The Lotus Esprit Sport 300 was presented to the world public at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1992 as a concept car. For customers that missed out on the very limited production run of X180Rs, the 300 Sport was offered in 1993. It essentially offered the same package as the X180R racecar, which was used very successfully in the American IMSA and SCAA racing series.
Styled by Julian Thompson, the Sport 300 was destined to be sold to just 64 people, at £64,995, that was a whole £18,000 more than an Esprit S4 but still £9000 cheaper than a Ferrari 348tb. But the Lotus was in a different level than a “simple” 348. Its rivals: Porsche 964 and 993 RS, Venturi 400 GT Trophy, Ferrari 348 Competizione and the Jaguar XJ220.
The Sport 300 was therefore taken to stay as close as possible to the race car, only making some concessions due to accomplish road traffic regulations and emissions laws. In that sense, the car was derived from three years experience with the X18OR racer and was suitable for track use itself with the addition of a LotusSport competition pack comprising rollcage, full harness, and tire extinguisher, for which mountings have been provided.
In keeping with the Lotus heritage of competition, the Sport 300 features aggressive yet elegant and essential body modifications, covering a chassis with all the hallmarks of a winning racecar. Extensive use of composites in its construction shaved about 80kg from the regular S4’s 1366kg kerb weight. Torsional stiffness was improved through the use of an engine bay cross-brace, a bonded-in panel where the sunroof used to be and a modified front crossmember and backbone.
Hidden behind the OZ three-piece wheels (front 8.5×16-245/45 ZR and rear 10.5×17-315/35s) were the amazing 327mm ventilated discs at the front and similarly specified 280mm discs at the rear. Four-piston AP Racing calipers do the grabbing and are supplemented by a Delco ABS lilA anti-lock system.
The engine remained the same 2174cc twin-cam 16-valve of the S4, but here it’s breathed on by a hybrid Garrett T3/T4 turbocharger that inhales through a more efficient chargecooler. Inside, the inlet valves are larger in diameter and their ports are hand finished. Recalibrated engine management, a little more boost and 98-octane unleaded releases 305hp at 6400rpm. With its 139bhp per litre, the power-to-weight ratio takes the same potency as the exclusive Porsche 911 (964) Turbo 3.6.
With only 64 units produced, its the rarest Esprit ever made, a race car for the road. Is near impossible to find one for sale, but prices move between 65.000€ to 100.000€, that is cheaper than 964RS and 993 RS, for a car that is more exclusive and at the same performance of that Porsches. A real bargain if you could buy one, because you are buying a piece of art.