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One of The Best: 1973 Lotus Europa JPS

The Lotus Europa John Player Special Edition is a car that is guaranteed to cause a certain level of confusion. The majority of contemporary reports tend to insist that only the first 100 cars produced featured the numbered badge fitted to the dash. However, this may not necessarily be true, as this particular car carries badge number 105, while I have also found cars that feature higher numbers still. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Lotus at this point in time were not renowned for their meticulous record keeping, and even organizations such as the British Lotus Europa Knowledgebase state that it is difficult to nail down an accurate total. Keeping this in mind, Europa JPS #105 is located in Landrum, South Carolina, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $38,500 for the Lotus, with the option available to make an offer.

The presentation of this Lotus is quite impressive, and rates as one of the nicest JPS Editions that I have seen for quite a while. There is a pretty good reason for this. The car has spent the majority of its life in California, but in 2006, it was returned to England to undergo a full restoration. It appears that this was a complete “nut and bolt” process, as the chassis looks like it has either been painted or powder-coated and is spotless. One of the main weak points on the Europa is where the body attaches to the chassis, as rust could develop in these spots. However, if these are clean, then that’s half the battle won. The paint has a few minor flaws in it, which is pretty much to be expected, as the restoration did occur about 13-years-ago. The doors are said to open and close as they should, which is always a positive sign with a Europa.

The interior trim on a Europa is another area which can be prone to some pretty horrendous deterioration over the years, but this car has held up quite well. The seats are finished in tan leather, and while this has stretched in a few spots, it looks good. The dash pad and floor console also appear to be in good condition, while the carpet and door trim also look good. The Special badge with the clear number 105 is visible on the dash, which is the item that can cause so much confusion. However, I do believe that this is correct, as, in spite of the claims of these badges only being attached to the first 100 cars, I have seen badges with numbers in the 160s.

When the Europa underwent its restoration, the engine wasn’t spared the treatment, and also underwent a rebuild. The engine is fitted with the Webber twin-cam head which wears a pair of Dellorto carburetors. A set of headers and a Flowmaster exhaust provide a small but useful increase in performance, while also enhancing the quality of the noise being produced by the Europa’s engine. Upgrades have also been made to the ignition and shocks, while the car wears super sticky but road-legal Avon tires. The owner says that the car runs, drives, and handles well.

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that this Lotus Europa is cheap, because it isn’t. However, this also isn’t the most expensive example that I’ve seen. The owner provides a really good catalog of photos, and they tend to indicate that this Europa is in incredibly good condition, and when you are talking about what is essentially a hand-made, low volume vehicle, that is vitally important. For the right type of enthusiast, this could be an incredibly enjoyable little car to own.


  1. Steve

    “The doors are said to open and close as they should, which is always a positive sign with a Europa.” Replacing a Europa door hinge is a job you wouldn’t wish on an enemy.

    Like 7
    • Brakeservo

      When I was a student from 1973 -1975 I worked for a Lotus dealer in the San Fernando Valley and have seen and driven plenty of these cars. One day a mechanic went to open a door and somehow pulled up as well as out on the handle. The door tore in half! I’ve gone on to own plenty of sports cars but will never risk my money on a Lotus or Jensen Healey either!

      Like 4
  2. scott

    My father had a new Yellow 1969 in 1970 thru 1972, used it in auto cross at the time. (Sold in 1972) Then, In 1988, I found him a similar car, a Yellow 1969, but this one had the Gordini hemi head conversion, it ran hard! But, as life would have it ( and typical of my father) he sold it for huge profit and it went to Japan. It was the last big gift I ever gave him.

    I still drive my 79 Bronco I bought in 1986……….

    Like 6
  3. misterlou Member

    “No one over six feet need apply”

    Like 4
  4. phil

    “No one over six feet need apply”

    Well, no. If you are 6′-2″ I can get you into a Europa, even if I need to make changes to the seat.

    More-important is your shoe size. If it is above a USA men’s size 11, it is going to pose some difficulties.

    Like 9
  5. Michelle H Rand Staff

    These are cracking fun.

    Like 0
  6. g Wentzell

    To the above comments, Yep! I am 6’2″ and wear a size (US) 15 shoe. I am not svelte. At one time I ALMOST got into a Europa – almost. Halfway in I realized, I may get in but would have to be cut out of the car to get out. I liked the car too much to put it through that.

    Like 7
  7. Gale Heimbach

    The interior on these cars were vinyl with corduroy cloth inserts. Fie on the person who made it leather!

    Like 1
  8. Dave Mazz

    Asking $38,500?? Hemmings says “What to Pay, 1974 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special, Low: $6,000, Avg: $8,000, High: $20,000.” Is the JPS upgrade worth $18-19 grand, or did the 1974’s switch over to Isuzu engines :-) :-)

    Like 4
    • racer417

      Black Book/CPI says a #2 car is worth $26,000. Hard to buy a nice one for under $30k.

      Like 1
  9. Victor Anderson

    This thing has been for sale for a long time — and frankly I do not believe it to be a real JPS…and since there is some disagreement on if it is or not from various Lotus experts, you have to value the car as if it is not a JPS. Plus the car has a 4-speed in it, not the desirable 5-speed – which not only means it’s not worth as much but another clue that it’s not a real JPS. Soo…all that being said — this is still a very nice car, and the webber setup is quite nice to have and a huge plus. All that into account I’d say the car is worth about 1/2 the asking price. $38,000 is a lot of money for a Lotus Europa — and pretty much unheard of for a stock one. The ones that have had engine swaps and lotus of things done to them (note: Banks Europa — google it) can get this kind of money — but one like this? No way.
    My dad had a yellow 1970 Europa when I was a kid — and I always wanted one since. About 3 years ago I finally went to buy one — but I ended up getting a Lotus Elise instead because the cheap Elise’s seem to cost not much more than a really nice twin-cam 5-speed Europa — …and figured as it was going to be my daily driver I’d be better off with the Elise. Someday I will score an Europa though:) But sure as heck not this one for that kind of $.

    Like 4
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Thanks for the reality check.

      Three + decades ago, a friend had a real JPS car, and decided it would be quite a bit more fun with more/different power. So it got a Mazda rotary attached to the 5-speed. Yep, it was faster, quite a bit!

      I have no idea what ever became of the car, it was set up for a modified class of SCCA autocross. Who knows, maybe someone returned it to all Lotus again?

      Like 0
    • Paul

      you are correct, 5 speeds. I did not look is there a picture of the number disk???

      Like 0
      • Paul

        Going to add they were all black interior not what is pictured

        Like 0
  10. Chip Lamb

    It’s also not been “restored” which means the car has been comprehensively gone through. I’ve worked on and dealt in enough of these that I know the difference. No wonder it’s been for sale for so long. $15-18k car.

    Like 0
  11. Dick Heinen

    Had one it was plum with silver strips Renault engine but went like hell. Go kart with a body. Only problem in the winter in Wisconsin got stuck on top of the snow! Sold for a new BMW 2002 tii

    Like 0
  12. gjf50

    Toke delivery of first 1973 JPS sent to dealership in Van Nuys CA in 1973.
    Drove the car for 18 years. Loved it and regret selling it to this day.
    P.S. I am 6′ 2″ and was 180 when I owned the car. Never had issues with fitting in it.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      gjf50, I had a 73 JPS # 021 also bought new, I was 5’11’ and 225, LOL had the car until it burned down 15 years latter

      Like 0
  13. Samanna

    JPS numbered badges were attached by Lotus dealers to Black Europas with gold striping, black interiors and 365 5 speed gearboxes.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      Samanna, that is correct, the car also came with a JPS Jacket, Key fob, cuff links, and the JPS plastic cigarettes holders and the round sticker with the races the F1 cars won, they looked like what was in the rear wing of the F1 cars

      Like 0
  14. Howard Leitch

    The first place I would check on the chassis are the welds between the front section and the center box section. The gage of the chassis steel is thin and this joint can be prone to cracking

    Like 0
  15. Paul

    The JPS numbered ones were all black in side the car not like this I had 021

    Like 0

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