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You Can Buy This Lotus Esprit for Just $17,000 -- But Should You?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2017

If you're interested in getting a cheap Lotus Esprit, well, here's your chance. This 1988 Lotus Esprit, listed for sale by a private seller in Las Vegas, is the single cheapest Esprit on Autotrader: It's offered for just $17,000.

Before I dive any deeper into this, I know what you're thinking: Isn't it a bad idea to buy an Esprit? Isn't reliability a huge concern with the Esprit? Or any 30-year-old British vehicle being sold for the price of a used Corolla? Isn't there some distinct possibility it could catch on fire, or at least leave you stranded, at any moment?

Well, fear not, because this ad addresses that. The first four words of the listing are "Very, Very, Very Reliable." The advertiser also notes that this Esprit recently had an engine rebuild, and that he would "drive it cross-country, any and every time, at the drop of a dime."

With that out of the way, some particulars on this Esprit. It's a 1988 Turbo model with a whopping 58,600 miles on the odometer -- far more than average for a typical Esprit. From the Carfax report, it appears this Esprit was sold new into Delaware, then registered in Michigan before the current owner in Nevada bought it in 2006. It's also worth noting the Carfax report shows 59,400 miles in 2010, which is more than the current odometer reading in the ad.

So this car may have some questions, but it's also monstrously cool -- and monstrously cheap. The Esprit certainly didn't have the performance of an '80s Lamborghini, but it had the looks, with its low body, its wide stance, its wedge shape and its flat windshield. In Turbo guise, like this one, it also made 215 horsepower -- reasonable given its size, and capable of propelling the car from zero to 60 in around 5.2 seconds.

Admit it: You kind of want an Esprit. You especially want an Esprit for $17,000.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
You Can Buy This Lotus Esprit for Just $17,000 -- But Should You? - Autotrader