Father Son Road Trip to Portland to buy a Lotus Esprit Turbo SE

Father Son Road Trip to Portland to buy a Lotus Esprit Turbo SE


Recently for my Birthday, I flew my Dad and I out to  Portland, Oregon to buy a 1990 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE and drive it down to Los Angeles.  The seller Morgan picked us up at the airport and drove us to his 19 acre ranch south of Portland.   Not only was he raising horses and had a riding stadium but he also had a huge garage with a lift.  Great setup !   Unfortunately, we arrived around 6 pm so it was already dark but I could tell the car was well kept and in good condition.   We first looked the car over and started the car while we continued the inspection.


Above is the first look at the car as we walked into this garage.  The paint was in good condition.  The sunroof was solid and not the glass sunroof that I thought all 1990 esprits came with.  I am going to source a glass sunroof when possible.  The wheels are from a later esprit which are popular but I am going to source the original stock 15 and 16 inch wheels.  I prefer originality on these appreciating classics.   Its hard to believe these cars are 28 years old now!

Above The front was in excellent condition.  There was no sign of damage or any other glaring issues.  The spare tire looks to be original and unused.  The tool bag doesnt look like its ever been opened or used.  Everything looks nice and clean here.


Above:   I was impressed by the interior leather condition for a 28 year old car.   The dash and seats were in excellent condition.    Usually Esprits have seat bottoms with sagging leather.  This particular car had none of that.   The original Sony radio was replaced with a Sony radio.  I have sourced another Sony Radio that will go into this car.



Above:  The seller agreed to put it on his lift to inspect underneath for any previous damage.


Above:  Looking underneath the car, I was happy to get a closer look at the catalytic converter.  Before flying up I made sure the cat was still intact.  I could confirm it was the OEM factory cat with number plate which is necessary for emissions testing in California.


Above:  It has an aftermarket exhaust made by Magnaflow and has a nice deep sound without being obnoxious.


Above:  This is also a 50 state legal car so I am 90% confident this will be ok to register in California



Above: The tailights on the Lotus are sourced from Toyota.


Above:  After we finished the lift inspection, the seller took me for a test drive.  It drove and handled great but when we got back to the garage, there was coolant leaking on to the floor.  The larger cap to the right is called a blanking cap and was leaking due to an old rubber seal.  The rubber seal literally fell apart so we decided to call it a night and source one tomorrow morning.  It should be easy to find at any British mechanic garage or the local auto parts store.  So we thought…  Morgan was kind enough to let us borrow his Mitsubishi Montero to drive to our hotel.



Above:  It was after 9 pm by the time we called it quite on the Lotus , so we decided to get some dinner before going to our hotel.  This restaurant in Wilsonville was all we could find and it was surprisingly good.  We were so hungry!


Above:  This is the folder of the entire history of the Esprit.  All the repair invoices and other documentation.  I spent another hour reviewing the documents before passing out.


Above: Day 2, We woke up early and I took my dad to downtown Portland for breakfast at Mother’s Bistro.  Food was delicous!  Today’s goal is to find a new blanking cap so after breakfast we went to The Jag Shop.   There are a well known British car shop but unfortunately they did not have the cap.   We could not find the blanking cap anywhere.  Apparently its not your standard cap size.   We were hoping to start the drive down to LA today but without a new blanking cap we are stuck.


Above:  After unsuccessfully finding a blanking cap, we drove back to the seller’s farm so we could try a high temp sealant.  Morgan applied the sealant and let it sit for 4 hours and gave us the rest of the day to explore Portland.  Again, I have to thank him for trusting us with his Montero.



Above:   Since we are free to hang out for the day,  we went to the Ron Tonkin Ferrari which is the oldest Ferrari dealership in the USA.


Above:  On the lift is a low mileage Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta in white.  I believe the sticker price was $400,000 new but the dealer is asking $700,000 USD due to its rarity.


Above:   a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa Flying Mirror.


Above:  From the dealer’s personal collection, a 328 GTS in pristine condition.  Not for sale.



Above:  The seller ordered a new blanking cap from a Lotus Parts Shop in California and was having it overnighted the next day.  In the meantime, he applied the high temp sealant on the existing blanking cap and test drove it 4 hours later.  He called us to report there was no leaking so we had an option to pick up the car that night or wait until tomorrow for the new blanking cap.   We decided to wait until morning.


Above: Day 3.  We arrived early at the farm to warm up the Esprit and test for any leaks.   While we were waiting the blanking cap arrived so we were ready to start our road trip down to Los Angeles.   Since the high temp sealant was working we decided to leave it and inspect it every few hours.  If it starts to leak , we can always use the new blanking cap.  We filled up the Montero, thanked Moragn, and parked it in front of his garage.   We were just about ready to head south.

Above: We were forced to pack light and it was still a tight fit in the trunk.  All we had were 2 bags and a box of oil , coolant, and rags just in case we have an issue on the road.


Above: leaving the farm to start our father son road trip.


Above: Since we spent the weekend with my sister in San Francisco, I decided to make a day trip to go take a look at a 1983 Euro 500 SEC with an AMG Body Kit.

Above: This 1983 Euro 500SEC was ordered with a blue cloth interior.  It is a 1 owner car.  What I particularly like is the sound system which consists of the Clarion G80.  AMG was known to install these custom systems into their customer’s cars.


Above:  The driver side euro headlight lens is broken.  I am going to have a tough time finding one of these.


Above:  What a beautiful drive.

Above:  This is sister’s view from her balcony.  Not a bad way to have dinner at sunset.

Above:  We left San Francisco to continue our drive down to Los Angeles.   We decided to take the 101 down the coast which was beautiful.


Above:  Back in Los Angeles and I am getting the brakes bled and the clutch fluid as well.  Brake pads were good.  The car is surprisingly very fast.  This car has a window sticker showing that it costs $88,000 USD in 1990.  Wow!  To put that in perspective, a Mercedes 560SL was $55,000 USD.


Above:  I took it for a smog check.  One of the reasons I bought this car was because it had its oem catalytic converter and also confirmed it was a California Emissions Car.

It passed smog with flying colors.   I then had to get a DMV inspection on the car so that I could get it ready for registration.


Above:  Back home and safely put away in the garage.   Next step is to wash it and get it ready for a good detail and wax.   That was a great week long road trip with my dad!  We loved every minute of it.

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