Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?

| 28 May 2020
Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?

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Yes, you read that right.

A 1981 Lotus Esprit Series 3 Turbo that was the personal car of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, is for sale at Surrey-based dealer Mark Donaldson.

The metallic silver car with a red-leather interior was also the first Esprit to be fitted with BBS alloys and, anecdotally, it was driven by then-Lotus Formula One driver Elio de Angelis.

Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?
Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?
Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?

And this car has yet more claims to fame. It was registered on 1 August 1981 and just four days later none other than then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher drove it – of which there is photographic proof (see below).

The Iron Lady was on an official visit to Norwich and the surrounding area and, according to the vendor, Chapman chartered a private jet from Heathrow for her, and gave her a guided tour of the firm’s road and race cars.

As well as driving this Esprit, the vendor reveals Thatcher also had a passenger ride in an Eclat.

Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?
Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?
Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?

Of course, being the boss’ car, this is no ordinary Esprit.

Its factory spec included power steering (unique to this car), air-con and pollen filters, the latter because Chapman suffered from hay fever, and a Panasonic RM 610 roof-mounted stereo system.

The suspension was also lowered and modified, the bodywork was tweaked to cut wind noise, and the brake pads were modified.

Classic & Sports Car – Want to own Colin Chapman’s Lotus Esprit?

Of course, less than 18 months after acquiring this car, on 16 December 1982, Chapman passed away.

By 16 February 1983, the Esprit had covered fewer than 4500 miles, and in its life to date had been maintained carefully by the Factory Service Department.

Today, several owners on, it has only done around 11,000 miles and it’s a complete one-off. The vendor describes it as a ‘time-warp’ car and although no price is given, we suspect that if you have to ask…

Check out the full listing here.

Images: Simon Clay/Mark Donaldson


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