Lotus had always made wonderful sports cars, but until the 80s came around, none that could properly have been called a supercar. This changed with the introduction of the 1980 Lotus Esprit Turbo. Despite having been introduced in 1975, Ital Design’s concept for the car still looked great; scoops and spoilers were added, without ruining the design, and managed to last until 1987. Lotus cars are renowned for their exceptional handling, and the Esprit Turbo was certainly no exception. In this case, it was decided to strengthen the chassis, particularly around the engine, as well as upgrade the steering, brakes and suspension, which proved to be excellent ideas, as the Esprit Turbo “handled like it was on rails”, as Julia Roberts would say in Pretty Woman about another Lotus.
The Esprit Turbo was powered by a inline four-cylinder engine (which many believe should have disqualified it from supercar status), with a 2.2-liter displacement, producing a very convincing 210 horsepower at 6,000 RPM. Matched with a Citroen / Maserati five-speed manual gearbox and trans-axle, it could reach a top speed of 148 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 in only 6.1 second. In order to reduce turbo lag to a minimum, a 8 psi T3 Garrett turbocharger was installed and was mated to a specially-made manifold designed to take full advantage of minimal gas flow.
Despite only having a four cylinder engine, the 1980 Lotus Esprit Turbo was definitely a supercar, by the standards of the day, and a very agile and fun car to drive.