Since the appearance of the DB5 in Goldfinger (1964), Aston Martin made regular visits to the James Bond series. The DBS was there in 1969, the V8 in 1987, then the DB5 again in 1995, and so on. But there was one British icon that made Bond look away from the Aston Martin (at least for a short while), and it was called the Lotus Esprit.

Launched in 1976, the Esprit stood for everything Lotus Cars represent — a sports and racing car with lightweight design and extraordinary handling characteristics. The British automotive company from Norfolk did the job so well on the Esprit that the Bond franchise featured it in two of its movies (one year after another).

What was so special about the 1976 Lotus Esprit that it appeared one year later in the movie The Spy Who Loved Me? Why is this sports car still remembered and loved today, almost five decades later?

The answer to these questions lies in the best feature of the Lotus Esprit — its design. Continue reading our break down to learn why the Esprit is a real masterpiece from the '70s.

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The Sensational Design As The Best Feature Of The 1976 Lotus Esprit

The 1976 Lotus Esprit.
Via: Lotus Media

The Lotus Esprit was something different in the '70s thanks to the polygonal "folded paper" design of Giorgetto Giugiaro. But we'll cover the Esprit history later on. When it comes to the design, Esprit offered exceptional agility. It wasn't all about the looks. With the body that weighed less than a ton, the vehicle met the rivals head-on.

Indeed, the Esprit wasn't equipped with the best specs. The four-cylinder engine produced only 160-hp. Although Lotus marketed it for reaching 60 mph in around 6.8 seconds, that extended to eight seconds in reality. With the Ferrari 308GTB, the Porsche 911 Carrera, and the Lamborghini Urraco P300 all having V8 engines at the time, Lotus fell behind.

Nevertheless, the sleek design was the big advantage of the 1976 Lotus Esprit. The small engine and the lightweight design, including the backbone chassis and the glass-fiber body shell, made the Esprit highly competitive. Plus, this British icon came at a more affordable price than its counterparts, selling for about $5,000 back in the day.

So, with the 1976 Esprit, drivers didn't get the best-performing sports car, but they most certainly acquired the one with the sensational design. Surely, the Esprit was not built for daily commutes, but neither were the other sports cars at the time. For pleasure and the track, it was a superior pick, and so thought the entire establishment behind the James Bond franchise.

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A Brief History Behind the 1976 Lotus Esprit

The 1976 Lotus Esprit Submarine Car.
Via: Wikimedia Commons

How did the Lotus Esprit come to be in the first place? Basically, it all started when Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, and Giorgetto Giugiaro, an automobile designer, met in 1971 to develop a successor to the Europa (or the previous project M70). The new model was planned to be similar to the Maserati Boomerang, a concept car of Giugiaro, which pretty much looked like the Esprit.

Allegedly, Chapman wasn't satisfied with the entire project in the beginning and wanted to call everything off. However, when Giugiaro presented a full-size mock-up and received positive reviews, Chapman gave the blessings for the project to continue. So, the first Esprit visited the Paris Motor Show in 1975, and it was known as the Series 1 or S1 Esprit. The production started in 1976.

The development of the initial Esprit continued until 2004. The Series 2 appeared in 1978, the Series 3 and the Turbo in 1981, and the HC Turbo in 1986. All these models offered a little more refined specs but remained quite similar. The big upgrade or revamp happened in 1987 and the following generations of the iconic Esprit, but it wasn't until 20 years passed that this Lotus car got a V8 engine.

Can You Buy The 1976 Lotus Esprit Today?

The 1976 Lotus Esprit.
Via: Lotus Media

The 1976 Lotus Esprit is a rare find today. The Series 1 was made in only about 718 units, which may mean there are not many models left out there in the first place. On the second thought, it's hard to imagine a very few owners of the original Esprit model would give up on their precious gems.

However, if you desperately want to make an Esprit part of your classic car collection, you can always explore some other production years. The newer models are widely available, particularly those from the '80s and above. Still, keep in mind that the price may vary depending on the model's rarity, condition, and similar factors.

The lowest price you can expect to pay for the vehicle is $30,000, but don't keep your hopes up. The Esprit is a spectacular vehicle that is highly favored today, regardless of the production year.

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