Sold alongside the V8, the GT3 S was a model sold in Australia between 1997 and 1999, combining the mechanicals of the S4S with the updated GT3 interior features like the driver's side airbag, removable roof panel and a six-speaker CD system. Only five of these cars are believed to have been manufactured for Australia and with a list price of almost $170,000 it's hardly surprising few were sold in Australia.
The GT3 S (Speedmaster) is released as a clubsport style vehicle with many creature comforts removed to minimise weight. This vehicle is based on the now discontinued 224kW Esprit S4s model. Standard equipment that remains in this lightweight version includes: ABS, driver's airbag, central locking, air conditioning, leather trim, the Alpine sound system including the CD player, a tilt removable roof panel and integrated front fog lamps. The GT3 S is fitted with a body kit including wheel arch extensions and a bold rear spoiler. The alloy wheels used are supplied from OZ Racing. The GT3 S is available in three colours and is limited to 15 Australian deliveries. Of these, five will be finished in each available colour: yellow, red or black.
Unveiled in 1987, the Peter Stevens redesign of the venerable Lotus Esprit saw the mid-engined rocketship's sharp edges softened, the interior revamped and the mechanical specification improved. Indeed, the Esprit was now a genuine supercar contender, with over 160 mph available from the Special Equipment model of 1989, largely thanks to the adoption of a water to air intercooler on the 2.2-litre four.
In 1993, Lotus further updated the Esprit with exterior styling by Julian Thompson. Relatively minor changes to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and a new wheel design were nicely resolved and the Esprit's dramatic styling was suitably updated for a new decade.
It wasn't until 1995 that the mechanical specification came in for change, when the S4 was replaced by the S4S; power jumped to 300 bhp, with 290 lbs/ft of torque on tap. To achieve these figures, Lotus made changes to the cylinder head, enlarged the inlet ports and fitted updated an updated ECM and Garret AiResearch T3/60 turbocharger. This added up to serious on road performance, with 0-60 mph dispatched in a mere 4.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 168 mph, impressive numbers in anyone's language.
Equally impressive was the handling, with a 0.91g figure achieved on the skidpan. The S4S was distinguished by the larger rear wing from the Sport 300, new OZ five-spoke alloy rims and Brembo brakes and has the distinction of being the end of the line for the four cylinder Esprit. Despite its age, The Autocar magazine loved the new Lotus, concluding with the comment "...the Lotus Esprit S4S is, for the moment, the most complete British sports car - period".
Lotus Esprit Australian GT3S
by Lotus Cars Ltd
Five 4 Cylinder cars were built during the time of the European GT3 that were destined for Australia (Monarch Motors).
As the GT3 only had European Type Approval Lotus could not send a conventional GT3. Only the S4 & S4s were Type Approved for Australia so S4s spec cars had to be built. Lotus think the GT3S was a Marketing name for the cars in Australia. They were S4s Spec Cars with the updated interior from the GT3 which was what was being built on the production line so no new parts were required.
5 4 Cylinder Cars went to Monarch Motors (Australia).
3 went in Feb 1997
2 went in Nov 1997