Why we bought a Europa
Julian's story (1973 Special 74/1288Q): The story goes along these lines - in 1976 we had just been through the "petrol" crisis and the beginning of the "green revolution" and I was under tremendous family pressure (Parents, Aunts, Uncles, etc) to sell my 10 year old Daimler V250 which was a beautiful car but only turned in about 18 miles/gallon (Imperial gallons that is). Being 23 years old at the time, I caved in, decided on a quite life (I was still living at home), sold the Daimler and went looking for another car. I happened to be standing on the forecourt of a car dealers when in drives one the mechanics in an Orange Europa S2 - I went WOW - how much does one of those cost ? - wait while I talk to my Bank manager - I'll take it !!
Of course, the family went absolutely apeshit but they couldn't complain about the fuel consumption could they ! The problem was that the car cost me 1000 pounds and the insurance cost me 300 pounds per quarter. So financial logic said "you can't keep this up for long". So I had a wonderful 6 months then sold the S2 and bought a '56 Commer delivery van for humping the band instruments around (that's another story) and '63 Rover 3 litre ('cos I like big cars) - by this time that family had given up hope on me and decided that cars was better than drugs........ but I said to myself "One-day, I'll have another Europa".
So, way down the road there I am approaching mid-age spread, mid-career, family, successful back operation, etc. and everyone saying "what are you going to do to celebrate the Millennium ?". ... and suddenly, it comes back to me "One-day, I'll have another Europa"...and so I went out looking for a S2 and came home with a Special !.....". ... and my boys went WOW........ so hopefully the circle starts again.
I did some rallying back in the late '70s (as navigator not driver). I don't think I'm a particularly gifted driver !! So, I already knew that I was looking for a road-only car to use as a daily driver not a track or competition machine. ... and I knew that I would keep the Mercedes 190 as back-up. ...and I knew I want an authentic, stock car. I have worked-on and rebuilt cars in the past but present job and family constraints also decided that I did not want a "project" and that best option would be "complete runner". I also, considered (and tested) a new Elise but my heart was still saying Europa... Having excluded "projects", I looked at a yellow Twink, a green S2 (sold by the time I got there), another yellow S2 (heavily modified), a red S2, and then this Special in JPS colours presented itself; previous owner had it for 23 years, full history available (all bills going back 23 years), PO was well known member of the CLF, the car was well know in the French Lotus world, it had been maintained by a well reputed Europa specialist.........all it need was a big cheque with lots of 000s (so off to the bank.....etc,) So, what do I like about my Special. It's different to anything else around - there's only three of us the South of France; it's wonderful to drive; it goes like shi.....; it's a great conversation piece, I arrive at work with a big grin on my face, the boys fight to be taken to school in it, the wife makes all the right noises about it, etc.....
Ken's story (1972 Twin Cam 74/2577R): I've always loved sports cars. As a kid I loved the Lamborghini Muira the best and of course various Ferraris. I was always aware of the Europa too and thought it was a cool car. 15 years ago, while living in Chicago, I saw a red Europa Twin Cam going down the street. I knew what it was and really liked the way it looked in person. Then a few years ago I started seriously thinking of getting a toy car and I looked into Ferrari 308's and Mondials. The purchase prices were okay but the maintenance really had me worried. These are very complicated cars and very expensive and difficult to maintain. My mind went back to that Europa and I was thinking 'mid engine, exotic, easy on the eyes and I hear they're not that expensive.' As I learned more about them I kept coming across comments from owners about how they're such a blast to drive and there's nothing else like them out there. Plus, they are simple cars and you can do a lot of work on them yourself. When I found this group and 'met' all the fine people here I really made the decision that I'd buy a Europa. I knew I had a support group to help me when I needed it. Also, I found a local mechanic who knew all about old British sports cars. I learned about the different models and scoured the net to find Europas for sale. Obviously, there aren't too many around and I wanted a top condition car. As irony would have it, I saw an ad for a car in Chicago and guess what! It was the SAME car I had seen 15 years earlier! It was bought new by the owner from the factory in England, has been parked inside it's whole life, had lots of upgrades (electric fuel pump, electronic ignition) had all new hoses and belts, was clean as can be and COMPLETE records....and when I got him down from $11,500 to $8500 that was it! So far it's been a great car and every bit as much fun as I expected - .
Aaron's story (1974 Special 74/4153R): I happened upon my Special while not even old enough to drive (13 or so). it was languishing in my aunt's back yard where her son had parked it upon moving back from California. so, it sat there for a couple of years, then I decided it just had to be saved. it became my car on my 16th birthday. my life has been off on a tangent ever since... ;-) so, it was a real basket case, and has taken over 3 years to get where its at now (that is, everything redone but paint and tires) but that is because of being a broke student. moral: get a restored car, even if it is a bit more expensive because you wont have to go through the crap rebuilding the thing right off! :-) the twin cam cars are my favourite, mainly because they were the latest development of the street Europa. more power, better brakes, uprated (not much) rear suspension, better visibility... although all these things can be put on an earlier car. also, engine parts for the twink are pretty much readily available, where as a lot of Renault parts are getting nearly unobtainable.
Scott's story (????): I don't have one yet but I will. Here is my reason for wanting a 1970 S2 Europa. It was back in 1970 when my Dad and I went to pick up a new Datsun 510 two door sedan (a car with it's own bragging rights). It was only 2 years later when I got my drivers license and started to have some fun in that car (and I lived). My dad said that I could do what I wanted to the car's engine, no oversize pistons, that I could afford. From then on I wanted a car that was as close to a racecar as I could get and still drive it on the street. I did not find that car until my first year in the Air Force in 1975. That's when I saw my first Europa S2. One of the F-4 Phantom pilots had one. I never really got to talk to the guy about the car (he was a Captain and I was a just a new Airman) but I knew right then that this was the car that I wanted. It was not until this year 2001 that I stated "I'm 45 now and I had better get one before they are not around any more". I'm doing a career change from Aerospace Quality Inspection and Manufacturing (Space Shuttle and Space Station) to Computer Systems Administration and thought when I complete my schooling for computers and get my MCSE I will go find a Europa. Now here's the funny part, I completed my last class on a Wednesday evening and the following Thursday morning what just happens to be in the Driving 2000 Car lot, out in front and on the lawn, you guessed it, a 1970 Canaveral Red Europa S2. After 26 years of seeing the car I was finally going to drive one. All of you are correct about one thing with any model of Europe, once you drive it you just can't walk away. It was a short drive and in the city but I got to drive one and I had a blast. I wish that I could have taken it out onto I-565 (70mph speed limit, most people drive at 80mph) here in the Huntsville area but I still drove it. I could not buy that one at that time (I not sure if it is still for sale) but I did get to look at it, learn about the car, and take lots of pictures of it I also learned about this listing and man have I learned a lot in just a few months. What I really liked was when I stopped at a stoplight and a Vette stopped next to me, I had to look up to see it. I plan to drive my Europa as my every day car and I know that they are not the most comfortable but if I what comfort I would keep drive my Nissan King-Cab Truck. So that is why I want a Europa.
Daniel's story (1968 S2 54/0724):
When I was a young boy, I fell in love with cars, in great part by my father
fault. He has participated to the birth of go-kart in France in the early
sixties. Very young I spent my pocket money by buying motoring
periodicals like “L’Automobile Magazine” or “Sport Auto”. When I
was ten or eleven years old, I could recognise scarce cars like Borgward, CD
Panhard, Sovam and so on. In this period, my father has taken me to the 24
hours of Le Mans, first time in 1965. When I saw these cars in reality, I
was impressed not only by their speed, their sounds but also by their style.
It has to be said that this was in the glory days of the battle Ford vs
Ferrari. In June 1966, 1967 and 1969 we were back in the Sarthe country. I
didn’t miss the special Le Mans edition of “Sport Auto” with its
colour pictures (not common at this period). Between Ford and Ferrari, I had
difficulties to do a choice. My father supported “David” Ferrari, which
had an influence on me, but in the other way I was very admirative of the
GT40 of “Goliath” Ford. Today as at the period, the Ferrari
P4 and the Ford GT40 are in my opinion the most fabulous racing cars of all
So, when shortly after this, I saw my first Lotus Europa in the street, I
loved its shape immediately: with its low roof line, its only two side
glasses and its flat engine cover, it looked like a racing car escaped from
the circuit to come in the street. This was quite true because the
Lotus 47 which participates in the 1967 edition of the 24 hours was the
racing version of the Europa. The virus was installing in a corner of my
About ten years after, I practised during five years off road motorbike
racing –enduro- with my father support and my mother great dislike!
Then a work colleague who was practising off road rallying proposed me to be
his co-pilot. I did not hesitate and during four years I red the road book.
But the appeal of driving became strong enough to push me in the driver
seat, always in rallies but this time on tarmac. From local events with a
completely stock Alfasud TI group N, we went to more and more important
events including some outings in Belgian or French European championship
rallies: Peugeot 205 GTI 1600, 1900 and finally 309 GTI 16, a very pleasant
and not easy car to drive. But money shortage made an end to this activity,
Collector’s cars had always be a subject of interest for me, more or
less. A few months after my rallying stop, the idea of owning a collector
car naturally grew up in my mind. Of course it had to be a sports car
with a race like concept, a mid mounted engine and a certain rarity. The
answer fell: it had to be a Ferrari P4 or a Ford GT40.
But after having looked carefully to the classifieds adds, no Ferrari P4
was for sale. So for that reason and only this (yes it’s true!), I did not
insist. Then speaking to myself, I thought: try the Ford GT40, which is more
“common”. A GT40 was auctioned, but I didn’t like the colour.
For that reason and only that (yes it’s true!) I did not buy it.
At this moment my wallet called me. That’s right, I had forgotten it!
This changed the cards. The answer of my question was now clear: Lotus
Europa! Moreover, some British journalists had called the Europa “the poor
mans GT40”, hadn’t they?
After this new important element was integrated, I looked at the Europa
market values in “Retroviseur” mag. The purchase was then planned for
the end of 1997 or beginning of 1998, after some money saving.
Before that, I had to learn a little more about the car; my knowledge was
limited to the fact that the fibreglass body stands on a steel backbone
chassis and that there were two makes of engines, the R16 and later a Ford
1600cc. So, at the beginning of 1996, I ordered in England some books
dedicated to the Europa. This forced me to revise my English I had forgotten
since the school end. This done (very partly!), I could discover the details
of the car mechanical part. In parallel, I looked carefully to the
classifieds in order to see if the true prices were close to the market
value announced in magazines. And, as I expected, classifieds concerning
Europas were not very common, not to say very rare! After the English books
study, I thought I had to choose a Europa Special which was said to be the
best in every book and which is the more powerful. However, I prefer the
Renault engine Europa shape, especially the S1 which is the slimmer and
purest of the range. Concerning the car condition, I wanted a car in good
condition, possible with some mechanical job. Knowing my short patience and
according to he lack of space I disposed, I could not and would not start a
But this was all theory! When I saw the fist Europas
Special in the classified adds, their prices were too high for my wallet. I
had either to wait more time than expected, or to look at the Renault Europa.
I bravely decided not to decide anything! Chance will do things. At the
beginning of summer, I entered the Club Lotus France to speak with owners
and to see the car closer. In parallel I decided to go to see some Europas
appearing in the classified adds (those which were not too far from my home)
just to learn more about the car.
In June I went to see my first Europa at 80 km from my home. She was
there, in the gravelled path, with her dazzling red body. A part asleep of
my brain suddenly woke up. Time is reversing, I am in 1967 and a very low
Lotus passes in the street. But the owner coming to me stops this dream.
This car standing in front of me has a power on me. It corresponds well to
my 26 years old recollection. The car was an early S2 equipped with a
Gordini engine. The body and paint were in very good condition but the trim
was original and not in good condition. The engine didn’t work quite well,
same for the gearbox. Nevertheless the short travel in the passenger seat
showed me that the Europa is a particular car and must be very fun in good
condition; my idea was good. Shortly after this test I participate to my
first Lotus Club meeting. I could have the first contact with a Europa owner
from the Club. I highly recommend to those who are to buy a Europa to talk
to owners and to see some cars in reality. The knowledge acquired by books
is good but not sufficient to know well the car. I recommend also not buying
the first Europa you see even if you are blinded by your passion; it is far
better to see several cars to be able to judge each one. After my first
Europa visited, I went to see another one, a Special this time, but with a
Gordini prepared engine with more than 140 bhp. The engine and transmission
were in excellent condition with service history but the body shell showed
many cracks and the paint was poor. Nevertheless I think the car was a good
value but the price was too high for me. During my holidays I missed a S2
very original except the 5-speed gearbox, very fine but it was sold when I
phoned. A Club member later bought this car. This is the yellow car on the
picture at the top of this page.
Following all these phone calls and visits it seems to me that it was
perhaps better to buy a S2 whose prices were lower, whose shape was the one
I prefer, whose servicing was cheaper here in France than a Twin and which
can receive easily more powerful Renault engines if the power seems to be
too low. Also, S2 are a little more current than Twin Cams here. In
September, an interesting classified add appeared. The car was an early S2
fully restored with a Gordini engine at an interesting price. So even if it
was a little far from home (in the east of France) I decided after several
phone calls and mails to go there to see the car. It was fine, and as I was
to buy it, the vendor decided not to sell it! Perhaps regrets, perhaps a
view to sell it at a higher price? However I had the chance to drive for the
first time a Europa and I felt it very nice!
I had to wait until December to see another Europa classified. It was
also an early S2 with a R16TX engine, fully restoration nearly achieved and
slightly modified in the rear fender area (fuel filler and air intakes type
47). Another time, after several phone calls and mails I decided to see the
car, which was about 250 km from home. The body and chassis were very good,
the test showing some mechanical work to be done but not too difficult to
fix: pedal assembly badly modified making driving difficult, clutch pedal
effort very very high, play in transaxle, some counters not working etc…
Also on the bad side of the balance, the car had very few kilometres since
its restoration and so had to be tested a little more. But after some
discussions concerning the price which was at the higher level of my
possibilities, I thought it would be difficult to find another car in that
condition at this price, according to the other Europas I had seen. Finally
I bought the car! I decided to drive it back to my home the next week with a
friend. This is how, on a fine Sunday, a red Europa changed of owner.
I was prepared to discover some surprises, as it is not possible to check
everything in a short test. So back to home, I discovered a half-burned wire
going to the radiator fan. Fortunately there were no other consequences (the
wire diameter was too little). I discovered also some trouble with the rear
lights (bad earth) and a tendency to overheating. The radiator was not the
original, it was a Renault 5 mounted behind the front grille, but it was not
large enough. All this was cured after short drives around my home.
I am now the owner of a Lotus which, with its very low shape, it only has
two side windows and its flat engine cover seems to be escaped from the Le
Mans 24 hours circuit. This sentence surely not has the same signification
than at twelve years old, but it surely remains a large part. Don’t we say
that whatever the age, adults stay old Childs? There must be a part of truth
in that, if not why should I have bought a Lotus Europa?
Ian's story (1967 S1 46/0363): Once upon a time in a land far far way, when I was about 13 years old, I went with my father to record the sounds of the "Players 200" race at Mosport in 1962, won by Masten Gregory in a Lotus 19. I was captivated by the Lotus, Cooper, Jaguar, Lister, Maserati, Zerex Special and others. I can still remember Jim Hall pushing his car onto his trailer as the sun set. I became addicted to racing. Especially Lotus Formula One. December 1966, I picked up copies of the British "Motor" and "Autocar" magazines. Inside was the introduction of the Lotus Europa 46, I decided then and there I wanted one but by the time it arrived in Canada, the price had climbed to around $4000.00, which I could not afford.
1978, I came across a '70 Europa S2 (54-0995). I drove the car for a week or two until I noticed the gas tank was leaking, and that began its restoration process. A year later I backed it out of my garage and began driving it again for a month or two. One day, in the rain at an intersection, I turned left on a yellow and a Chevrolet Impala from the other side came across and in slow motion removed the front of the Europa. He didn't stop. I didn't get his license number. I was still inside the car, struggling to keep the windshield wiper away from my face. The Police passed by on their way to lunch or a bank robbery and asked if I was Okay. I replied yes, they left. A tow truck waved at me as he drove by with some other lucky contestant hooked up. He returned in ten minutes and yanked the Europa up as if pulling out a wisdom tooth. The car made more unholy noises as he accelerated away.
Later the Europa was again towed by the same truck, on the highway at 80mph to my garage. It sat there for a couple of months until after numerous calls to England, I decided it was going to cost more to properly repair it than it was worth. I sold the remains back to one of the previous owners, who rebuilt it much to my amazement.
Twenty-four years later, After about two years of casually searching for a Europa S1, I decided it was time to get off my butt and do something about it. Another birthday was fast approaching and I was again going to be Lotus-less. I went into overdrive trying to feed the hunger. And lo and behold, I found one. A quick email, and a phone call made me the proud but impatient owner of a 1967 Europa S1. Three weeks later it was delivered to my garage on August 5, 2001.
Jeff's story: I fell in love with the
Europa when I first saw one in 1969. When I got out of the Navy in 1973 I
went to my local Lotus dealer with $5000 cash in my pocket. Looked at all
three on the lot, picked a nice white one, and told the salesman I'd like to
take it for a test drive. He said "You couldn't do that."(!). I
said, "I want to buy a car and I can't test drive it first?" He
said, "That's company policy...you're too young."(!). As I said
"Oh really?!", I pulled a ($5000) wad of cash out of my pocket and
said, "I guess you just lost a sale!" You should have seen the
look on his face as I turned and left the lot. Finally got my Europa
Father's Day 2000! Good things are worth waiting for. :)
Whit's story (2098R, 3115R, 2842R): The truth as I now remember it. 1966-7, I was 14-15 years old. My uncle raced a S7, Elan, 118 Ferrari, and the Europa. He taught me to drive a stick at Elkhart Lakes after a race, on the track! Then we drove to his home, Madison Wis. And took his street Europa for a drive to the market. I remember the looks the car was receiving from a crowd of people looking at her when we came out of the store. Dud, my uncle told me to play along. He started looking at the car also, peering in the windows, "Hey the keys are in it, anyone want to go for a ride?" I said yes. We jumped in and drove away. I new this was the ultimate dream car for me. 1974 3rd year of college, Cal Poly, SLO, I found 2098R, a 1972TC. I wanted a high wing for they look sexier to me, yet I justified the TC because of price and I couldn't see the wings when I was driving anyway. Drove 650 to 1160 mile trips twice a month until, #3 con-rod bearing spun, Oh my baby, priorities were different than mow, not much but diff enough. Dropped school, design architect and had been working in this field for 6 years, to repair the Europa. #3 valve seat and fallen out with PO and new one was peaned into the head. Piston had been replaced and con- rod never checked/replaced, still have that spun bearing today. Rebuilt her with Duds one season old Elan Hi-comp race pistons, welded and returned crank and since the car wasn't on the road I flared the drivers side, the engine done, other side could wait. Have to test the engine. 1975 this night at 2am taught me the Lotus didn't make me a Jackie Stewart driver. Tagged the brakes coming out of Julian, S. CA Mountains, in a corner. Slid up the outside embankment, saw the right headlight shining in my face, front bonnet got embarrassed and flew away and we stopped. Car resting on the driver's flares, wheels on the 90 deg. banked turn embankment still running. I turn the engine off, gained my priorities, looked to make sure the windscreen wasn't cracked, good it's OK, then checked on my girl friend, good, she's OK. Total rebuild body off, jig frame, etc. Finished 1981 and started to learn how to drive. Autocross, Bondurant, Road Race, 2 Formula Fords. Eyesight failed and had to retire from racing. Well I had held first place 2 years in a row and it was a matter of time before the youngsters caught up. So retire in the Jackie Stewart style. 1991 build a big 1760cc TC for Europa. 1995 married the accountant, figured she knew what I was worth and still wanted me. She joked she married me for my car. It wasn't a joke; she'd fallen in love with the Europa 20 years earlier. Told her I would send her to Bondurant and if she earned a 2.0 out of the 5.0 she could drive the car. She'd be taught car control, which she would not take from me. I saw this coming to reality last year and regretted my statement. Solution…Buy her, her own Europa, thus 3115R and 2842R (Parts) came to being. Big difference rebuilding the Europa on a limited budget, (Aaron) 3 months saving to have a combustion camber rebuilt, and now 3 months total Europa rebuild. Thank you Mrs. Accountant! I can make $ yet not manage them! Teamwork, Direction and Money is great.
George's story (1970 S2 0044R):
I went to school in Norfolk, UK '69-73 about 10 miles from Hethel. My
best friend had a 250cc Villiers Gokart that we ran on the unused part
of the aerodrome at Hethel. It had a butterfly wheel, four gears on the
column and sounded like a Formula 3 with its tuned exhaust. We knew
nothing of timing, points or carbs so we probably pushed it more miles than
it propelled itself. One of the days we were there Jochen Rindt was driving
the Playmate of the Year around the test track-pretty amusing for 17 year
olds. Watched cars race at Snetterton-some 5000's and Formula 3's but
one day was an open street car race involving a few Minis, some Russian
Skodas, a Jaguar, some RAF Lakenheath US Airforce Cameros and Mustangs and a
late arriving Europa. The minis lead early, screaming around everywhere on
two wheels and 9000rpm, the Skodas missed and stuttered and broke down, the
Camaros had flames from the exhausts as they frantically tried to slow down
their two plus tons at the hairpin after the Norwich straight. The Europa
started well back in the pack and proceeded to move up every lap. It was in
a different handling class than all the rest-very smooth and nimble. Daddy's
Jaguar got pranged("Daddy's not going to be too pleased" said the
tannoy loudspeaker) and the Europa won the race. I was hooked. I looked into
the Sevens' kits while in England but had no money so I had to wait almost
30 years before finding my own Europa this year. University involved driving
an '66 Austin Mini Estate- 850cc's of raw raging neck snapping power.(hardly).
Not that the fender steel was a bit thin but I do recall recessing the
headlamp 2 inches into the fender in London traffic where I nudged a bus in
the rear WITHOUT BREAKING THE HEADLAMP.
I also went up to Brands Hatch(around 1970) where I watched a curious race of identical stock production Ford Escorts driven by all the car builders available that day. I remember rooting for Colin Chapman but I don't think he won the race. Any listers remember this race? I am sure my details are shaky at best.
Availability and simplicity attracted me to the S2-I liked the looks and the Renault mechanics are more my technical speed. I like to work on cars and the S2 has no shortage of things to do but I am hardly a car mechanical engineer or understand the physics of race car design. I lift the hood of my 2 less than 10 year old cars only to check fluids- they're way too complicated nowadays for my expertise. Also don't have this pc hooked up to the car to tell me what's going on like all the car mechanics do nowadays. Since June I have rebuilt the brake MC, both calipers, the horn, electric window motor, the driver door, the rear shocks, the front trunnion, the shift linkage and the motor mounts and any rubber I can find. I have been able to drive about 500 miles in between.
David's story (1971 S2 0970R): I first became aware of Lotus in the mid-60s while growing up in Amarillo, Texas. An older kid in our neighborhood was interested in sports cars, and he had some cool models of Ford (Shelby) Cobras and the like. He also had a collection of magazines featuring wonderful cars from Aston Martin, Jaguar, Ferrari, Porsche--and Lotus.
His expert opinion about Lotus cars was "They're small, and lightweight, and very fast. But they're not reliable. In a race, a Lotus either wins or breaks down."
Then Lotus burst onto the American racing scene with the Lotus-Ford that Jimmy Clark raced at Indianapolis. I thought that car was the most incredible looking machine. It got me interested in other Lotus racers--the Type 25 and 33 Formula One cars, the 23B Sports racer--and I just loved their simple, purposeful elegance.
I knew Lotus made road cars, but I had never seen one in the flesh. Then, when I was about 14, I saw a red Europa S2 sitting on a parking lot. I was in disbelief! It was so tiny, and sleek, and unusual looking! It reminded me of my Ford GT-40 slot car. Over the next few years, at least two more Europas appeared in town. To me, they were always as exotic and desirable as any other sports car.
Fast-forward to 1981: I was about to graduate from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, when once again I saw a Europa S2 sitting on a parking lot--with a "For Sale" sign in the window. I was pleasantly surprised by the asking price. Then I drove the car. Oh...my...gosh! I had driven MGs, Sprites, Triumphs, but never anything that handled like this. I had to have it.
The Europa was my daily driver for about a year. Since then, it's been a weekend fun car. It spent a few years in the garage awaiting some electrical work while life's priorities pulled me in other directions, but when my teenaged son got interested in cars, he inspired me to get it all put back together. We have great fun driving the Europa. He thinks Europas are the coolest cars ever, and he wants one of his own...so the cycle continues.
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