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Maguire Esprits

'The Bothamley / Farmer 2-litre Esprit

BUILT : 1981 by John Maguire

CLASSIFICATION : Donington GT/ Silhouette

ENGINE : Hart 420R 4 cylinder 2-litre

RACED BY : John Bothamley  ( 1981-82 ), Geoff Farmer ( 1983-89 ), Bill or Ian Higgins ? ( 1990+ )

CURRENTLY : alive and well in the midlands

NOTES : John Maguire Racing of Coventry gained a reputation for building championship winning spaceframe Minis and by 1981 was offering a chassis for either Lotus Esprit or Skoda bodywork. Only 2 Esprit`s were built up, both survive and by chance both were offered for sale during the winter of 2019/20. A third Maguire Esprit bodyshell was used on George Coghill`s F2 Chevron B40 around the same time and just 1 Skoda-bodied option is believe to have been made, now in Ireland.

John Bothamley had chassis 1 with Brian Hart engine and used March 792 F2 suspension and brakes fitted to the Maguire chassis. John raced in Donington GT and elsewhere through 1981/82 before selling the car to Geoff Farmer. Repainted in Coventry City sky blue it rivaled the similar engined 'Lancia' of John McGaughey through 1984 . Having advertised it for sale for £10,750 and not found a buyer Geoff continued and by 1987 all came good the season i saw him win at Donington beating the Tony Sugden and Jon Fletcher versions. Geoff won 7 of the 8 rounds to win the Transnational GT championship that year. 

Thereafter its believed both Maguire Esprits were bought by the Higgins brothers ( Bill + Ian ) from Boston in 1990. Then the car went to the US in 1997 and was used in sprints with new owner Chuck Sieber , gaining a Buick V6 engine and in 2007 new yellow paint. In early 2014 Piers Phillips imported the car back to the UK, restoring the Hewland gearbox but the car remained unused and was for sale in 2016 and 2018 before seemingly finding a new owner over the winter of 2019/20 before readvertised in March. The car was finally sold in 2022 to be rebuilt with a view to racing.

Esprit matthews.jpg
'The Matthews / McLurg 1500 Esprit'

BUILT : 1981 by John Maguire

CLASSIFICATION : Donington GT/ Silhouette

ENGINE : Alan Smith BDA 1498cc

RACED BY :Roger Matthews ( 1981-82 ), Eddie McLurg ( 1983-89 ), Bill or Ian Higgins ? ( 1990+ )

CURRENTLY : not known, for sale 2019/20

NOTES :  The sister car raced in the 1500cc class of Donington GTs at the same time the Hart-engined version during the mid-80s. For this one John Maguire used March 74b suspension and an Alan Smith-built BDA engine.

Roger Matthews swapped his Escort 1.5 for the new Esprit for the 1981 season and the wedged red car was immediately competitive scoring points in 7 of the 8 rounds. 2 class wins and a strong season finish in a car described as 'superbly handling' enabled Matthews to tie the 1500cc class with Steve Soper`s Radbourne Fiat in 21 points.

At round 2 in 1982 Matthews broke the class record at Donington with a 1 minute 17.25 'despite 18 month old rubber' noted Motoring News. The class was won by Eric Patterson though in his Europa BDA with Matthews spinning on the champion elect's seized engine oil and into the barriers at the season finale. 

For 1983 the car went to Eddie McLurg but Patterson`s new Europa, Rob Cox`s 'Black Brick' and the venerable Mini of Peter Baldwin kept the Esprit out of the top 3 in Donington GT. Cox winning in 1984 tho McLurg did get a class win in the June round. By 1986 in the car`s 6th season in Donington 'Transnational' GT and the series in a slow decline McLurg and Baldwin went to the season finale to settle the class which the Esprit took by 66 points to 63 to record its second 1500cc class win between both its owners.

1987 McLurg settled for class runner up in the final season of Donington GT to John Digby ( Ginetta ). McLurg signed off with the Esprit by winning the unsponsored BRSCC Sports GT Challenge in 1988 with 82 points in class B from class A winner John Kent ( TVR ) 76.

The car`s record since 1988 is unknown to me beyond possible ownership from the Higgins brothers. Then in early 2020, like its sister, it was adverised for sale, for £15K . Like it`s sister it remains to be seen if someone can pick up this project and get either of these successful GT cars back out on track where they belong.

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