$350 Lotus Europa Project

This 1969 Lotus Europa may be a little rough and it may be missing its drivetrain, but for $350 how could you go wrong? The body looks decent and there is a title included in the deal. This could the perfect base for a custom project or it could be turned into a vintage racer. The possibilities are only limited by your budget. It’s located in New Hyde Park, New York and is listed here on craigslist.  Just be sure to tell ’em Barn Finds sent you.  Thanks goes to Doc for sending in this tip!

The fiberglass body look decent, but I’m going to guess the frame has some rust. That wouldn’t be the end of the world though because replacements are available. Personally, I’d like to see this with a modern four-cylinder out back or at least a Lotus Twin Cam. What would you do with it? V8 power or maybe an electric conversion? We just hope that someone can rescue this poor Brit and do something with it. Any takers here?

Fast Finds


  1. DrinkinGasoline

    Stick a Ford 2300 in it and let the Grandchildren run the crap out of it on the back 40. Helmets mandatory ! I paid twice that amount for a new two seater 16 hp go-cart 14 years ago for the kids. Just keep ’em under 40mph and keep the temp tires rated at 50mph. Cheap fun.

  2. Neil G.

    Give it to Ed from Wheeler Dealers and he will have it looking new in one TV hour.

  3. Van

    It even comes with lots of spares.

  4. Dolphin Member

    These are very light, so go like the wind with a little 4-banger….but….

    Look at one close up, and then try to get in and out of it. Of course not many people use these as DDs—-maybe nobody—-but up close they seem very un-user friendly, crude, and spindly. Have a look at the rear suspension struts, and other pieces.

    That said, I would love to use it on some narrow country lane in the UK. Just not on an Interstate.

    • Dave Wright

      Both of my brothers used these as daily drivers. One caught fire and burned to the ground sitting at a stop light and the other brother was taking a new employee for a ride and slid into a large retaining wall at speed. They have a decidedly kit car feeling but once you put one on……they are great fun. I think there are still a couple of them laying around one of the airplane hangers…..but not driven often any more. This would make a fun track or autocross car. I saw one with a Mazda rotary that was blindly fast.

      • G Richard nicholson

        Hello Dave
        Do you know of a Europa that´s for sale? Thanks Richard.

    • Bruce Best

      I have one and they are great on an interstate and for cross country highway travel and I have seen milage right at 40 MG which helps because the gas tanks are so small-7 gallons per side.

  5. Jeffro

    Sorry, but the styling just doesn’t do it for me.

    • Dave Wright

      These are a true Colin Chapman car………he could care less about style. It was all about getting around a track. Like Enzo, he really didn’t like building cars for the street.

    • Britcarguy

      The Europa design was submitted to Ford as a possible body for their LeMans car in the 60’s. Ford and Lotus couldn’t agree so Ford went on their own. The rear bumper is surplus Ford Cortina and both front and rear body shapes were dictated by the bumper. Not sure where Chapman sourced the front bumpers. From the S2 models, electric windows were installed – unusual for a sports car, but Chapman again sourced surplus GM electric drives with a single lifting arm that fit and were cheaper than designing a standard lift mechanism. I’ve had an S2 and S4 and they are great cars but not daily drivers.

  6. Trickie Dickie Member

    Never have liked these. Looks as if someone started to build a pickup truck and gave up. They really thought the design of the rear was good?

  7. Sam

    I like the junkyard spare tires!

    How about a Honda Civic 4 banger and transaxle OR go electric.

  8. Spridget

    There was a guy on a forum I follow who sold his for $200 . . . it was complete but with a lot of rust. For $550, you could have a mostly compete Europa, and you could probably get it on the road for less than $2k. Really wish I’d bought that car right now.

  9. Skloon

    24 hours of lemons candidate here

    • Dolphin Member

      That would be unfair to just about all the other cars in the filed…..assuming the Lotus actually makes it through the 24 hours. That is not a bet I would take.

  10. Michael DRANSFIELD

    Reading the listing it doesn’t even come with the chassis. The price is just for the body.

  11. stevel

    Two guys riding in a Europa. Passenger says” great little car. I’ve never been out this way before. What’s this wall along the road?” Driver ,”That’s the curb”. Great start to a project of love- def not a restoration.

  12. craZee

    If you want to save $10,000, take $350 out in the backyard and burn it instead of buying this car with it.

  13. Brad C

    Just the worst looking thing ever. I’d cut the wagon area off and make a Lotus-Camino out of it, or something.

  14. Brad C

    Just the worst looking thing ever. I’d cut the wagon area off and make a Lotus-Camino out of it, or something.

  15. Chuck Foster 55chevy Chuck Foster

    I had a European (French) version Series 1 that had 2 Webers and a header on it, never tagged it but was fun to drive around the subdivision. It had pop out side windows, got it for $1200 and flipped for $2500 after I got it running back in the early 90s. My 2000 MR2 Spyder handles similar,not strange since Toyota owned Lotus in 80s and they both handle like the 91 Lotus Elan I had. The MR2 even has similar dash/controls layout as the Elan. This would make a fun autocross car, but they are a stamped metal wishbone chassis, and very prone to rust. To make it worse, it seems like the fiberglass body is bonded to the frame, instead of bolted. They are small, but at 5′-11 I fit ok, better than a Magnum Ferrari DIno kit I tried on once, my head hit the roof.

    • HeadMaster1

      55chevy-I don’t recall Toyota ever owning Lotus, but GM did and had them develop the ZR1 twin-cam V8. GM also owned 49% of Isuzu, thus the whored Lotus out to Isuzu for those “Handling by Lotus” cars……But Lotus has always been more of a “Gun for hire” engineering company, than a actual vehicle manufacturer, not to say they didn’t make some awesome cars along the way. I think they are owned by some Thai Investment group currently……

  16. TRC

    2 of them around me just sitting then I have seen some more at shows. Not to sure if I would want to deal with one or not?

  17. John

    My wife always called ours a bread van. Horrible car. I loved it anyway. If you ever drive one any distance, you will understand. Mine was a 73 Twin-Cam. I learned how to change jets in webers with it. In fact, I learned to do almost everything with it. It usually always needed to have something fixed. I always fixed it. I wish it were still here. I’m retired now, and I have the time it needed. Build it carbon fiber frame and put a Honda twin cam back there (shouldn’t be too hard to mount a complete transverse Honda Motor/trans back there.

    …or at least replace the Lucas stuff. BTW, I drove mine across the United States from LA to Washington DC. It got over 40 mpg. I had to stop in Utah to buy it a new thermostat. I had to stop in Kansas City to buy it a set of rear tires. I needed to stop in Ohio to get it a battery, but I never did — I just kept it running till I got home. I hated that car. I wish it were still here to hate.

    Like 1
  18. JagManBill

    add says body only guys so no rusty frame to worry about….

  19. Big Ed

    Just wondering if Hennessey Performance in Texas would turn this into a Venom GT for me , with a big enough bag of money?? It doesn’t have to be too fast, maybe 270 mph or so. Don’t laugh, they’ve already done it, and Bugatti is still wondering how they did it with a Chevy LS engine!?

  20. F.G. Kaye

    I would swap in a Mazda RX8 Twin Turbo Option.

    I would also try to find a 5 Speed Transmission, for the Lotus Europa.

  21. Bruce Best

    The Europa was an exercise in lightness. I know because when it came time to restore mine after 15 years on the road I totally disassembled the car and put the frame over my shoulder to take it to the strippers to remove all the paint. I am doing a frame off total restoration and after seeing how the car was put together I find it more impressive than most of you do.

    The engine is small and low powered compared to new cars but the mechanical bits are certainly strong enough when treated properly. These are delicate cars and the performance is very high because of the light weight and the very efficient use of structure. That they race and win often against Corvettes with just a small 4 cylinder engine should tell you something.

    The biggest problem is if you are too tall or too fat you DO NOT FIT. If you are the right size it can be wonderful. I will also teach you defensive driving because everything including many Harleys are bigger than you are. Yes a big Harley Davidson Motorcycle weight more than one of these. Typically a S2 will top out at 1250 pounds with gas, and oil.

    Treated right they will perform well and reliably. I put almost 175K on mine before I started the restoration. If you need more power find a Renault engine and transmission that is 1800 CC or larger and just flip the ring and pinion like Lotus did on this one. It will fit perfectly and with fuel injection I have heard of someone that was getting 50 mpg on his.

    Just remember you will be looking up at the wheel centers on semi trucks, but fun if driven properly and low cost if maintained. Hard to beat. I love mine that is part of the reason I have held on to it for over 35 years.

    Like 1
    • bog

      Bruce Best – I’m 6’3″ and I adjusted the seat back to the firewall and fit just fine. I also have really long legs. I’ll freely admit that doing the “scissors” with my body getting in, nor the rolling out to the pavement was pretty & wouldn’t even attempt that today. But, once in, sheer comfort….stubby shifter exactly where I wanted it. My buddy’s car…’68 European model purchased new in Germany. BRG with black interior. Renault engine in his. Not super quick, but go-kart handling. None of the other guys with small British or Italian sports cars could stay with him/us in the back roads of Germany. I still like that series sail panels rather than later “cut-down” ones.

      Like 1
    • cash

      Hey Bruce, I have a complete 72 Europa that my brother in law parked 43 years ago, still complete, on wheels with full interior, bits and drivetrain. I know some like projects, at least this is a complete car. let me know if you know of someone looking for a winter project.

  22. Edward Skakie

    In the mid-’60s, I thought the Europa was my heart’s desire, until I saw one in a wrecking yard, with the groceries still scattered around, in which a lady died when she went through an intersection, on the amber light, in her curb lane, during which time a loaded dump truck, in the curb lane crossways to her right, ran through the intersection in anticipation of synch’ing with his green light: the result was that his left front wheel went right through the passenger compartment. The car was not too tall from the engine compartment forward.

    At that point, looking at the mess (it took me 3 or 4 minutes just to figure out what it used to be, and the Renault engine was decisive), I re-assessed the strength of my desire to live a longer life, and it did not include owning, or driving, a Europa, or any other vehicle that did not have a modicum of occupant protection. I made a smart decision. This from a guy who raced Minis and drove a number of them (perhaps too) enthusiastically on the street.

    It always used to be said, at the time, that Chapman kept lightening vital parts until they failed, then put a bit back. I always wonder: how many drivers died because of this practice?

    • Randy Beloff

      To Edward,
      Accidents happen and people die everyday in just about any make or model you can think of.
      My ’72 Europa was one of the neatest car I have ever owned or driven, and considering how few were built, you would be privileged to enjoy a real hand built British sports car.
      I fly restored WWII aircraft, which are very demanding, like the Lotus. Each time I strapped in, I asked myself, “Am I willing to die today for the opportunity to fly this airplane today? Hell yes!” It’s the same thing driving a race car that has been made street legal.
      Like almost all of the former owners, I wish I still had mine.

      Like 1
    • Randy Beloff

      To Edward, accidents happen and people die everyday in just about any make or model you can think of.
      My ’72 Europa was one of the neatest car I have ever owned or driven, and considering how few were built, you would be privileged to enjoy a real hand built British sports car.
      I fly restored WWII aircraft, which are very demanding, like the Lotus. Each time I strapped in, I asked myself, “Am I willing to die today to fly this airplane today? Hell yes!” It’s the same thing driving a race car that is street legal.
      Like almost all of the former owners, I wish I still had mine.

  23. Concinity

    The comments on how small and light these cars are reveal why Americas biggest selling vehicles aren’t cars, they’re trucks weighing more than 5500lbs, and this is considered rational by many people. Whereas the Lotus weighs less than and would be safer than a motorbike, and these motorbikes can outweigh it? Madness.

  24. Mark-A

    Honda TypeR 2000 VTec or a 1.8 VW Golf GTI engine for a laugh & reliability & most importantly SPEED! Adapt the kit that is used to install either in the Lotus Elise for Fun!

  25. Michael

    Chip Foose did a resto mod of one of these for a car nut who used hang out at Jay Leno’s garage. The guy used to race it until he blew the engine and parked it under a tarp. Jay heard about it and the guys from Chips show “Overhaulin” go get it then do a secret revamp. They got Lotus to provide a brand new four banger and tranny, Chip redesigned the rear suspension and then did some pretty neat body mods to it, tucking in the front and rear bumpers, smoothing the front headlamps for a cleaner look. sorting the interior etc. I’m not a fan of the Europa’s styling and Lotus cars really don’t do much for me, except the old Elan, but I think Chip did manage to do a decent job here. For $350 you really cant go wrong

  26. mitch

    What ever became of this? Was it sold?

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