Back Lot Find: 1970 Lotus Europa

The Lotus Europa was a mid-engine GT car built by the British company Lotus Cars between 1966-75. While the mid-engine concept was great for Grand Prix racing, it had not yet gained acceptance for street use and the Europa was built to chisel away at that. This 1970 edition, likely Federalized for the U.S. market, looks to have been sitting out in a back lot for some undermined period. A restoration is likely for the little car located in Morganville, New Jersey, and available here on eBay where the bidding is now $1,136. But the reserve hasn’t been triggered.

Series 2 of the Europa saw some number produced for export to the U.S. market, which we assume includes the seller’s car. Differences from the European models included changes to the body, chassis, suspension, and powerplant to comply with tighter U.S. D.O.T. and emissions standards. For example, a larger 1565cc engine was used instead of the 1470cc version, both supplied by Renault. And the front suspension was raised to make that end of the car taller and the headlights sit higher. The Europa was a zippy little car even in U.S. trim, capable of 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds with a top speed of 116 mph. Lotus built 3,615 copies of the Series 2, but we don’t know the number that made it to the U.S.

Not much is disclosed about the seller’s car other than we’re told it’s “in great condition for its age.” But that’s open to the buyer’s interpretation. While we don’t see any major flaws in the car’s body, not enough photos are provided to gauge whether rust is a factor anywhere. The yellow paint is rather faded, and it looks as though some underbrush may have surrounded the car at some point. Leaves may have also taken up residence in the small luggage compartment. The interior may be okay, and a good cleaning would determine if more work is needed there. A copy of a sale slip from 1973 shows the car changed hands in California for $4,000.

Hagerty estimates one of these GT’s in Concours condition could fetch $30,000. Fair condition might be closer to $8,000. While we don’t know the seller’s reserve – and there is no mention of what it might take to get this car running again – don’t be surprised if the reserve isn’t in that neighborhood.  These are cool-looking sporty cars, but everything I’ve read says that rearward visibility is non-existent. So, add an aftermarket backup camera to the shopping list.

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Comments

  1. mrobin

    These cars are small, I had a MGB the first time I saw one and was amazed that it was so low. I still like them, but as a British car guy I am pretty sure it might be a money pit to make it OK. I could be wrong, but as someone told me: LOTUS means “lot’s of trouble usually serious”.

    Like 8
    • JoeNYWF64

      One may be sitting even lower in the tiny Fiat X1-9 – imagine driving any of these cars today in a sea of sky-hi suvs with people texting & looking at the video screens on the dash, much less seeing you on the road.

      Like 10
      • Larry Brantingham

        Well, not really. The Lotus is a whopping 4″ lower than the Fiat. It did surprise me to learn that the Lotus is slightly longer and nearly 3″ wider than the Fiat.

        Like 2
    • Bruce

      I have had MGB’s, MGA’s Austin Healey 3000’s and a mix of Triumph’s and Jags and my Europa S-2 was the most reliable of them all. What generally happens is that those that are used to more durable machines push these delicate cars too hard or in the wrong way and then they break. Blaming all the problem on the car and not their own stupidity or carelessness. If treated right you can easily get 100K or more with little trouble. I got 200K on mine before I went to restore it. Drive it right and draft behind semi’s and you can easily get 40MPG from this car. Just remember EVERYTHING ON THE ROAD IS BIGGER THAN YOU ARE. That includes most motorcycles.

      These are amazing cars to drive and are about as close to a real race car as you can put on the streets. If you fit. Drive one and find out what you are missing.

      Like 9
  2. Carvallo

    Does Lotus use Whitworth or metric?

    Like 5
    • Bruce

      Mix of SAE and Metric fasteners. NO Whitworth parts and fasteners in mine. That was a generation or so older cars and was out of use by the time the Europa’s were built.

      Like 1
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    mrobin… Owned 2 S2s and they are pretty simple, plenty of parts support, and and a lot of fun to drive. Thing I liked about ours the body comes right off the frame easily if you are inclined to do a complete rebuild. One thing I like about this car is the roll bar, provided it’s been installed properly. Money pit doesn’t apply to these cars as there just isn’t that many parts to them.

    Like 5
  4. jimmyx

    Having had too many of these to keep track of over the years, I can say the needs on this one are many, and that’s assuming no frame rust which really requires a leap of faith. And, no, the interior will not just clean up. Also missing the ashtray so deduct another $400 for a repop. The most disturbing thing on the car is the muffler shop roll bar, and that someone actually paid a “shop” for that mechanical malpractice.

    Like 5
  5. CJinSD

    It always amuses me that a real Lotus is worth a fraction as much as a Lotus Cortina. You’d think a regular Ford Cortina would be worth more than either.

    Like 4
  6. Mike Hawke

    The frame is basically sheet metal and can rust easily…worst case being around front suspension. I can easily lift the frame by myself.

    The fiberglass is super thin…especially compared to a Corvette. It’s challenging to prepare for a good, lasting paint job. Two guys can easily lift the entire body.

    Like 2
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    If you need a frame new ones are around $1,000. A New Jersey car just might need one. Front suspensions are Spitfire, rears a bunch of easy to replace or repair tubing. Upholstery kits easy to get, forget ash trays… car’s to small to smoke in.

    Like 4
  8. Chinga-Trailer

    I suspect this is not so much a car but the idea a car can exist in that space if you replace and/or repair EVERYTHING that’s there now. The workmanship of these things was kit car like, the materials the very cheapest. Even when new, they were a car for someone who had a real car for transportation, and the Lotus for fun. I worked for one of the main west coast Lotus dealers in the 1970s. I’ve owned lots of cars . . . never a Lotus . . . and there’s a reason for that!

    Like 4
  9. Howie Mueler

    I had a 69 many years ago, this is not too bad, i hope it sells. Aftermarket mirrors and wheels.

  10. Motörhead Bob

    I always loved the Europa. A fun car that really turns heads. Glancing at the images that show the interior, I noted the passenger side door appears to have a large hole. Am I wrong, it looks like you can see the ground outside?

  11. bobhess bobhess Member

    That’s the fiberglass inner door panel with the vinyl peeling off of it. The back side fiberglass is a milky orange color due to the resin.

  12. CHARLES GOLDMAN

    I owned a 1974 Europa in metallic brown. Good looking car. I kept up with maintenance and the car returned very good service. The one and only thing that ever went wrong was the switch that turned on the cooling fans, so the car was always in danger of over heating. I guess I shouldn’t have driven it in New York City rush hour traffic every day for years. I must have gone through about 10 switches in the 5 years I owned the Lotus. I still loved it. A switch every 6 months really isn’t that bad for a British sports car, right?

  13. Melton Mooney

    Those look like Sebring rear view mirrors. $1000.00 right there.

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