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Are You Brave Enough? 1972 Lotus Europa Project

This is a 1972 Lotus Europa project. The car is not drivable as it currently does not have an engine and is completely disassembled.  The owner says all the parts are there with the exception of an engine. The craigslist ad can be seen here. The lack of an engine can be looked at as a bad thing or a good thing: bad because no engine means the new owner has to source one, or a good thing as the new owner has the choice of any engine to install. Think about the power to weight ratio of a sub 2,000 pound Lotus with an LS1 500+ hp V8 or even a Ford Mustang Ecoboost 4 cylinder turbo with 310-320 hp.

The interior-which technical is not there, again is another area where you can be creative with racing seats, a roll bar, etc., and outfit it any way the new buyer wants. Interior space in these cars is at a premium, but most drivers should be able to fit.

The seller claims that the body has been upgraded with bespoke modifications and now resembles a project car that was featured on a popular television car show. There’s a link in the ad for anyone that wants to see the show. The mid-engine configuration is where the big decisions need to be made. The seller has an adapter plate to mount a Toyota 16 valve 4AGE 1600 cc 4 cylinder engine (from a 1985-1987 RWD Toyota Corolla GTS), but that engine only produces 112 hp. Where’s the fun in only 112hp? The car is on a hoist, so any potential buyer can see a complete chassis and ancillaries denoting what it will take to complete this project. Still, the video is a very tempting proposition of what could be your next exotic project car. After all, how difficult could this project be? Thanks to Patrick S. for the tip.


  1. Rw

    Oh yeah prove my point once again,in all of my 58 years on this rock,I have never seen one of these in running order.

    Like 1
    • Chris

      LOL… I saw one at a British Car Show around 1991 (I even have pics of it). It was pretty nice, red, but had the Renault engine, not the Lotus. So even if I could afford it as a poor college student, I wasn’t that interested. (Now, my perspective is different). Asking price I think was $5k. A steal in hindsight. I wonder if that one is still running?!

    • Tonywa28
  2. Blyndgesser

    The original Renault engine had what, 80 hp? Even the John Player Special only had 130. The Toyota engine should do nicely.

    Like 4
  3. SMS

    Okay the stock HP of 105 or with the Toyota is not impressive. Let’s look at that for a moment with dry weights. ’72 Europa 1,355lbs / 105hp = 12.9 lbs/hp. 914-6 2,072lbs / 125hp = 16.6lbs/hp. Sunbeam Tiger 289 2,652lbs / 164hp = 16.2lbs/hp. The lower weight allows the car to accelerate faster, break later, turn in better, carry more speed through the corners.

    Europas are amazing cars. Being engineered for lightness and simplicity also means fragility. I think that I am safer on my motorcycle with all the gear than I ever was in my stock Europa. There are ways to improve the safety that are well known and a car in this state would be a good place to start.

    Already refreshed a Europa once and my back is no longer up to the small spaces and low work height. Personally, I would not change the engine if it were to add weight or power. Would upset the handling and break things faster. If you must have an upgraded engine go for a Renault Gordini one.

    Like 13
    • Russell

      “…break later, …” Yep, agree. Mine usually took me about 40 miles away from home before it broke down.

      Like 3
      • SMS

        You drove yours 40 miles from home? Brave man

        As my friend and fellow Europa owner once commented that he never tired of driving his Europa because each time it was the best 20 minutes of his driving life.

        My favorite Europa memory happened in Japan. Driving in the countryside with Mt Fuji clearly in the background. Such lovely winding roads. The Europa was so low that the Armco on the side of the road blocked any view of the lake or Mt Fuji. Joking aside I drove that little car thousands of km and only once broke down. True I treated it like a motorcycle and after every outing I washed it, lifted it, and inspected all the known risky parts and places. Rewarded me with hours of enjoyment.

  4. Mike Hawke

    Frame is sheet metal, and the fiberglass body flexes with a light touch (if this body shop didn’t add a hundred pounds of fiberglass). It’s a fragile car in every way. 10K is a large price for this project.

    Like 2
  5. Terry

    Put it on a VW pan and be done.

    Like 1
  6. Howie

    I had a 69, this price is crazy high, posted 12 days ago. Better deals on Ebay.

    Like 3
    • SMS

      A good family project as the body is light enough for three to pick up. Depending on the state of the chassis and list of usable parts it should go for less than half the asking price. Asking price might be close to what seller is into it. Easier to buy high than to sell high.

  7. Rw

    Good family project ,If you never leave your driveway.

    Like 1
  8. John

    I’d like to point out the non-stock headlight apertures and the small scoop in the front bonnet. Having pointed them out, there is nothing else to say except that this may be the only completely safe to operate Europa ever seen (unless parts fall on your toes). I’d love to have it, but my time on this planet is short and I don’t want to waste it.

    “How difficult can this project be?’ You do not have the ability to imagine.

  9. Chinga-Trailer

    I worked for one of the largest Lotus dealers in Socal when these were new – and even then, if you wanted to drive one, you needed two, one for the shop, the other waiting to go into the shop . . .

    Like 1
  10. John Walsh

    Simple. Ford Zetec engine and loom. Uprate suspension and brakes. SAAB electronic power steering. Suitable roll cage and away you go. Weight kept down, power up, stopping improved. What more do you need. Friend of mine races one and is Scottish historical champion for his group.

    Like 1
  11. Cobra Steve

    Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious.

    Having previously owned a 47 and a twin cam, I agree with everybody’s comments about how well these handle. In my opinion, with what I see here, I would be hard-pressed to pay more than $2000 for it.

    But just remember, there’s always an a** for every seat. If we all have the same taste, it would be a very boring world indeed. We’d all be driving black 1952 Chevrolets. No offense directed towards the Chevy crowd.

    Like 4
  12. Rw

    Best new puppy name,Lotus it will Never leave driveway.

    Like 1
  13. bill tebbutt

    Nonsense. Had an S2 for 8 years. Summer car. drove it regularly. Never let me down. Renault engine, with Hermes cam and exhaust, Weber sidedraft. Went like the clappers.


    Like 1

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