More Light Work Required for My Lotus

Nik Berg

It’s freezing outside and the roads are covered with salt, so my Lotus Esprit is weathering the winter in its underground lair.

The car is currently looking a little perplexed, with one headlamp raised in an appropriately Roger Moore–like manner, which seems to be the result of a domino effect of difficulties that can be traced back to the summer.

The trouble began one sunny day when I opened the hood for a routine check of brake fluid and the driver’s side hinge ripped itself away. Unsurprisingly for a Lotus of its vintage, the fixing is a rather Heath Robinson affair: a slot formed in the fiberglass into which a metal plate is inserted to take three bolts. Mine only had two of these bolts and, perhaps thanks to the rather forceful nature of the gas strut supporting the hood, it tore through the fiber.

With the aid of my EnduroKA racing teammates, Araldite, and various clamps I managed a repair, the trickiest part of which was re-fitting and re-aligning the hood. All seemed fine until a few weeks later when I opened the hood again and it immediately gave out once more.

The good news is that the hood stays closed and doesn’t appear to lift at all, even at speed. The bad news: The repair has now affected the pop-up lights. The Lotus Esprit Group on Facebook informs me that it is possible to hand crank the lights up and down, but unfortunately I can’t open the hood on my own to do it. So the Esprit will be winking until I can get it to a specialist to repair the fiberglass.

Even before the hood hinge failed, the headlamps had been proving troublesome: Though the high beams were fine, the dipped beams randomly switched off. If I held up the column stalk, the lights would stay on, but any release of pressure, and the road ahead would be plunged into darkness. Exciting!

Lotus Esprit column stalk
Nik Berg

With any luck, a dab of deftly applied superglue has now fixed the issue, but I may need to replace the Lucas switch that this Lotus shares with the Morris Marina and Lamborghini Countach. Thankfully, the part is still available—and not at Lambo prices.

On the subject of electrics, there’s a mysterious drain on the battery, so while it’s not in use I’ve disconnected it, but that’s another job to add to the growing list. My weeping rocker covers are a common problem, but apparently there’s a medical-grade rubber gasket that solves the issue. As a service is due, I should be able to fit those when I do an oil change. While its age means the Esprit is exempt from Britain’s annual MOT test, an additional inspection feels like good practice, so that also needs to be booked.

I didn’t put many miles on the car in 2023, but this year my wife and I have a fancy, black tie wedding in France to attend and I’d love to turn up at the château, 007-style, and raise a few eyebrows. I just hope the Esprit is no longer doing the same.




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    I love these earlier Esprits and I hope Mr. Berg is finding his car fun to own, despite it’s Lotus-like misbehavior.

    High pressure gas struts and fiberglass, seems like a truly British match. Ouch, sad that normal hinges and a prop rod (looking at you, my Japanese vehicles) would not be a better solution. Always loved the look of the Esprit, fortunately, fortune never put one in my garage. Absolutely, on the black-tie event!

    So you show up casually late around dusk lights on and blame the parking valet thereafter. I don’t see the problem.

    I have arrived at a black-tie wedding in a Lotus, but it was an Elise in San Francisco. The wedding format looks to be a draw but an Esprit at a chateau will clearly beat me two out of three. So get the car sorted, enjoy your victory and post a follow up with pictures after the event.

    There is a video out there of a trucker ranting about why did they move the high beam switch from the floor to the column. I don’t know if English cars ever had this feature, but it is a solid question. The high beams can be actuated without removing a hand from the shifter or wheel, and it significantly simplifies electronics. It can also be fixed without removing a steering wheel

    As far as pop-up headlights go, I think Porsche got it right in the 944 and probably other models. Both buckets are on a single axle and operated with a single, fairly accessible, actuator

    I liked the arrangement on the ’74 Sonnett (but then I have been a sucker for Saab-isms): To turn on the headlights, you pull a T-handle similar to a dash-mounted handbrake. That is attached to the linkage which raises the pop-up lights. As the linkage goes through its range of motion, it eventually contacts a reed switch — which is what illuminates the lights.

    So once again Saab got it “backwards-right”. Instead of the driver turning on the lights and the car responding by raising them, the driver raises them and the car responds by turning them on.

    I find the floor-mounted dip/highbeam switch on my 1957 Morgan Plus 4 satisfactory and convenient to operate, and quite a bit safer than having to move your hands around or off the steering wheel. Might take a little moment longer to select from high to low beam moving your foot to the switch though.

    The headlamp dip switches are notorious for overheating. I have disassembled them and repaired the leaf spring contacts, and rather than rivet them together, I use small screws and nuts. To reduce the current going through them you might consider relays (if not originally fitted) for the blue with white and the blue with red circuits.

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