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The Esprit was launched at the 1975 Paris and London auto shows and went into production in June 1976. These first Esprits eventually became known as S1 (or Series 1) Esprits. These fiberglass bodied cars were initially powered by the Lotus 907 4 cylinder engine previously used in the Jensen Healey. The engine displaced 2.0 liters, produced 160 bhp in European trim (140 bhp in US/Federal trim), and was mounted longitudinally behind the passengers (similar to the Lotus Europa). The transaxle was a 5 speed unit previously used in the Citroën SM and Maserati Merak; it also featured inboard rear brakes as was racing practice at the time. The series 1 embodied Lotus' performance through light weight mantra, weighing under 1000 kg. The car gained some fame through its appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where it converted into a submarine.

The original Esprit was lauded for its handling and is said to have the best steering of any Esprit. However, it was generally regarded as lacking power, especially in markets such as the U.S. where the engine was downrated for emissions purposes, and Lotus' claim of 0-60 in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph may be thought of as optimistic. Actual road test times indicate a top speed of around 133 mph and 0-60 in 8 seconds. [1]

The S1 Esprit can be distinguished from later Esprits by a shovel-style front air dam, Fiat X1/9 taillights, lack of bodyside ducting, and Wolfrace alloy wheels. Inside the car, the most obvious indication of a S1 Esprit is a one-piece Veglia instrument cluster.







 

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Congratulations, Sean - that's one handsome car! Although it's performance may be at odds with it's styling by today's standards, it wasn't all that bad for that era (the Maserati Merak or Lamborghini Uracco weren't a whole lot faster).
 

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<<...These fiberglass bodied cars were initially powered... >>
It seems that Autoart tried to recreate that body and the model is totally
like plastic and very light. Despite being one of the first Autoart release
it is really well made and I would recommend it, since nowdays became fairly cheap.
Cheers
 

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One thing I forgot to ask when I made the post was: Has anyone been able to remove the engine cover from the rear compartment? I can pop it loose and wiggle it around but the engine is blocking it from coming out. It looks like there is a fair bit of detail under there.

Sean

:edit
Disregard, I found this THREAD where it is discussed. :cheers
 

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The whole engine cover can be removed and totally detached. The engine is fairly well detailed (concerning the age of model). It is not easy but one has to detach the small hook that keeps the cover at the floor of the hood. Releasing it the cover is set free and can be easily repositioned.
 
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