Jay Leno drives a modified 300bhp Lotus Esprit

This modified Lotus started life as a 1977 Series 1 car, but now exists as a more extreme Esprit Turbo. It has a couple of gadgets to make 007 jealous too...

The Lotus Esprit is one of the greatest sports cars to come from the UK-based marque. Not only was its Giorgetto Giugiaro designed wedge striking when revealed in the 1970s, but it also went on to become one of the most memorable James Bond cars despite only appearing in two films. Jay Leno goes for a spin in a modified Esprit that has received a few go-faster gadgets of its own.

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A father and son duo brought the vibrant yellow 1977 Lotus Esprit to Leno’s Garage, a car that was bought new and has been kept by the family all of these years. New in ’77 it cost Detlef Claudius $14,500, a price tag that put it in competition with the likes of Ferrari. Today it has still only covered 19,500 miles.

While the car retains its original shade of yellow, it has been extensively modified and features a bodykit similar to that of later Turbo models. The interior has been reupholstered by the owner around five times over the car’s 41 years. Air conditioning was retrofitted to this Series 1 car to help deal with the California sun, a feature that only appeared in Series 2 cars and newer.

Revealed like a 007 gadget, press a button and the engine cover reveals the turbocharged engine from a later Esprit that, after some extensive modification, now produces around 300bhp. On the open road this Lotus apes Darth Vader with its gushes and whooshes from the turbo. The combination of power and lack of mass means that this Lotus is still pretty brisk despite its age.

Jay remarks that the Esprit is a ‘proper '70s car’ and we have to agree. While not original, this restomod Lotus looks great and possesses enough performance to shame a few modern-day sports cars. Its creators paid a lot of attention to detail, so much so that some of the mods could even pass as factory fitted to the uninitiated.

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