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Paul Godfrey's 1976

Paul Godfrey from Weston Super Mare, UK, owns a 1976 Esprit S1 in White, with a Magnolia leather interior.


Year: 1976
Colour: White
Interior: Magnolia Leather
Driving Style: Normal, faster round tight corners
Miles per year: 3,000
Owned Since: August 1984
Purchase from: A nervous wreck of a man from a place called Hoo
Serviced at: I service it myself but when I need professional work I take it to SJ sportcars
Other Cars: Landrover Discovery
Previous Lotus': None
Why an Esprit: I think I saw an esprit at a set of lights and it took my breath away, I was hooked.
Upgrades: Oil cooler, s/s ex, engine bay cooling fans, immobiliser, central locking, new rad, manual override on rad fans, mp3 player, new boot and bonnet carpets, S3 lights and S3 light hinges also all chrome work and badges are new.
Problems: In the early days it overheated, new rad sorted it, also a new distributer fitted and the coil was fried. ok now.
Info: See below


I smashed up my RS2000, not my fault and received small compensation, looked in ex and mart and all I could afford was an S1. Phoned up and agreed to see it up at Gatwick. My Dad took me up in his Jag XJ6, met the chap @ the agreed lay bye, boy was it rough seats ripped, brown interior now green and ripped, doors dropped, ultra corroded alloys, a bit of white paint work in between the star cracks etc. " lets take the car for a spin" I said, so we bump started it (you guessed it the starter was shot) and up the road we went. "Is it supposed to have no oil pressure?" I said, "er, yes he said", "is it supposed to run that hot?", "er yes" he said, they all run like that It's a Lotus! ( I didn't know, all I wanted was my Esprit).

You also have to imagine that when we took the car for a drive, this guy hated this car, he had white eye, the same expression as a person would have when you realise you have just run out of air at 50m underwater. So anyway, we did the deal. Paid just over £4, 000 for it and went on our way. When we handed over me money this guy was literally shaking, having owned it for over 20 years I know why.

The journey home it over heated twice, followed dad all the way back from London, got to the long straight before home, I thought lets see what a Lotus truly goes like?. You have imagine this, 1 mile of straight road next to the railway in the country side no one about. Ok here we go, pull up, get in the Jags slip stream, dip the clutch, rev drop down 2 go like hell, get level with dad and you guessed it BANG! the car grinds to a halt. Dad unaware of any thing. Luckily we had tow rope, the distributer has disintegrated, tow in number 1.


The distributer was held in by a clamp which was very weak, so if you accelerated hard it would pop out therefore if I take it steady it should be OK. Easier said than done breakdown no: 2, 3, 4 and 5. For some reason my friend Shaun Kelly would always be outside his amusement arcade the Silver Dollar on Regent St as my dad towed me home. I used to wave, he waved back, I think that he thought the car had no engine and we just towed it everywhere.

New distributer fitted cured the problem. The next fault was my inexperience. There I was one afternoon looking at the engine as you do and I noticed a slight nick in the cam belt. OK I thought get that sorted in a week or two. Knowing what I know, I would have changed it straight away and praised the god of cam belts that it was still in one piece. But I didn't.

Driving along Regent Street the car ground to a halt, bugger, I thought my new distributer has popped out. Pulled over lifted the engine cover off with the help of a few passers by, hopped in the bay and checked the dist, it was ok, you guessed it no cam belt, no trace of cam belt, I think it went to cam belt Hell. Dad can you tow me back the belts broken, er no not the fan belt the other one with the teeth on, where am I? er Regent Street, near the silver Dollar, see you later.

Fast forward a bit, took the car to a local garage, they charged a fortune and messed it up, oil leaking into the water . We took the engine out and fixed it ourselves. New liners, rings, bearings etc. Put it back in, turned it over and then took it back out again. I had put a gasket on the valve carriers where there was silicone before, it was 10 thousands too thick and held the valves open! You live and learn.

One good thing came out of the engine repair was that I met my wife! She had always liked Esprits so my neighbour brought her round one eve. I can remember it well, as usual I was in the engine bay, I had green track suit on and was listening to Shalamar on the cassette. Our first date was no better, arranged to pick Sue up to play squash in the evening, got there late and usual Lotus let me down, Mk 1 escort estate to the rescue.


Once we had ironed out all the problems the car settled down nicely and has been reliable for the last 50, 000 miles. The secret to successful running of any Esprit is pre maintenance, change the uj's every 2 years regardless, listen to noises, if you have a feeling something is not right you can bet your bottom dollar you are right, use as often as you can the car will be much better for it .


My dad hates to drive the Esprit, with all the trouble in the past and not being able to see out the rear and awkward to get in and out of the thought of driving it fills him with dread. Well one day my mother wanted to go and look at a horse for sale, guess what car was only available, you guessed right  the S1. Reluctantly they set off down the motor way, it was warm and sunny . On route every thing was fine, not too much talking just monitoring gauges and praying. Suddenly dad checked the rear view mirror and to his horror the engine bay was full of smoke, he screeches to a holt on the hard shoulder both mum and dad jump out only to discover that the rear glass has misted up (I forgot to tell him that the rear screen leaked).

Panic over continue journey. When nearly there mum directed dad up the wrong drive. OK no problem just lift the gear stick it in reverse, but dad and reverse gear have never hit it off, he lifts, he twists, he pulls he pushes it will not go in, one almighty lift and the dam gear stick breaks off in his hand, obviously he wasn't praying enough. Luckily the house owner was helpful and between them both they managed to wedge it back in and have the use of forward gears. To this day he has not driven it again.


One last piece of interesting info. I did not realise that the car is the first Esprit to be fitted with a turbo and was extensively written about by all of the car mags at the time (600 LOT, I would love to trace the whereabouts of that plate). I wrote to Bell and Colvill and they kindly wrote back to me telling me that 600LOT was there first development car and it would be fair to say that all the publicity caused by this car that it made Lotus sit up and think this is the way forward, developing there own in mid 1980, makes you wonder.


Also you might like to know I bought the car in August 1984 so it was 7 yrs old, rough as a badgers arse and get this it had 9, yes 9 previous owners!

Documentary Filming @ Bell & Colvill

A few weeks before Christmas Alan Patterson kindly asked me if I would like to do some filming of my S1 for his DVD on the Esprit,which I was keen to do .Then to put the icing on the cake, he then tells me that he has contacted Bell & Colvill and would love to be part of the interview and could I bring the back to the garage.

I could not believe my ears, I have always wanted to visit the Bell & Colvill garage and have thought that they would not be interested, how wrong I was. Setting off one frosty Sat morning from Weston s Mare, full tank of fuel and a polished esprit, I had wished for one thing, a dry day and I got one, dry and sunny all day. As usual the car went like a dream, I was really chuffed as this was going to be my last trip before I was going fit a new motor and completly recondition the rear end.

Arrived at B&C on time and was greeted with a coffee From Scott the sales manager who was an Esprit enthusiast, he showed me a picture of when he was young, when he was sat in an Esprit S3 at the motor show. Behind his desk was a lotus montague see photo in which my car was in when they owned it .Scott showed me a scrap book containing some press release photos of my car in turbo form, there were snippets from magazines and papers from all over the world, I was amazed!


The show room was removed of the new Lotus cars and we then reversed my car in and put my original 600LOT plates on for the photo shoot. Alan wanted to give the effect that we were in 1977 and had  the enginers managers son to look around the car giving it the wow factor, I think he liked it.

After I gave an interview on my car which hopefully you will see on the DVD. I told some of my stories in a humerous way, Alan said tell some thing positive to which I replied, "I still got it 20yrs on, you can't get more positive than that"! Mr Bell and Mr Colvill were very pleased that I made the trip back to there garage and were on hand to do some interviewing, they made me very welcome all day and said that if I was passing always call in.

Many thanks to all at Bell & Coalville and also to Alan.


Engine Rebuild

The old engine had now done 92,000 and was due a major re build,bearings knocking,no oil pressure @70mph and oil in the water I think a rebuild was due . To be fair the engine was be reliable for 60,000 miles not bad!

To cut a long story short I purchased an engine locally from an S1, the chap had fitted a new 210 hp engine because the old engine used to steam up the boot glass,on removal he found out it was a split hose.He said that the engine had been fully rebuilt and was probably about 190hp.


The engine was removed after Christmas, the first thing we found was pebbles in swinging arm support under the gear box. These  must have been when 5th gear borrowed it for a James Bond Special a few years ago.

With the old engine out the new engine was worked on, this is what I had done:

also all the small jobs,new clutch pipe etc


The car is now running the best it has ever run, the engine is much more powerful and also perfect oil press in fact it is like new.

In the summer (2206) I took my car to Powderham Castle in Exeter and it was used in the used car road show.They were going to tell me when it was going to be on, they never did, it was only by chance while talking to Ian Heighway that he saw it on tv about a month ago.


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