and was more a motoring machine rather than a passenger car.

Since the Lotus 907 engine produced 140 ft/lbs of torque, it was clear that the Renault five speed gearbox, as used in the Europa, would not be strong enough.

The solution was when Citroen offered its five speed, all synchromesh gearbox, as used in the Maserati Merak coupe.

The independent front suspension was similar to that used in the Vauxhall Cavalier saloon, whilst the equivalent rear suspension was based on coil springs.

It used rack and pinion steering, without power assistance, and four wheel, non servo, dual circuit Girling disc brakes.

The interior layout was little changed, although there was much more room for passengers.

However, entering and leaving the car was still a challenge.

Unfortunately, the Esprit was still not available, as previously announced, in October 1975 due to a combination of financial restraints and the looming oil crisis.

Nevertheless, production finally began in May 1976, and the initial output was disappointing in so much as the cars were not as fast, refined, or reliable as expected.

By far the most important concern was the lack of refinement in regard to the engine noise being transmitted directly into the cockpit, which left an impression of harshness.

In contrast, there were few that would argue with the car’s good looks and handling abilities.

The Esprit’s target market was, of course, the US where exports began in 1977.

The US version of the Lotus 907 engine, fitted with two Stromberg carburettors, easily satisfied emission control regulations such that its output was maintained at 140 bhp, giving the car a top speed of 120 mph.

Esprit production experienced quite a boost after its launch in the US.

In 1976, 138 units were built, with all but 4 going to the home market.

However, this jumped to 580 in 1977, its best year, with 474 units being exported to the US.

A total of 718 units of the Series 1 were built.

Nevertheless, criticism and negative press reports concerning the initial output of the Series 1 forced Lotus to rectify these defects, and improve the car.

The result was the introduction of the Esprit Series 2 sports car in 1978.

This marked the end of the Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79

Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:

Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favourite?

However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Morgan sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1911 to 1996.

I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.

Learn Basic Car Maintenance

It’s amazing how many people get taken for a ride (ha ha) just by taking their car in for a basic service. A lot of people over think the modern technology of their car and believe everything the repair shop tells them. Modern cars really require way less maintenance, even though the basic concept is the same.

With all this power and amenities, most people forget or never knew that it is the same basic internal combustion engine used over a hundred years ago. And, electric and hybrid cars require even less maintenance than conventional automobiles! Learning basic maintenance about your vehicle can save you thousands of dollars over time and minimize potential breakdowns.

The three thousand mile oil change is a thing of past. If you’re still changing your car’s oil every three thousand miles, you’re wasting your money. You need to know what type of oil your car requires and the capacity. You need to know where the oil filter is located. Cheap oil filters will damage your car over time because they can take up to nine seconds longer to achieve maximum flow at startup. If you use one of those quick lube shops, make sure you know what type of oil they will use to refill the crankcase. Make sure you check the level on the dipstick before you leave the shop. Earlier I mentioned that you need to know where the oil filter is located, here’s why, some shops will not change the filter, but will charge you for one, if you mark the old one before you take the car for servicing, you’ll be able to verify that it has been replaced. Most of these shops lose money on the $29.99 oil change. A good quart of oil will set you back about five dollars, so if your car requires five, that’s twenty- five dollars, add the oil filter and you’re over the thirty dollar mark.

Now pay close attention. This is where you need to be up to date on your car’s maintenance schedule. The $29.99 oil change is a lure, it’s to bait you in and then double or triple charge you for a filter or drive belt or some other regular maintenance item you didn’t keep up with. We’re not trying to make everyone weekend mechanics, we just want car owners to read the owner’s manual so they’ll have an idea of what maintenance has to be done at the recommended mileage intervals. With that said, you tell me if it makes sense to take your new car in for the fifteen thousand mile service and be charged $400 to $600? What did they do to a car with only fifteen thousand miles besides change the oil?

You need to learn what maintenance items to consent to and what to say no to and still be assured your car is in optimum operating condition. A great benefit in learning how to properly maintain your car is also learning how to diagnose potential repair issues.

Temporary Car Insurance – A Stop Gap Insurance

It seems like a strange concept, temporary car insurance, insurance that you take out for a short period of time. You would think initially if you have never used this type of insurance, what is the point?

Surely it would be better just to get a full annual policy. In fact there is a growing demand for this type of car insurance and indeed for insuring a van. This is because at some point everyone finds that they need to borrow a car or van from a friend or relative, hires a car or wants to test drive a vehicle from the showroom.

Under normal circumstances most people will not be insured to drive another car, in fact many people assume that their own insurance or that of the company or other person will cover them. More often than not they will not be covered by the policy, this means that you need insurance.

It would be expensive to have to buy a whole annual policy just to drive a vehicle for a day or two. It can also be expensive to alter an existing policy such as your own or that of the person whose car you may be wanting to drive.

The solution to this situation is to take out car insurance just for the period of time that you will be driving the car for. This is now available as a temporary car insurance policy. It is the same type of car insurance that you get for your normal annual policy that covers you for a year except it can cover you for as little as a single day.

The benefits of this type of cover is that you are only paying for the time that you need, this means that you will be paying out less money and only paying for what you are actually going to use. 

You can get this type of car insurance for anywhere up to 28 days but if you need it longer you can just take out another policy which can last up to another 28 days. The other advantages of this type of insurance is that if you find that you need to extend your cover for a day or two all you need to do is log into any internet connected computer and update the policy online. The changes are made instantly, you can do this from any computer as you will have login details only known to you.