Custom 1977 Lotus Esprit is a British wedge Jay Leno can appreciate
In the latest installment of Jay Leno’s Garage, a father and son stop by the shop with a bright yellow 1977 Lotus Esprit. Far from stock, this ‘70s wedge has lots of little touches from many years of fabrication and custom work.
One thing it doesn’t have, however, is a well-broken in odometer. Having covered just 19,500 miles from new, Detlef Claudius and his son Jason have pored over the details and made this Esprit an example of what the best would look like. Their website, Lotus Prepared by Claudius, sells parts and services for Lotus cars ranging from Elans to V-8 Esprits.
The 1977 Esprit would have originally been optioned with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 140 horsepower. That changed after Detlef acquired a 2.2-liter turbocharged engine from an S2 Esprit. Warmed over with new pistons, connecting rods, intercooler, and Electromotive electronic ignition, it retains the stock Dellorto carburetors. After the modifications, a trip to the dynamometer revealed an even 300 horsepower.
There are little touches throughout the car that might confuse an Esprit enthusiast. The four-lug wheels are unique to the naturally aspirated cars, as the turbocharged models received five lugnuts from the factory. The rear fascia was set into place with fiberglass and the license plate opening narrowed to fit a standard U.S. plate rather than the wider European plate.
When Jay takes the car for a drive, the turbocharger’s whistle sounds off proud. 300 hp of motivation is less than the later 350-hp V-8 Esprit, but the four-cylinder has the weight advantage on top of the undeniable cool factor. Colin Chapman would be proud.