Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we hit the archives and take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Dean Meeson’s modified 1981 Lotus Esprit S3 from back in 2012…
About 30 minutes ago I was in the cinema eating popcorn and enjoying the latest Bond film, Skyfall. In it, Bond’s most iconic car, the Aston DB5, makes a mini comeback. But for us the best car he’s ever had was the white Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me. Why’s this relevant? Well it was from watching that film that Dean Meeson’s love affair with the Lotus started.
Many years on, as a birthday present to himself, Dean finally got his hands on the iconic British supercar: “After working in Sierra Leone for 18 months, and as my 30th birthday was coming up I wanted to buy something special and nostalgic,” says Dean.
“The missus was shocked and a little bemused when I rocked up on the drive with the Esprit, or ‘the Wedge’ as she calls it. Needless to say, it’s grown on her! I’d looked at three cars that day; a brown Mk.1 Golf Cabby, a TVR 350i and the non-running Wedge. Even though it had issues, it also had potential. A deal was done and six months later
it looks how it does now.”
The Esprit is loaded in the looks department. It’s a bit like Kate Middleton really – a natural beauty who’s blessed with some of the sexiest lines you’ll see in Blighty. With this in mind Dean didn’t need to do much. “I knew straight away what I wanted to do with the car. The shape is perfection in my eyes, so there was no point in adding anything.”
Besides most of its looks are enhanced by the car’s low stance, coming courtesy of an air-ride system. This wasn’t initially done for the looks though. “There was room for bigger rims and lows, due to the huge tyres and massive arch gap. The only problem was getting on my drive, that’s where the air-ride came in,” explains Dean. It’s not like putting air on a Mk.5 Golf though, because funnily enough there isn’t an off the shelf kit for a 1981 Lotus Esprit.
But Dean spoke to both AccuAir and RideTech and with a few calculations and measurements he put in his order and went to work fabricating the new suspension set up. Once it was on Dean could enjoy his hard work. “I was a big sceptic of air suspension but I’ve got to say, get it right and it’s plush as you like! It’s got to be good if the missus notices, huh?”
The wheels tucked up the retro arches are 16-inch Compomotive CXN and are a whole 10-inches wide at the back. Couple them with the lows and the light blue hue and you’ve got one awesome looking car!
But what about the purists? Some might say it’s a sin to modify something as iconic as the Esprit, but Dean has that covered too. “It gets mixed opinions from the purists. I can understand where they are coming from, and if the car was standard when I bought it, I would have thought twice about modifications. However 10 years ago the colour was changed and the side trim was deleted, so out came my tools.” Dean continues:“I have fabricated everything with ‘back to standard’ in mind, even the air system is removable.”
So there you have it, one of the best looking but simplest cars we’ve ever featured in FC. Bond’s Esprit might be able to go underwater and shoot rockets out of its arse, but we’d rather roll in Dean Meeson’s chassis-scraping modified Lotus S3 any day.
TECH SPEC 1981 LOTUS ESPRIT
Deleted side trim.
2.2 Lotus 912 engine; twin Dellorto DHLA 4SE carbs; Magnecor leads; K&N filter; stainless exhaust.
Compomotive CXN 8×16-inch (f), 10×16-inch (r) split-rims, powder coated in Gunmetal grey; 195/40×16 (f) and 225/40×16 (r) Toyo Proxes tyres; 25mm (f) and 40mm (r) spacers; AccuAir VU4 block 3/8 lines with twin VIAIR 400c compressors, 5-gallon black anodised tank; RideTech double convoluted single adjustment shocks; custom lower control arms; modified upper control arms; polybushes all round.
Nardi 300mm steering wheel; brushed nylon trim; leather seats.
To Komatsu Redditch for the shoot location; Lotusbits, SJ Sportscars.
Words Slim Jules Photos Dan Pullen