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Lotus Europa

Lotus Europa Published: 13th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa
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Not only is the Europa a far more purist and modern concept to the Elan but it was the forerunner to the Elise; a mid-engined, enclosed sports car with a fibreglass body that tipped the scales at barely less than 700kg and was so low that it made Ford’s GT40 look like an MPV. Prices are keener than Elans, which the Europa outsold incidentally if you ignore the Plus 2 range.


Elans are a tight fit but in comparison the Europa is like putting on a wet suit, which is apt as entering a Europa is a bit like getting into a bath – and you can get just as wet. Once behind the Europa’s wheel though it’s fine and you certainly feel like you’re in a racer even nipping down to the shops. Performance depends on the model; Even in its day, the Renault-powered Europas weren’t shatteringly fast; road tests clocked the car at around 110mph with 60 in a shade under 10 seconds. Later twin-cam cars, took the 0-60mph down to a tad over seven for the normal S2 or an astonishing 6.6 seconds for the lovely looking Big Valve Special.

Lotus as you’d expect made the Europa handle, and some even admit they’re more nimble than an Elan, although compared to, say an Elise or an MR2 Toyota, actual cornering speeds seem pretty low now and they want watching in the wet, mainly the front end where the front end becomes a tad too light.


Europa prices trail Elans by a handsome margin (40 per cent on average) but are rising. Most desired are the JPS models where £30,000 plus can be asked if truly exceptional, and this includes the rare S1, if for no other reason that it is eligible for HSCC races. You can still buy a good S2 for comfortably under 20 grand and generally speaking non JPS cars are worth two-thirds less.


1966 S1 launched but UK enthusiasts couldn’t get hold of any because they were chiefly for export

1968 S2 is more tailored for road use, with separate chassis and more refinement. Renault 1470cc engine has 78bhp. US versions boasted a 1565cc but only 80bhp

1971 As Race versions always used Lotus-Ford power from the outset, it was a logical step to offer the Elan’s 105bhp unit in the road cars, phasing out the Renault-powered derivatives in the process, now identified by cut down rear buttresses to aid rear vision

1972 Europa Special joins range boasting the same big valve head as found on the 126bhp Elan Sprint tune plus the availability of a five-speed gearbox. Dear yet this model outsold the lesser TCs by 2 to 1, with around 4500 finding homes globally

Best models


Cheapest Europa is only brisk but ok and turning parts are available. Rare S1s have special ‘split’ brake system and parts are very scarce

Twin cam

TC gave Europa what it always lacked plus rear restyle lessened ‘bread van’ jibes no end. JPS cars now highly coveted if left in original state


Mid-engne layout gives scope for other engines; Rover V8 back in the 60s but more popular and saner fits now from Vauxhall and Ford (Zetec) 16-valve units

Top five faults


Most are wonky and in need of a proper servicing and geometry adjustment at least; no two Europas drive the same as a result


Linered Renault engine is long-lived if a bit rattly; easy to overhaul but only lower compression type pistons are now available, it is claimed. TC foibles are worn timing chain (check if adjuster is all used up) failing water pumps (which is an engine out, head off job excessive oil leaks (and usage) and less than 40psi oil pressure


Rear driveshafts connected to aft-mounted gearbox needs correct shimming. Badly fitted or non-existent shims common. Gear linkage prone to breaking


Original sheetmetal affair will either have rotted or BE fatigued. Richard Winter at Europa Engineering sells new frames for around £120, a new body some £1700. Spyder Engineering markets its own spaceframe chassis


Rears can be a hassle; handbrake is so bad it has to be adjusted until it binds to work at all

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