A brief history of the Europa
New for the road in 1966 was the Europa, an export market, mid-engined coupe powered by Renault. Lotus took the 1470cc ohv engine plus its four speed gearbox and drive from the front-wheel-drive Renault 16 and reversed them, giving a good layout for the Europa, good access to the engine and reduced the Lotus dependence on Ford.
The chassis was a steel backbone, similar in concept to that of the Elan and the suspension followed the usual Lotus practice, the bolt-on wheels being braked by front discs and rear drums. A very sleek fibreglass body was bonded to the chassis on the early cars, which made accident repair most difficult and the windows were fixed in place.
A competition version of the Europa was also built in small numbers and this used a 1594cc Lotus-Cossworth twin camshaft engine, five speed Hewland gearbox, upgraded suspension, discs all round and lost some weight. One car was built for GKN using a Rover V-8 engine and reputedly ran at close to 180 mph. It was used for development work and by some lucky executives.
The Europa was changed to the Series 2 to overcome some of its problems by not bonding the body to the chassis, adding electric windows and improving the interior trim. However, the model remained an export one until 1969 when it finally reached its home market, still available completed or in kit form.
During the engine development, Lotus built the Type 62 as a Group 6 prototype sports racer. It had a space frame chassis and a body based on the Europa. Finished in Gold Leaf colours it looked, sounded and performed well to indicate areas needing further work. The cars had a short life with the works race team but a least one was sold on and later raced.
In 1971 the Renault-powered Europa was replaced by the Europa Twin-Cam. This used the Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine which was mated to the four-speed Renault gearbox at first and had the side "sails" removed to give it the flat rear deck. At the same time the body was mounted slightly higher on the chassis and made slightly longer to accommodate "normal" people.
The Big Valve Twin Cam engine and 5 speed Renault gearbox were added in 1973 to create the Europa Special.
Production stopped in early 1975.