Atle Ellefsen from Nesoya, Norway, owns a 1993 Turbo SE in Calypso Red with a Magnolia interior
Turbo SE Year: 1991, first registered 1993 Colour: Calypso Red Interior: Magnolia Driving Style: Responsibly according to conditions Miles per year: About 2000, garaged during winter Owned Since: July 2007 Purchase from: Lotus Garage Pfenninger, Switzerland http://www.lotusautos.ch/ Serviced at: To be advised Other Cars: 2004 Audi A4 1,8QT Limo Previous Lotus': None Why an Esprit: Because it’s awesome in every respect. Upgrades: Remus 4-pot exhaust and Avon tires (by PO); blow-off valve, new tailgate lifters, hand brake lever, floor mats & door sills (Ramspott & Brandt). AC/vent display panel (Telstar One); ventilation knobs (LotusPerformance); gear knob (Moto-Concept). Flamebeater fire extinguisher (Elise-Parts); Momo Fighter Zebrano steering wheel (Torshov Bilrekvisita), Enamel Union Jacks / Lotus wing logos (Auto Regalia); alloy gear surround (Lotus Prepared by Claudius); Blaupunkt Bronx stereo, Morel Integra and Magnat speakers from local stereo shop. I have moved the “Design by Lotus” badge forward of the rear wheel arch. All modifications are reversible. Problems:
Next to nothing
Info: See Below
- British hand-built exotic supercar
- Rated as one of the top ten fastest road production cars in 1991
- 2,2L angled straight 4-cylinder aluminum engine with charge cooled turbo
- 6 fuel injectors, chromed piston heads, 4 valves per cylinder
- 246 BHP with 280 BHP boost power; 345 Nm torque
- 7400 rpm max
- 0-100 km/h in 4,5 seconds, top speed 270 km/h
- Dry curb weight 1265 kg
- VIN: SCC082910MHF60325
- Price new in the UK (1991): 46,300 GBP
- Price new in Norway (1991): Twice the asking price in the UK
- Purchased for: You Only Pay Twice
- Number of units produced (Esprit SE): 1608
- Number of units produced in 1991: 113
The car left the production line February 28th 1991 but was first registered January 1st 1993. The archivist at Lotus Cars could not shed any light on why the car stood for so long; there was indeed a slump in the supercar market at the time, and buyers tended to be late in collecting their cars. Swiss registered since new, I am the third owner it appears.
With the acceleration of a Boeing 737 and the cornering of a leopard, the Esprit never fails to exhilarate. The body harks back to its Italian ancestry; the chassis proves its formula racing blood and the interior is a showroom of British classic motoring. The kids love riding in it and the baby seat fits nicely with plenty room for the trolley and groceries in the boot. You can take the roof off on sunny days, it will not rust, and it offers a reasonably comfortable ride with an evocative, thundering exhaust note. The car boasts a positive enthusiast image - so far just smiling and waving by-passers - no obscene gestures. It’s also very environmentally friendly, with an average specific carbon emission level minimal production and scrapping footprint. It only runs 2-3000 km annually, and no need to replace it with a new car every 5th year – this is a car for keeps. Through the LEF community it contributes to international friendship, brotherhood and understanding and that is what I call environment.Esprit! The Story
After 20 years of daily use, my 1986 Alfa Romeo GTV6 2,5 deteriorated beyond repair, meaning lack of time and capacity to repair the disintegrated body parts. I decided I needed a replacement. I have owned classics since 1983, starting with a Triumph Spitfire MK2, next a 1977 Lancia Beta Coupe 2,0 and then the Alfa. So, ending up selling the old chica as spare parts, I asked myself - what will I have now?
The question was answered at a lunch party hosted by my wife’s friend whose husband happened to own a red 1986 Turbo Esprit. I had always envied him. Now it turned out that another well-spoken man at this party also happened to own an Esprit, blue this time. Suddenly I was caught between these two old sports, assisted by assorted beverages, chatting me up explaining that the Esprit was the best car in the World and highly fitting to my eminence, whatever that meant. Get one from Switzerland they insisted, from a certified dealer. Swiss cars are kept in the best condition in the World.
Next morning I started to investigate the web, visiting all the club sites and forums. I revisited my James Bond collection and even went as far as buying “Pretty Woman” (OK, it was Nice Price) just to check out the main title scene. Doing some simple arithmetic I suddenly realized I could buy a supercar and a movie star all at once, and get away with it. After some searching I hit the target, on Autoscout. Initially aiming for a an S3 or the likes, I recalled the advice of the newer the better and jotted down a short e-mail to Lotus Garage Pfenninger asking how this 54,000 km SE they were advertising was running.
“It’s very good”, Melanie from Zurich wrote back instantly, “When will you come and see the car?”
My wife was pregnant due in 14 days… could I just pop down to Zurich to look a car? Again, the question answered itself. I was mildly forced to carry out a piece of business in Gdansk the following week. The distance between Gdansk and Zurich is only a mere 1050 kilometers, so with blessings and reassurances from the expanding wife I took a wide turn homebound via Zurich. I departed back to Oslo the next evening with a signed contract for an immaculate calypso-red Esprit SE with a magnolia interior. The car was in very good condition, with engine and under-bonnet looking almost as new. The interior leather had been re-sprayed and I suspect the body, or parts of it, had been as well. There was not a scratch in the paint; some minor repairs could be seen on the rear bumper. Whatever, it has been well done. All services were followed and logged.
Back home we had baby Henrik and ten days later I flew back to Melanie to collect the car and drive it home. Waving goodbye in the Esprit with an array of gifts from Mr. Pfenninger including a full tank, a 1:18 model Elise for my 6-year old, a Lotus Teddy Bear for the new baby, a Lotus bag for my daughter and a Lotus cap and Lotus key-ring I decided to keep myself, I embarked on the terrifying drive out of Zurich rush hour in a car I had never even close to driven anything similar to, lying on the asphalt void of rear or side vision. I clicked on to the autobahn northbound screaming, hitting the border at Basel finding its sinister customs building. Time for some paperwork!
After waiting in line behind all of Belgium’s truck drivers to get their chain-saw import and shampoo export manifests stamped, it was my turn. The uniform behind the glass window, not casting me a glance, twitched his moustache and said “hum…. Lotus”. He looked around and waved for his colleagues, all getting up from their desks in an office landscape which was in fact, a scale model of Lake District made out of paper. Gathering around, sensing a potential highlight of the day, “hmm… Lotus”, the stampers mumbled one after one. Then followed what seemed to be a big discussion, with waving of arms and searching back and forth. I started to worry but then the main man started to select sets of stamps. Bang, bang. BANG! He stamped, returning the documents asking me to now stand in line at the Swiss counter across the hall.
Then followed many returns between the Swiss customs counter, the German customs counter, the funky dispatch agent and finally the cashier, I reckoned to pay some kind of handling fee. The cashier smiled, returned my expanding pile of stamped documents and said, “OK, all good. That will be eight-thousand five-hundred Euros, please.”
I felt dizzy, knowing I was turning pale. “WHAT??”
”Yes, export guarantee” he replied. “You get ze refunt ven home in Norvegen, money beck. Alles gut.”
“But…. but… I don’t have eight-thousand five-hundred Euros!” I stuttered.
“Zen, you can not drrrive” he informed.
“OK, I have a credit card” I suggested hopefully.
“No card” he mused, “only cash.”
“CASH!? HOW DO I GET 8500 EUROS IN CASH HERE?? EVEN THE BANKS ARE CLOSED!!”
“Zer iss a cesh machine in ze highvay restaurant across ze shtreet” Mr. Bean-counter advised dryly.
Bewildered and desperate I even degraded myself to walk over to the fat-fry-smelly café cash machine, proceeding to withdraw eight-thousand five-hundred Euro but the computer said no, in big letters accompanied by an alarming red exclamation mark. Good thing the machine didn’t arrest my card. Devastated and sulky, I went up to the funky dispatch agent again, sat down, asked for a coffee and otherwise emergency assistance.
“Guarantee deposit?” the rapper-biker or whatever he was asked. “No problem, if you can get the seller to guarantee its OK” he yawned.
So it was that simple. A phone to helpful Melanie and it was sorted. After four hours of hell at the border I was back on the road again, shaken but not stirred. This unexpected delay had a positive side effect; it made sense to stop for the night in Heidelberg, which was a treat. The remaining 2200 kilometers were smashing, jolly good hockey-sticks. Especially waking up every morning in some new strange place like for example Duisburg wondering why I was doing this.
Back home I called the Public Roads Administration for the compulsory import MOT. The lead-time for a MOT in the Oslo area is about 5 weeks, but if you call a nearby country village you get an appointment the next day and an excuse to drive far. So I drove merrily for two hours to the town of Kongsvinger just to turn not so merrily back with no license voucher, because I had no EU declaration. Frankly, I had no idea our automotive bureaucrats were helpless without one. With both Switzerland and Norway being the only remaining non-EU countries in Western Europe it is of course obvious to anyone that you need a European Union compliance sheet. All I had was a mere, worthless Swiss certificate of conformity – and it was in French, not English or German as they were accustomed to. In the mean time, my Swiss transit plates ran out of date so I had to garage the car – for a month it turned out.
Back in the dark, I called Melanie. Melanie called Lotus and voila, like magic the EU declaration of conformance for SCC082910MHF60325 dropped into my postbox courtesy of Hethel. Back to Kongsvinger traffic warden and like a dream come true, the station manager, happy with his EU stamps, issued a license plate voucher. Technical inspection was executed like so:
- Inspector looks at car, opens door and exclaims: “Wow, this car is way cool!”
- Inspector lifts car, looks underneath and repeats: “Yeah, wow this is cool. Real neat.”
- Inspector lowers car and suggests keeping an eye on the right wheel bearing.
- Inspector returns to fill out the EU documents, takes two hours.
With all technical approved, only thing left now was to pay the import duty. In Norway, you pay an import tax based on the car’s weight, cylinder volume and output. You are awarded a reduction in import tax proportional with the car’s age. All in all the total will nevertheless amount to twice the purchase price in whatever foreign country.
The car's Swiss papers documented the registry date to 01.01.1993 or - New Years Day 1993. And this is what it's all about.
On the web, customs have a cost calculator: You input the car’s parameters and presto, output is how much twice you have to pay in duty. I had in advance calculated on the penny the sum so big was my surprise when the bill was 1000 Euros more. I filed a complaint and it turned out that the custom's IT system had rejected January 1st, identifying it as a fictive date since no public services in the western world are open on that day. Consequently the computer had automatically jumped a year ahead, charging me for a "newer" car - spitting out the year 1994 as cost basis. The web-calculator however, does not do this trick – rather misleading I should say.
Customs suggested I contact the Public Roads Administration if I meant the date of first registry was incorrect. Ironically, customs sent an e-mail with big letters, saying that if the car’s registration date can not be proven or accepted, the year following the production year shall be input. Great, so since the car is documented leaving the production line in February 1991 I am entitled to a further reduction from 1992! This was for sure rejected by the customs!
So after grudging and grinding about this for a full year I finally got the energy to visit the local DOT traffic station to state my case. Surprisingly the officer there insistently engaged in my unfair treatment, kicked up customs and called me every day to keep me updated until I received a call from a palpably defeated customs officer asking me for my bank account number.
- “We are obliged to abide to the Public Roads Administration’s decision that New Year’s Day is valid and approved even though it is not” he mumbled unable to disguise his failing KPI goal of contributing so and so much to the state treasury. So I got a letter concluding that I was entitled to a 1000 Euro refund! I have yet to see the money; payments from the treasury