The Lotus Esprit Sport 350 Sports Car

A review of The Lotus Esprit Sport 350 Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the twenty sixth model in the Lotus range.

In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Lotus Esprit Sport 350, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the year 1999.

The Esprit Sport 350 was introduced, in 1999, at the NEC Motor Show in Birmingham.

It was conceived as an attempt to ride on the coattails of the Sport 300 and the Esprit V8, with their Lotus 918, 3.5 litre, V8, twin turbocharged engine, using Garrett T25 Turbos, and with multipoint fuel injection.

It had a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 secs, a 0-100 mph time of 9.9 secs, and a top speed of 175 mph.

With adjustments to the engine management system, the lower end torque could be increased.

It was the most aggressive Esprit supercar, being both road going and suitable for the track.

The name Sport 350 came, not surprisingly, from the fact that the engine developed 350 bhp.

However, with the emergence of strict emission control regulations in the US, Lotus was somewhat limited in what it could further achieve, in terms of performance, from the Sport 350. By now, the Esprit was in its twilight years.

The real benefits for the car would come from a racing orientated suspension set up, wider magnesium wheels, better brakes, a carbon fibre rear wing, and a sports interior with lightweight bucket seats.

Although Lotus targeted a production run of only 50 units to keep the model exclusive, in the end, only 47 were actually built.

Furthermore, a limited edition aluminium plaque was fitted to the bottom of the windscreen and in the centre of the dashboard, whilst red camshaft covers replaced the previous blue version.

Curiously, with all that power on tap, it was never fitted with a limited slip differential.

Externally, it differed from the 1998 Esprit V8 SE and GT variants as follows:

  • A newly styled front end
  • Fitting a massive carbon fibre rear wing which was supported by aluminium uprights
  • Special silver paint for the body
  • A silver grille mesh in the lower body openings
  • The low front spoiler was made even deeper so that it was almost touching the ground
  • Both front and side air vents were emphasised in blue
  • Huge “Sport 350” emblems were positioned strategically on each door and on the roof

By fitting OZ Racing Crono Magnesio alloy wheels, this would increase grip and help reduce weight.

Furthermore, these five spoke alloys were known to be the lightest road wheels it was possible to buy.

Rigidity was improved by stiffening the suspension and adding engine bracing.

It was fitted with a Kelsey Hayes anti lock braking system.

Furthermore, to improve the stopping power, it received larger two piece, 320 mm, AP Racing disc brakes all round, which were vented and drilled.

For those requiring a more definitive exhaust note, there was an optional sports exhaust.

The dashboard was made entirely of carbon fibre to minimise weight.

Now that the overall weight had been reduced by around 80 kg, the Sport 350 was the highest performing Esprit to date, with a price tag that was a fraction under £65,000.

These weight savings contributed to it becoming the first Esprit to break the 10 second barrier for the 0-100 mph time.

The stunning Sport 350 sports car was regarded, in many quarters, as the fastest and finest Esprit ever built.

This marked the end of the Lotus Esprit Sport 350

Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:

Which Lotus Sports Car is Your Favourite?

However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Lotus sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1952 to 1996.

I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.

If you would care to view my Original article, containing Photographs, Videos, Technical Data, and Charts not shown in this Article, then please click the following link:

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