You may remember the white Esprit driven by Roger Moore in the 1977 James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Not only did he drive it on the road, but he drove it underwater like a submarine, too. Of course, the actual road car couldn't drive underwater, but it was nice to imagine that it did. I also remember there being a toy model version, too, and a friend actually bought one while we were on a day trip in London with the Cub Scouts.
Launched in 1975 at the Paris Auto Show (it went into production the following year) the Esprit featured Italian styling, a French gearbox and British engineering. It also boasted a 2.0 litre, 16v 1973cc engine and had a top speed of 135mph (217 km/h). In 1980 a 2.2 Esprit and Esprit Turbo were launched, with the latter capable of reaching 150 mph and up to 210bhp - standard models were 160bhp.
The sharp lines in the body design looked fantastic in the 70s, but the car was starting to look a little dated by the mid-1980s, especially when compared to a Ferrari 308 or 328. It wasn't until 1988 when these lines were softened with a re-design by Peter Stevens. Personally, though, I much prefer the original 70s models.
1977 Lotus Esprit S1
This replaced the Europa and was produced between 1976 and 1979.
1979 series 2 John Player Special (JPS) limited edition with black and gold colour scheme. Creative Commons photo by Youngtimerclassic
1980 Lotus Esprit S2
Produced between 1979 and 1986. Definitely prefer it in yellow!
This 1980 Lotus Esprit Essex Turbo (S2) features the livery of Essex Petroleum and only 45 were built. These were the first turbocharged esprit's. Creative Commons Photo by Mick
1988 Esprit Turbo S3
US market Lotus Esprit Turbo (1989) which featured a new electronic fuel injection system and a chargecooler (water to air intercooler). Photo by Mr. Choppers.
This slideshow from Flickr starts with a 1991 Lotus Esprit Turbo, followed by a wide range of other cars, although they're not all classics.
Slideshow of the Series 4
80s Cars Main Page
Best 80s Cars
Ford Cars in the 1980s
Alfa Romeo Alfetta
Porsche 911 Turbo