SOLD 12/22

1987 Lotus
Esprit Series III Restomod

Bring a Trailer NO RESERVE auction preview: Very attractive and highly modified example accompanied by copious documentation and extras. Sold as a non-running project.

  • Exterior ColorWhite
  • Interior ColorBlue alcantara
  • Mileage11153 Miles (TMU)
  • Engine2.2L inline-4 turbo
  • Transmission5-speed manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2683


1987 Lotus Esprit S3 Non-Running Project

Exterior Color – White Pearl
Interior Color – Black and Blue leather
Engine – Modified 910 Twin Cam 4-Cylinder
Transmission – ZF Type RBT Synchroma 5DS-25/2 5-speed manual
Current Miles – 11,153 miles indicated (TMU) approx. 35,000 total on car
Current Owner – Purchased May 1990

General Overview

At a critical point in Lotus development the aging Europa needed a replacement. A fateful meeting with Georgetto Giugiaro in 1971, resulted in encouragement to pursue the Italdesign Maserati Boomerang as a starting point for the new concept. Although the design was completed in a timely manner, development lingered until 1975 when the sharply chiseled mid-engine Esprit arrived at the Paris Motor Show. The distinctive design launched just in time to enliven the doldrums of automobile design, giving the Esprit a welcomed boost in sales. In addition to the stunning body design, handling was quite good, however power for the earlier cars was mild, particularly for US models. The S1 (first series) and S2 (second series) cars were developed through 1981, at which point, the S3 arrived with much needed improvements including the Turbo Esprit model. The 1985 model year included improved aerodynamic body changes including rocker panel body work derived from the earlier Essex Turbo Esprit, larger bumpers, wet sump 2.2 Liter Type 910 engine, improved interior with greater head and legroom, as well as convenience and luxury features. The S3 is the final iteration of the original Giugiaro design however this car is a Federal HCi version which was made only for the US markets in 1986 and 1987.

History and Build Details of This Car

This Lotus was built in December 1986, finished in White Pearl with blue leather interior. The current owner purchased the car in May 1990 from Barber Lotus with 1,510 miles. The owner was told the car was a Lotus Executive’s car where it remained on the dealer invoice making the current owner the only owner of record. A highly capable engineer, the owner drove the car for some years before beginning the build. The goal was to build a "factory homologation special" in the vein of an F40 or 288 GTO, much as Lotus might have done, simplifying the car, removing the sound system and AC to provide space in the front for the charge cooler radiator. Skilled in fabrication and fastidious regarding technical details, the project evolved over several decades as documented by numerous photos and detailed description of modifications performed on the car.

The car is geared to top out around 180 mph, and when running 1.5 bar of boost has impressive performance with turbo spool up to at least 120mph. Though 1.5 bar is achievable without detonation, the motor is most effective for durability and longevity running at 1.3 bar. A laptop (included with the car) contains a map with the boost capped at 1.3 bar, which is the boost setting that has run from 1997 to 2014 putting 20,000 miles on the performance-built motor.

Although this car is accompanied by a clean California title, this Lotus is offered as a 49-state car only.

Condition Overview

This is a non-running project that has been the subject of detailed engineering and ongoing development for several years. Though not currently running, a video of the car while driving was taken in May 2022. The car was operational as late as September 2022, when electrical issues were identified, corrected with fresh Tefzel motorsport wire, various terminals replaced, and the car started. Upon later observation, the head was removed, and new QED valve springs were installed by Dan Marvin of Norman Racing. Since that time, the engine has been reassembled but has not been started over the past seven weeks.

The visual condition of the exterior and interior is quite nice with very good white pearl paint finish that is glossy and smooth. The black trim and various carbon accessories are in very good condition as well. The interior has many modifications noted below as does the drivetrain, engine, and numerous selected trim, details, and features throughout the car.

The following is a list of modifications installed on this car.

Body Modifications and Cosmetic Improvements:

• Fender flares changed from concave to convex to gain 1” of additional clearance, body seam and molding removed from flares
• Front inner fender wells modified for greater clearance
• Cibié halogen light conversion; 55/60 low beams, 100W high beams
• Carbon fiber deck lid
• Hood ducted for radiator warm air exit
• SE ducting (inlet and side exits) incorporated into spoiler
• Side marker lights removed with holes filled
• All duct screens replicated with Stainless Steel
• Screens added to holes beneath bumper underside
• Bumpers shortened 21/4” front and 2” rear
• Fuel fillers replaced with Newton aircraft fillers
• Side scoops feeding engine compartment extended 1”
• “B” pillar, quarter window and headlight ABS trim replaced with carbon fiber
• Carbon fiber under tray
• Hand layup radiator ducting and under panels to accommodate relocated radiator
• Battery relocated from rear boot to front storage compartment
• Optima battery fitted to custom fabricated alloy box
• German wool loop carpeting in front and rear trunk areas
• Painted engine components powder coated.
• Rivetnuts replaced with Nutplates wherever possible
• Larger stainless steel striker pins for more secure composite roof latching
• Custom trunk floor – stiffened and modified; coil / relay box eliminated
• Cardboard glove box re-fabricated in aluminum and lined in lambskin
• Font tow hook installed for ease of loading
• Roof and door seals replaced

Wheels and Tires

• Centerlock hub conversion. Custom Three-piece wheels: forged, shot peened with hard anodized centers & polished outers. 17 x 8.5” front and 17 x 11” rear.
• Nitto NT01 tires 235/40-17 F and 315/P35-17 R

Interior and Instrumentation

• Custom instrument pod, center console armrest, and revised dash
• VDO Vision back lit instruments w/ Silvania LED illumination
• Air conditioning and sound system removed, original mechanical vacuum pump removed and replaced with a small electric one which supplies vacuum for the throttle jacking capsule.,
• Heater core eliminated; heater/demister needs satisfied by redirection of radiator exit air
• Separate ducting added for cabin ventilation
• Electric servo controls installed for heater box / ventilation
• Speaker holes blanked off
• Motorized aerial replaced with light weight standard antenna
• New sound deadening installed
• Interior carpeting replaced with Wilton wool
• Incandescent bulbs replaced with LED’s where possible
• “Knee vents” eliminated, water and fuel gauges relocated to center console
• Carbon fiber trim installed in instrument panel, center console, glove box door, door pull trim rings
• S2000 starter button (console mounted)
• S2000 hazard switch
• Sector 111 shift knob
• Alloy gear surround and heater knobs
• Sparco Carbon seats upholstered in leather and Alcântara.
• 340mm Momo D suede steering wheel
• Interior appearance updated and retrimmed in blue and black leather

Engine Features and Modifications

• Cylinder head ported, manifolds and plenum backplate matched
• Cylinders CC'd, block smoothed, complete engine balance and blueprint
• AEM water/methanol injection system fed by a Johnson CMP pump from w/ Vortech 9qt reservoir mounted in the original battery location. 1 liter surge tank, filter, and shut off solenoid to prevent siphoning
• 1" plenum spacer, diffuser opened 6mm and radiused
• Full QED Valvetrain - lightweight steel tappets and springs
• Sport 300 1mm oversize intake valves, billet 420 intake cam
• 104o cam wheels; QED adjustable pulleys as well
• Ceramic coated piston crowns with dry film coated skirts
• Thin wall lightweight wrist pins (- 45g/pin)
• Crower Ti I-beam rods (535g ea.)
• QED nitrated forged steel crank, knife-edged c/wts, lightened and balanced
• Main bearing girdle machined, windage tray perforated and 4130 oil scrapers fabricated to skim oil off crank and redirect to sides of S4 deep sump to minimize windage losses
• Fabricated mousetrap doors in sump
• Oil pump housing lapped to reduce rotor clearance by 0.001" to increase oil flow
• TiAL 40mm wastegate and 50mm BOV
• Fabricated 321 SS wastegate discharge adapter
• Lotus throttle bodies modified to incorporate ball bearings and oil seals
• 14.5V Denso racing alternator relocated and driven off single poly drive belt with water pump
• Remote oil filter, Pre-Luber, and twin 12” oil coolers; oil lines braided stainless
• OEM steel flywheel machined to trigger crank sensor
• Bosch 59 lb/hr injectors (measured at 3bar)
• SX Adjustable fuel pressure regulator set at 4.5 bar (flow increases to 72lb/hr ≈ 760cc/min)
• MoTec M4Pro ECU with Advanced tuning
• Bosch LSM 11 4 wire 02 sensor
• Tilton Superstarter
• GT3071R turbo w/ custom fabricated outlet.
• Custom fabricated “S” compressor discharge
• S4 airbox
• K&N cCotton/gauzefoam panel filter element
• Crankcase breather tank
• Extrude honed and Jet Hot 2000 coated exhaust manifold
• Safety wired engine mounting bolts
• Fabricated tubular intake manifold brace
• J&S Safeguard knock control system w/ Bosch flat response knock sensor
• Race quality throttle cable with swaedged ends and threaded removable segment at throttle body
• All external engine hardware nickel plated

Drive Train

• New RBT (ZF) DS25/2 5 spd with 40% LSD, ratios to order
• AP Racing CP3959-54 hydraulic release bearing fitted to custom machined gearbox front oil seal retainer with braided stainless steel clutch line
• 240mm AP Racing tuning clutch rated at 514 ft-lbs.
• Custom cable shift conversion
• GKN Motorsport TiAlN coated gun-drilled Titanium Aluminum Nitride half shafts
• Lightened and honed CV joints
• Custom made bellhousing


• 3” dia SS 304. Starter cat eliminated. OEM main cat replaced by Random Technologies 300 cell Metal Matrix Race Cat (OEM cat included)
• All wastegate plumbing is 100% stainless steel hardline with custom machined banjos. The wastegate is secured with stainless locknuts and lock plates to prevent the studs from vibrating out
• The stainless wastegate discharge adapter is mounted with ARP stainless studs and silver-plated key nuts with lockplates to prevent studs from vibrating out


• Rubber suspension bushings (incl. radius arms) replaced with NMB SS/Teflon aircraft spherical bearings/joints.
• All rod ends protected by boots, spherical bearings by Seals-it seals.
• Suspension hardware entirely replaced by AN fasteners
• Urethane sway bar bushings
• Front and rear suspension fully adjustable, Front upper A-arms modified for tire clearance and reinforced.
• Koni 3012 double adjustable alloy dampers
• Eibach 2½” springs
• A-arms, upper and lower links nickel plated
• Steering rack mounted in alloy pillow blocks and plastic bushing replaced with bronze, rack repacked in Redline synthetic grease, pinion preload re-shimmed


• 330mm x 28mm drilled, directionally vented rotors on alloy hats – F&R
• AP Racing radial mount 6 pot front and 4 pot rear calipers
• Tilton balance bar – power brake servo eliminated
• AP racing master cylinders F&R
• Ferodo DS2500 pads
• Braided stainless lines
• OMP brake and clutch pedals and fabricated aluminum throttle pedal
• Hydraulic parking brake valve


• Radiator flipped and relocated 7” rearward and upward; automatic air bleed line added
• Wizard alloy radiator 2.25” core, 3” tanks
• Lucas fans replaced with 8 blade pancake fans
• “Otter” switch replaced by VW 2 pole fan switch, 80C
• Single Setrab oil cooler replaced with twin 12” Earl’s coolers relocated to spoiler side ducts
• Bell Intercooler custom chargecooler with three electric pumps (WC Engineering/Johnson Pump)
• Ron Davis Racing Radiators dual pass chargecooler heat exchanger w/ automatic air bleed
• Alloy cooling and chargecooler header tanks, black anodized
• One-gallon fabricated aluminum coolant expansion tank, with sight glass and billet filler neck finished in black powder coat
• Custom charge cooler by Bell Intercooler w/3x the capacity of the Lotus OE unit sized to flow up to 600hp
• Silicone coolant hoses

Included with the car

This Lotus is offered with a Lotus Owner’s Handbook, car cover, various spare electrical parts, tire inflator, battery tender, and a 2 3/4” center wheel hub socket for wheel removal.

Also included with the car are several bins of additional spare parts including numerous books, manuals, and spare materials. A more detailed accounting of spares is listed below.

1. Jugs of coolant and oil, new
2. Front rotor hats, used
3. Various hoses, tubes, new/used
4. Various master cylinder reservoirs, braces, brackets, new/used
5. Shop manuals
6. Various coil packs, plug wires, brackets, new/used
7. Four Lotus factory fender protectors, new/used
8. Various switches, headlight bulbs, foam (open cell pond filter foam which goes behind the carbon fiber B pillar covers) new/used
9. Wiring and related electrical things, new/used
10. Bra, bolts, extra materials, new/used
11. Documentation and manuals
12. Various hoses, pulleys, hardware, used
13. Various hardware, carefully bagged, used/new
14. Gaskets, cams, padding, new/used
15. Headlight bulbs, tooling, gauges, various other extras, new/used
16. Water pump rebuild kit, paperwork folders 1,2,3, interior parts and templates, new/used
17. Leather samples and material, mostly new
18. Carpet samples and extra materials, new
19. Gauge binnacle and other molds
20. Carpet trim, new
21. Bags of hardware, new
22. Injectors, hoses, spark plugs, new
23. Brake discs (2), used
24. CV joints and axles, used
25. Catalytic converter, used
26. Catalytic converter close-up, used

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

Inquire About This Car

Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608