When asked “what’s your favourite Bond film” my answer is “I don’t have one”. When asked “what’s one of your favourite Bond films” I might may say For Your Eyes Only. It’s not a very good Bond film, really – the action is slow paced, the dialogue is often corny and stilted, but it’s somehow warming and familiar as an old security blanket. And it’s got a pretty good car in it.
The Esprit Turbo in FYEO plays a pretty minor role. In its white incarnation it has about five seconds of screen time before being blown to smithereens. It later appears in bronze metallic, with a pair of Olin Mk VI skis on the roof, and we only see it as it pulls up to a halt as a convenient spot for Ferrara the Italian spy to get murdered.
So, one of the least significant Bond cars in living memory? Of course, I had to own it.
I’ve actually owned this for about twelve years, bought on a family trip to the Lake District. Back then, AUTOart models were way less expensive than they are now, and this one had clearly been in stock for quite a long time. I recall that there were several I could have chosen from in the store, including the far more historically significant white Spy Who Loved Me Esprit, but I somehow imagined that this one might eventually become the rarer of the two.
On top of the fact that I inordinately appreciate the film, The Esprit has always been towards the top of my ‘fantasy wedge’ list. There was a gold Esprit Turbo that lived in my tiny home town when I was of tricycle-riding age. I always remember seeing its quad pop-up headlamps for the first time.
That makes the lack of functional pop-ups on the AUTOart rendition rather disappointing, but that’s one of very few gripes that can be levelled against this model. I believe that the proportions are bang on – the flat, angular form is well observed and the light falls on it in all the right ways. The paintwork is lustrous without looking unrealistically thick. The wheels and white-lettered tyres are nice, and the wheels are terrific, although there are no lovely discs and calipers like on newer models from the brand.
Actually, pop-ups aside the rest of the lighting on the Lotus isn’t too hot either. The lower auxiliary lights are a little two-dimensional, as are the rears (although the colouring is right) and the side repeater indicators are just painted on.
The mid-mounted Lotus 910 engine is concealed beneath a (very loose) cover beneath the opening hatchback, which also covers a flock-lined load compartment. The engine appears to be the right shape, but its ancillaries didn’t get anything like the attention of more recent AUTOart releases.
The same goes for the content of the frunk – which may be why I didn’t bother photographing it.
For what it’s worth, the skis look absolutely fantastic.
There’s not much wrong with the carpeted, accurately portrayed interior, though. They’re a bitch to photograph – at least with my old D50 and its wildly inappropriate lens – so you’ll have to take my word for it. The HVAC controls are individually moulded and correctly labelled, the dials are inset into their background and their graphics are recreated in minute detail. Points deducted for no seatbelts, though.
The AUTOart Esprit S2 is an old model, and that works against it. However, it’s the only 1:18 Esprit S2 you can get, and it’s still bloody good at the end of the day.
If you’re a fan of Giugiaro’s geometric ’70s and ’80s forms, of the output of Colin Chapman and his cohort, or of the hammy acting of Roger Moore in one of the least distinguished 007 outings of all time, it’s a model that deserves to be in your display cabinet.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)