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Fri 16 May 2008 04:00 AM

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A slice of history

Last week I stood next to the car of my dreams. Several millimetres of crusty dirt couldn't detract from the legendary supercar.

Last week I was standing next to the car of my dreams. A flat tyre and several millimetres of crusty dirt couldn't detract from the low, dramatic, paper-fold profile of an iconic, dare I say, legendary supercar.

Unlocked, unregistered, possibly once flooded, an ominous box of engine bits in the rear boot, AWOL exhaust, and the tatty black leather interior trim in desperate need of nurturing from a sympathetic seamstress - okay, it wasn't exactly in pristine state.

When a reader sent in images of a 1984 Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo, apparently abandoned by the side of the road in Sharjah, I was there before you could say 'I bet it's got a blown Turbo', and no doubt you'd be right.

Famous for its underwater sub act in The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond flick, the Esprit represented the epitome of 1970s wedge design.

The unblemished, unbroken two halves of fibreglass bodywork conjoined at the thin black waistline ensure that the British classic's simple silhouette remains intact. It also serves to reaffirm my assertion that this particular relic is not so far gone on the path to decay, that it's beyond resurrection.

In the peak of health the Esprit would have boasted a turboed four-cylinder power output of 210bhp, but weighing just 1000kg could scythe through the air cutting a dash to 100kph in about 5.5 seconds.

It was a sensation when first unleashed in Paris in 1975 and makes for a tragic but still stunning sight lying forlornly just off the Emirates Road today.

What's even sadder is that I can do nothing to save this classic from its stagnant state. Nobody knows of its owner and it's been there up to six months or more depending on who you ask.

Lotus confirmed that an Esprit with this VIN was sold in July 1984 in left hand drive, in the same colour and trim, but can't reveal the owner.

Further enquiries suggest it may have been parted from its owner in a most illegitimate manner and smuggled in from Europe some time ago. Regardless, even stolen/recovered cars do get a second chance, once the insurance company that paid for it has been satisfactorily compensated, cars can be legally reregistered.

Laws and rules differ across the Middle East, if at all they exist, in regards to dumped vehicles, and potential salvagers are left without any procedural process to follow. Beware, 'finders-keepers' does not apply!

There really needs be some way to let those that care get hold of these lost treasures. The Esprit is not alone, there's a Lamborghini Muira SV criminally wasting away in Qatar that we also know of, and I'm sure you can tell us about more unloved gems across the region (please do!).

Let's hope authorities can come up with some sort of rehabilitation programme for these not-so-lost causes soon.

Shahzad Sheikh is the group editor of ITP Consumer.