How to spot the difference between the Esprit Turbo and the N/A
In the latter part of 1987, Lotus produced 2 Esprit models, the top of the range Esprit Turbo, at £29,995 and the cheaper Normally Aspirated "Esprit" at £22,995. Both cars, designed by Peter Stevens, are visually indistinguishable to the average Person. So here is a brief guide to spotting the difference between the 2 cars.
The most obvious visual difference was the 1987 Esprit Turbo had grey coloured sills and a lower splitter (painted in Lotus' "Vulcan Grey"), where as the N/A had colour coded bumpers and sills. The Turbo model featured a glass panel between the rear flying buttress on the tailgate, where as the N/A had no glass (just an open back). The Turbo had front fog lamps and an additional internal moulded splitter, the N/A had no fog lamps or internal splitter. At the rear of the car there was a horizontally fretted black plastic panel between the rear brake lights fitted to the Turbo cars, where as the N/A had a plain black panel. There was a metal ventilation grill under the rear bumper, to allow better ventilation for the Esprit Turbo cars. The N/A had 4 lozenge shaped vents cut into the rear lower bumper. Colour coded wing mirrors where fitted to the Turbo cars, where as the N/A had black wing mirrors. Finally the Turbo had a metal badge "Esprit Turbo" on the body work, bellow the rear window. The N/A had a metal badge stuck to the rear windows saying "Esprit."
1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo X180 - Click on image to enlarge
1987 Lotus Esprit Normally Aspirated - Click on image to enlarge
Views from the three quarter aspect
From spring 1988 the Esprit Turbo no longer featured a grey valance and was colour coded to look like the N/A model (The Federal Esprit Turbo continued to feature grey sills until 1989).
These days it may be more difficult to differentiate the models apart, as quite a number of Stevens Esprit's have been re-sprayed and modified with newer alloy wheels (often from the Esprit S4 or S4s), with V8 Esprit wings and bumpers, making identification more difficult.
Lotus Esprit Turbo driving around the Millbrook Proving Ground