James and his Lotus Esprit S4S 2.2 Turbo

Lotus is a brand cemented in Britain’s DNA. Colin Chapman’s mantra of ‘simplify, then add lightness’ is one of automotive legend and still holds true to this day. We first met James at Re:Fuel #001, his bright yellow Esprit stuck out like a cat in a kennels and, as you’re about to see, the passion he holds for the Lotus brand is also cemented in his DNA.

Well where do I begin!  Having grown up with my father working on Lotus cars most of his life you could say I was always going to love the brand and I certainly do. I love the whole ethos that you don’t need loads of power and a massive engine to go fast. 

Heading into Re:Fuel #001

I have always loved the Lotus Esprit and am currently on my second one. The first was a lovely 1988 Lotus Esprit 2.2 HC, one of the first of the newer shape ‘Peter Stevens’ cars, finished in one of the most famous Lotus colours ‘Monaco White’.   After five years with this car it was time for a change, so I put the car up for sale. It was soon snapped up, and I was on the lookout for another one.

As a boy I had a Saturday job at a friends Lotus garage in London.  One of my jobs was to dust down the Lotus Esprit’s and other special cars he had in one of his showrooms.  At the time Lotus were in some financial trouble and he agreed to purchase 19 of the managers cars from the Lotus factory, all were Lotus Esprit S4S and V8 cars.  I remember opening the sliding doors to the warehouse, seeing all those 1995/1996 Lotus Esprit’s and thinking ‘wow’!

One would always stick in my memory, the Esprit S4S in my favourite colour of Norfolk Mustard yellow, with OZ Futura alloy wheels (which are still a pain to clean to this day).  I always said that is the car I would love to own one day.

Well in 2019 that dream came reality and I finally purchased a late 1996 Lotus Esprit S4S in Norfolk Mustard with 47,000 miles from new. My car is one of 92 Esprit S4S cars made for the UK and only 367 made worldwide. Today there are only 62 left registered in the UK.

In my opinion, the Esprit is a very undervalued British supercar. This was a car that, in its day, would keep up with Honda NSX’s. The styling is also stunning, the pop-up headlights being my favourite. The car always gets people talking, they bring up the films they remember seeing the cars in (I’ve watched most of them a million times).

If anyone is in the market for an Esprit, it is always best to do your research as some of the models are harder to look after than others.  If it has a good service history and has been well cared for, then chances are it’ll be a very good car.   I recommend speaking to your local Lotus specialist and using websites like ‘The Lotus Forums’ and ‘Lotus Esprit World’. The Lotus community as a whole is a brilliant and extremely helpful resource as well.

Since owning the car, we haven’t been on many long trips but we have enjoyed lots of drive outs including the first ‘Re:Fuel’ meet.  I have now started a restoration on the car with a full respray, engine and gearbox rebuild, suspension refresh and a lot more upgrades to make the car as best as it can be, whilst maintaining its original charm, character and feel.

Pre Respray
Post Respray

I am hoping to have the car finished in the next couple of months, with time to run in the engine and gearbox and iron out any little issues.  

Fresh Engine Rebuild

Well I hope you like my story, you will definitely see us at Re:Fuel, around Cornwall and Devon.  Please feel free to come over and have a chat if you have any questions.

James Webb – Southwest Lotus Centre

Car Facts

Make: Lotus

Model: Esprit S4S 2.2 Turbo

Year: 1996

Engine: 2174cc

BHP: 300bhp factory

Top Speed: 172mph

0-62MPH Time: 4.6 sec

Weight: 1460kg Kerb weight

Additional Mods: Rebuilt fully balanced engine, Kent Vernier’s, RC uprated injectors, K&N Filter, uprated Hybrid Turbo charger, Alunox Tubular Manifold, Sports Cat, Sports exhaust, Sport 300 Dampers with springs, Alloy Fuel tanks, larger Alloy radiator, electric charge cooler pump and a few more upgrades.