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Esprit Lightbulb Upgrade

The Esprits Headlights have never been particularly good. Based around a very old design they aren't too good if you actually need to light up the road. Not a problem if it's a lit road, but on a dark road it can be difficult to drive fast at night using just the dip beam. The full beam gives more than enough light, especially if you're change the relay to get all four lights working at the same time (see * below). But dipped on their own are rubbish.

You don't have to wait until they fail to change your bulbs; even superior products generate less light as they age.

This guide will show you how to change the bulbs, which is easy. But more importantly we will be testing two types of upgraded bulbs to give more light and help you see at night. At around £30 for a set of four bulbs for the Esprit, we'll find out if it's worth the money and which are better. The Esprit needs a H1 and H4 size bulbs for each side.

We will be testing OSRAM's 'Silverstar' 55W bulbs, which are legal for road use in Europe (ECE R37 Approved), give up to 50% more light – with Xenon Gas. They have a silver cap for a stylish high performance upgrade and are directly interchangeable.

We'll also try out PHILIPS Rally 100/90W bulbs, which aren't legal and are really made for Rally cars. These are a much higher wattage and should give more light. But not being legal, are they worth fitting. *Also you'll need to re-wire your headlights with larger cable if you've changed the relay to have all four light on during full beam. These bulbs with pull too much ampage for the standard wires. We may look at doing this in the futre and will add to this page if we do.



You will need the following parts:

4 bulbs (2x H1, 2x H4)

You will need the following tools:


These item will be available at www.esprit4sale.co.uk's E-Shop. Part of Lotus Esprit World.com

Time:- 20 mins for both sides.


Two sets of bulbs to test. The Philips are Rally bulbs and are rated at 100/90W and aren't legal! The Osram bulbs are Silverstar, rated at 55W and advertise the +50% more light heavily on the packaging. These are road legal, so guessing not as bright.


Time to remove the headlamp covers. We've got carbon fibre versions (available at the E-Shop) which are nice and easy to remove. You'll probably need a screwdriver to remove the standard ones. See the light guide if you need more help. Don't lose the screws into the pod holes!


To remove the lamps just use a screwdriver or you finger to turn the plastic clips on the three corners. Once they all line up you can just pull the lamp out.


The dip beam (above) has the H4 bulb in it and is removed by simply unattaching the two metal clips. You can then pull the bulb connection out of the headlamp.


Remove the old bulb by pulling it out of the connector. Do not put your fingers on the actual glass of the bulb, this goes for the new bulb as well. Push the new bulb in and refit to the lamp.


The Main beam uses the smaller H1 bulb and has a rubber cover over the back of the lamp. Pull it off carefully and pull of the earth connection and undo the metal clip to remove the bulb. Again, do not touch the glass on the bulb. Pull out the old bulb and replace with the new one. Then just put everything back the opposite to the way you took it out! It's an easy swap.

Testing the Upgrade Bulbs


Testing the bulbs isn't particularly easy. Especially as we had one of our dip beams out on the originals. The only way to test them properly is to get on an uplit road in the dark. The pictures on of the garage door only tell part of the story. We changed the originals before we managed to test them, but as one was out anyway, it wouldn't have been particularly good. Let's just say they aren't that good as standard.

Osram Silverstar 55w


The garage door test shows up alignment, not sure if it helps in deciding how bright the new blubs are. They do look a lot brighter than the picture of the standard stuff above and less of a 'yellow' light.


An unlit road on dip and then full beam. Much better than the standard bulbs. A much whiter light and more range. The full beams lit up and whole road before, so this improvement isn't a noticeable, but again a whiter light. A good upgrade over the standard stuff.

Philips Rally 100/90w


The garage door test shows again. Don't see a whole lot of difference. Although in the Osram pictures we left the fogs on! Idiots!


Back at the unlit road. The more powerful illegal bulbs light up the road a little better and give a much whiter light again. The are better than the 55w bulbs, but as they're 'not for road use', it's difficult to judge whether they are worth getting over the 'Silverstars'.

Price from LotusPerformance are as follows:

Osram Silverstars – £28 for a set of 4.
Philips Rally – £39 set a of 4.

This includes UK Postage please enquire for postage to Europe or the US.

LEW's Verdict

Changing the bulbs is easy! You'll need to do it if you blow a bulb and this guide will give you the confidence to do it. What we really want to know is how good are the upgraded bulbs and are they worth the money. HID is the expensive option and is a much larger install. Will this cheaper option make driving in the dark safer and easier?

Well we tested both sets of the upgrade bulbs. We've not driven any distance as yet and will report back here once we have, but we can already tell the light is better. Both give a whiter, clearer beam. A little better spread of light as well. On the short test we did, you can tell the Philips bulbs are more powerful, but whether, as said above, they are than much better than the legal 'Silverstar' is difficult to tell. We're going to put a few more miles (in the dark of course) in before we decide.

What we do know is you should upgrade your bulbs. Standard aren't good enough for a quick car like the Esprit. The car is capable of covering ground quickly and you need to be able to see that ground. If you do a lot of night driving then you've probably changed yours already. If you don't, you should, as you don't want to get caught out. Definately a worthwhile upgrade that we wished we'd done years ago.

This mod was performed by LEW on their 1992 Esprit SE.

This item is available at www.esprit4sale.co.uk's E-Shop. Part of Lotus Esprit World.com

If you try this, feel free to e-mail us with your Verdict at admin@lotusespritworld.com

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