Colin Chapman's personal Lotus Esprit, once driven by Mrs Thatcher, is for sale

There are a lot of different elements that contribute to the value, or lack thereof, of vintage and classic cars. Mileage is always a key talking point, and so is condition of course. Rarity and availability are also important and then there's heritage. Who built the car, and what for and who owned it. In this instance, there's a lot on our plate because this is a Lotus Esprit, a rare and prized car, owned by Lotus founder Colin Chapman who used it as his personal car and once driven by Baroness Margaret Thatcher*, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The car was built in February 1981, specifically allocated to Lotus founder and chairman Colin Chapman, and registered to Lotus Cars Ltd in August 1981 (as per copy of V5, chassis number ending 0970). According to a 1986 article from the Grand Prix International, the car was driven by Lotus F1 driver Elio de Angelis in 1981 and, this is a big one, by the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.

In august 1981, when the car hadn't been registered yet, Prime Minister Thatcher was on an official visit in Norwich, specifically at Norfolk Airport, where she was greeted by the Lord Mayor of Norwich and Chapman himself, who'd actually chartered a private jet from Heathrow to Norfolk Airport for Prime Minister Thatcher. Chapman gave Thatcher a tour of his race and road cars and encouraged her to drive his very own Esprit. Which she did. According to local newspaper the Eastern Daily Press, Thatcher loved the experience and was quoted saying the car was ‘lovely to drive’.

The Esprit remained the property of Lotus Cars until 1983, when it was eventually sold to Midland Car Sales of Leicester who sold it just a few weeks later to a private individual, technically its second owner, who kept the car until 2000, when he sold it to another private customer. Between 1983 and 2000, the car was barely used but was constantly taken to Lotus for both ordinary and extraordinary repairs and maintenance work, including MOTs, braking fuel, brakes and clutch maintenance. All bills and receipts are present and accounted for.

Its third owner sold the car again nine years later, in 2009 and its forth owner sold it again in 2010 and then he bought again in 2011. Maintenance and repair bills for these eleven years are also present. In 2011, the car was sold again to the current owner, who's now selling it through Mark Donaldson Ltd in Surrey. The amount of information available on the website about this car is quite frankly unbelievable. Unfortunately I can only afford to buy the scale model but if I were in the market for an Esprit, this would be a strong contender.

The car is powered by a 2.2-litre turbocharged I4, which develops 215 hp and 220 torques, and it is in excellent condition, with around 11,000 miles on the clock. It comes with the original Metallic Silver paint with Full Red Leather interior and inside, you'll also find a Panasonic RM 610 roof-mounted stereo system , power steering, air con and even pollen filters because apparently Mr Chapman suffered from hay fever.

The suspension and the brake pads have been modified but the car still sits on the original BBS alloy wheels. The price is upon application but considering its history, the incredibly detailed documentation and excellent condition, I think we're looking at at 6-figure price tag.

*as far as I'm aware, when a British person is appointed with an official recognition of merit, such as the Order of Merit or The Most Notable Order of Garter, the title becomes an integral part of the person's full name. Which is why, for example, we refer to Stirling Moss (OBE) and Elton John (CBE) as Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Elton John.

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Comments (5)

  • One of the most pristine Survivor Vehicles I've ever seen. And very desirable as all Lotus really are

      7 days ago
    • the information page for this ad was like War & Peace, a thousand million words with every bit of information you could possibly need. Which is just what I'd like, if I were just about to spend a considerable sum on a car

        7 days ago
  • In any well reasoned world, Lotuses , ought to be the most influential automotive engineering ideas like, ever.


      7 days ago