The history of the Lotus Esprit and the orginal Project M71 are very much "back in the day" now! This full movie is 6 megabytes, for shorter versions and more info and movies on the End Of The Line For The Esprit - click here
The Esprit was always destined to receive the multi cylinder engine it deserved. Even when the original S1 Esprit was launched it's stretched Lotus Europa chassis and engine compartment were roomy enough to accomodate more than the then new Lotus 907 straight 4 (click here for more on the development of the Esprit. Both the original 160 bhp 907 engine, which entered production in the S1 Esprit in 1976, and turbocharged 210 bhp 910 engine, which first appeared in the Essex Esprit Turbo in 1980, were canted at a 45 degress to the left, leaving a space to the right which could be utilised by another bank of cyliners.
Infact, the Turbo Esprit would have received a Lotus designed V8 in 1980, if Chief engineer Tony Rudd (ex-BRM) had had his way. There were two competing approaches to providing the Esprit with the desired power at the time: the 4 cylinder turbo type 910 engined Esprit (which became the Turbo Esprit), codenamed Project M72 and the V8 type 909 engined Esprit, codenamed Project M71. It's a little known fact that Lotus actually built a running 400+ bhp V8, called the type 909 .....
click here for more backgound information and pictures of the type 909 development