It’s 40 years since Q Branch wowed us with its new piece of equipment: The Lotus Esprit, which James Bond drove into the Med and into iconic film status. We detail the restoration of Esprit Number 30 – the 30th car off the production line.

Elsewhere, we help you prepare your car for the MoT, buy a bunch of future classics for £250 and take a 1947 Austin on an epic romp around the West Country. Plus, a huge dollop of technical tips and restoration advice.  


Paul Coleman, a college lecturer from Bedford, restored his Series 1 in the family garage. ‘Apparently Sir Roger Moore quite fancied himself one but Lotus wouldn’t give him a discount.’ Paul stands gazing at his car – the result of an arduous decade long rebuild. ‘I didn’t have time to install rocket launchers or machine guns’ he wearily admits. And although we establish that it will no doubt go underwater, this particular Lotus probably won’t fare well. ‘There have been moments I’ve wanted to drive it into a lake.’

Paul spent two years looking for the right car and found this one ten years ago, on a driveway in Bristol. First registered in September 1976, it was bought by the previous owner in 1982 and was laid up in 1989. ‘I was chuffed to find it was a genuine early car, with the centre ashtray, small pod wing mirror, green tonneau cover - all of which only the very early cars had. Sadly, the car was in a bit of a state and would need a full restoration…


What better way to recommission one’s classic than to give it an MoT in the driveway in readiness for the real deal, especially if it’s a pre-1960 car and exempt from official probing? The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) report that 50 per cent of cars that fail the MoT are all for the want of simple maintenance, so with a few hours’ work, and reference to the free manual and checklist on, you could get a year’s test with no advisories.

Pick up a copy of the magazine for the full range of tips but meantime, here’s a list of reasons your car would fail the test!

1 You can’t prove the age of the vehicle

2 Its bottom is so caked in stool, it can’t be seen

3 It’s so thirsty or broken it can’t be driven

4 There’s something big and insecure inside

5 You’re too tight to pay up front if required

6 It creates foul, voluminous and avoidable smoke

7 A door/panel/flap can’t be opened to give access

8 It’s so dreadful it would be injurious to go near it

9 The vehicle’s ID is unreadable, missing or dodgy

Check out the latest issue for the full rundown!


Back in January 1947, Publicity Manager for the Austin Motor Company, Alan Hess, quite sensibly decided that he would need to conduct a shake down weekend for the new Austin 16 prior to its European publicity jaunt. The weekend would put 500 miles on the odometers of the three Austins that were going to make the continental run in March of that year.

In the spirit of authenticity, Guy Loverage and broadcaster Steve Berry decided to repeat the run to shake out the cobwebs on the Austin 16 Guy had been restoring., before they too headed off to Europe to recreate the main event. They set off from Longbridge, where the Sixteen was built, on a truly epic jaunt.

sam glover goes east


Our intrepid traveller/spanner genius takes a crumbling Mercedes to Bulgaria and attempts to drive it through several feet of snow. With typically preposterous results.

staff stories

Here are the sagas involving our own cars this month. To find out what nightmares we’ve been uncovering in our own restorations, check out the latest issue of Practical Classics!


Can you buy a classic – or an ‘almost-classic’ – for £250? We attempt it… with mixed results!