by Graham Elliot
Well just back from the Stelvio 2004 trip which was the best holiday I have had in years. A weeks really fast driving on the best roads in Europe with some excellent company. This year it was nice to see the Esprit contingent doubled from the 2 last year to 4 this year, so thanks to the other Esprit drivers we managed to have my SE, a GT3, an S4 and a V8 on show.
The trip started on Friday the 10th with a drive to Reims to meet up with the main UK party and some friends from last year, Saturday morning saw the official start at the old race park pits (see photo), from there the Dutch party that I was travelling with headed to Solder in Austria for our second night and then onto Bormio for the Sunday overnight stop. Unfortunately I lost reverse gear in Solder, not sure what the problem was. Monday we had a late start and headed up the Stelvio for the annual meet at the top and this year was the best. I had a point to prove, I wanted to show the Elise guys that the Esprit is just as quick up the twisty windy pass, so blasting past two at the bottom to catch up with the fastest Elise and staying with him all the way was great fun, sliding round hairpins, wheel spinning everywhere and zapping anything that got in the way. Near the top my friend in the Elise smiled and gave the thumbs up saying well done...Job done!!
Next year it would be great to see some more Esprits, so I hope all the Esprit owners (or should I say Drivers) who read this will give it a go in 2005.
Well at the top we waited about 10 mins before the next Elise in our party turned up which gave us a chance to say hi to some old friends and grab a coffee. After a lunch stop it was off for some more mountain passes and the overnight stop in Chur. Tuesday we drove all the way through Switzerland avoiding the highways and sticking to mountain passes before heading into Italy again via the Gothard pass for our next overnight stop. Leaving Italy we headed for France for a couple of nights playing in the Cote D'Azur area, wow the passes and mountain roads in all countries are just fantastic.
Before my trip I changed the brake pads front and rear to EBC Red Stuff as I wanted some more bit and I have to say they are great, a 100% improvement over standard. They just need a little warming up but then they pull you up with confidence. I would recommend the EBC TurboGroove disk and Red Stuff upgrade to anyone, cheaper than the four pot but great performance. A few times on the trip I hit 275kph and with the gearbox change that has changed the gearing I found that I still was only using 6000 rpm and the engine was still pulling, but I ran out of road or some twat pulled out into the fast lane, but hey I was thankful for the Red Stuff.
Well when I was in Italy I pulled up at the hotel and 3 girls were standing in the doorway watching as we all parked our cars and I though this is going to be embarrassing having to push my car backwards. But what do you know she went straight into reverse and had continued working since. So I have no idea what the problem was at all.
Now it is back to work and some more upgrades on my Esprit, but I can't wait till next years Stelvio, I will remember it for years to come with joy.
Euro Trip 2003
In the middle of September I have planned a 3000km trip that will take in Autobahns, twisty mountain roads and some excellent scenery. I will be driving from home in The Netherlands down to Montreaux in Switzerland where I will spend a night before continuing over the Gt St Bernard Pass of the Alps into Italy and then up to Lake Como for a couple of nights. My route back will take me back over another small mountain pass into the eastern side of Switzerland and then up to Germany along lake Constance and through the Black Forest up through Germany and home to The Netherlands. With excellent weather (I hope) and roads it should be a great trip, shame there are no others to come along. Maybe next year Lotus Esprit World should arrange a trip around Europe, like the SELOC guys do, if anyone shows interest I do not mind helping to arrange things from this end.
The whole route St Bernard Pass Lake Como
1. Home 2. Montreaux 3. Great St Bernard Pass 4. Lake Como 5. Menaggio 6. Mountain Pass 7. Back on the Highway 8. Bregenz 9. Lake Constance 10. Black Forest 11. Home
During my stay in Como I will be travelling over to Stelvio for lunch on the 12th to meet up with the SELOC guys and in excess of 100 Lotuss who make the annual trip, mostly Elises but all models are welcomed, so come on Lotus Esprit World, how about the Stelvio for next year as well.
Euro Trip Report
Just got back from my blast around Europe which I have to say was fantastic. The route changed somewhat as the days progressed but I eventually drove from The Netherlands down through Germany into France with a stop in Strasbourg the first day.
This was not without event, whilst driving down the autobahns at 260 KPH I slowed off to around 180 then went to overtake someone and found I had no power. A quick check of the dials and I saw that there was no boost! So I mad a stop at the next gas station and scratched my head a little thinking damn blast and sh ..t. I really wanted to meet up with the other Lotuses at the Stelvio in a couple of days, but did not want to drive her all that way like that, so I phoned the garage and after a brief discussion my worst fears of a blown turbo or something were alleviated. It transpired that the wastegate arm had come off its coupling, so after letting her cool down for a while I managed to put it back and bung a paper clip through the cir-clip hole. Job done and I was off again.
The rest of the journey to Strasbourg was uneventful, however when I got there I had a splitting headache, probably from the fuel smell in the cabin. Yes that is another little thing I am going to have to sort, the breather pipe obviously needs changing.
The next day I set off early in the morning for Lake Como in Italy, and after a rainy first day it was great to have some lovely sunshine at last. The trip took me into Switzerland at Basle down to Luzerne and onto Lugano and finally Como. Lugano gave me my first taste of mountain roads, I dont know what it is but when you start driving on a twisty mountain road you just put the pedal to the metal and go hell for leather, pushing the car further and further round bends at speeds you would not even think about normally, great fun. On the way down I saw a brand new Ferrari completely smashed up on the back of a trailer and I though well he obviously tried a little to hard. In Como the hotel moved all the other cars in the garage so as I had pride of place, which was nice. And driving through Como I kept hearing the passers by saying Bella, Bella (beautiful, beautiful). I met a couple of Scottish guys in Como and they had seen me driving through as well, everyone wants to know all about the car and take a look, it really does attract a lot of attention in Europe.
Como was great, time to relax for the afternoon and take in a boat trip in gorgeous sunshine, some wonderful pasta like only the Italians know how and an early night ready for an early start in the morning to get over to Stelvio for lunch.
Well I set off early in the morning and took the A and B roads over to Bormio, near Stelvio which again was a lot of fun, but the fun had only just started. As I was driving down the road, 5 lotus went the other way, then I saw another two in front of me, so I caught them up and followed them to a petrol station where the whole place was just full of Lotus cars all filling up before ascending the Stelvio. I tagged along and followed 10 Elises up the Stelvio, what a blast. All other cars were just zapped passed by everyone, wheels spinning out of the corners, constant changing of gears (never got above 3rd). It was so much fun and the guy in front had his passenger taking a video, so he spun it around and got some good footage of my Esprit going up the Stelvio, cant wait to see it.
When we got to the top the whole place was just a Lotus car park, they were everywhere, you cant imagine. There was a Noble up there with the group from the UK as well, and there was a blue S4S, the only other Esprit.
After lunch went back down the Stelvio in the same style that we went up, flat out and by the time I got to the bottom, I had no brakes, the pedal went straight to the floor with only the last € inch biting, so I was pumping like made and using the engine to slow down, I guess the fluid boiled as after about 10 mins driving on normal roads and using the brakes as little as possible they came back. Quiet hair raising I can tell you, next year I think I will upgrade the brake before I go. So with a large group we went over to St Moritz for the night, and had some good company and talks with other drivers about their experiences.
The following morning, I set off with a group and got lost at the petrol station, they set off and I followed after paying and was trying to catch them up, but eventually realized I had missed the mountain pass turn, so I carried on anyway and drove some excellent mountain roads through Switzerland and into Austria, where I headed over the mountain roads through St Anton and little villages like Egg and onto Bregenz on the Swiss/German/Austrian border. From there I blasted down the Swiss highways to Zurich and the Biel before heading off into the mountains again and over to France to meet up with the rest of the Group at Bescanon. Another great evening. Next day it was with a small group of 5 where we set off through the countryside of France heading north, some great lunch, fantastic weather and brilliant roads. After lunch we split and I followed another Dutch driver into Luxembourg and back home.
I have to say the whole experience of driving an Esprit through twisty tight mountain roads and fast long sweeping corners of country roads really harmonizes you with the car. I feel 100% more confident with the handling of the car and have cornered at speeds I didnt think would be possible. The handling is truly superb. Sorry no pics as I was concentrating on the driving to much to have the time.
Another picture update for my Esprit, surrounded by Elises at the top of the Stelvio Also a Blue S4S there......If you want to see some fun driving check out Tony on the Stelvio.. www.daveakerman.com/~tchurly/2003.wmv