Barn Find Bread Van: 1967 Lotus Europa S1

This 1967 Lotus Europa S1 is a true barn find, having been in a barn for 28 years before the current owner found it in 2000. They have too many cars and it doesn’t get used so they have it listed on eBay with a buy it now price of $28,000 or you can make an offer. It’s located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the owner says that “You can get in this Europa and drive it anywhere”, so plan on flying in and driving this one home. Life is too short to ship a car like this.

The Series 1, or S1, Europa is one rare ride. Lotus made fewer than 300 S1 cars and they’re rare. This is, I believe, a Series 1A with pockets in the tops of the doors for the removable side windows and a wood dash. The Europa is affectionately, or sarcastically, called the bread van. Being a lover of all vehicles and especially those with unusual looks or features, the Europa has always been a favorite/favourite of mine. Being 6′-5″ tall and with this car having a non-adjustable seat, it isn’t going to work too well for me, unfortunately.

It sure has a unique look and they’re as light as a 1,500-pound feather. Colin Chapman, the brain behind the Lotus line, was known for adding lightness rather than adding horsepower. Most of us know that this is a mid-engine car so the space under the rear boot is just that, storage space. Quite a bit of space, actually. There is more storage space up front under the bonnet and/or hood, or since it’s not a front-engine car, would that be the boot? Hmm..

You can see the pockets in the tops of the doors to house the removable windows. That’s cool, in a basic, ultra-lightweight sort of way. Is it the most convenient or waterproof window ever invented? No, no it’s not. There are basically two interior photos and one photo showing the driver’s seat and just about everything that I can see looks like new. This car is in amazing condition. The owner “did spray the paint with 5 coats of clear to save the white paint and to make it shine”, but other than that and some maintenance, it sounds like it’s original and in superb condition.

Mid-engine cars aren’t the most convenient when it comes to doing maintenance or even checking the oil, but they give a ride like no other. This should be Renault’s R16, 1,470cc inline-four with around 75 hp. They say that the “Engine and trans never open” and the owner says that they “did replace the motor and trans mounts.” They also “Rebuilt the front end and spax shocks on all 4 . New starter, Upgraded radiator fan. Inside coated gas tank.” Hagerty is at $22,800 for a #2 excellent car and $28,300 for a #1 Concours car. Have any of you owned or driven, or even fit into a Europa?

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  1. jamie Jamie Palmer Staff

    Nice write up, Scotty! I can only dream of fitting into a Europa, although for me it is girth, not height that is the issue. Would love a later JPS twin-cam version–that was my Mom’s favorite car of all time (she had to make do with a Spitfire).

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You are too kind, Jamie! And as I’ve said before, your mom was literally as cool as it gets!

  2. Dean

    I’m thinking more Ice Cream Van (of sorts).Might load up some frozen treats in a few Yeti coolers, play some Van Halen on the PA. Looks like one of the “love it or hate it” designs.

  3. Injuhneer

    Back when I was a younger, slimmer version of myself I had the opportunity to ride in and drive a ’73 JPS Europa.

    The older brother of a friend has owned it since new. It had languished for years in a garage. We (my friend and I) convinced the brother that to have such a car that is not roadworthy is sinful. :-)

    We set about detailing the car. After that it was brought to my shop where we lifted the body enough to inspect the mount points and to remove the gas tanks. They were perforated at the bottom from years of disuse.

    The tanks were cleaned, blasted and the bottoms soldered to repair the pinholes. Afterward they were painted and installed. Next was the fluid service. All changed.

    Last of all were the suspension bushings, brake lines and new tires.

    Once done it looked great (red with gold JPS trim and Car Constructor badges). It drove better than it looked. The car handled like it was on rails.

    Thanks for prompting some good memories. As far as I know that Lotus is still in the hands of the older brother but is sadly back in the garage and covered with boxes.

  4. John B

    For an 18 year old Tarzan-looking punk in the summer of ’78, driving one like this(a ’74?) for two hours all over Hilton Head Island was about as much automotive joy as I could dream of. Its mechanic owner trusted me while he worked on my 1970 Barracuda. Could not see much at all to the rear, but what a blast to zip around in. Lower than a snake’s belly and handled like a slot car!

  5. Frenchcarproblem

    This is a car that, with minor modifications, will fit taller people. I drive an S1A just like this one – ok, it’s yellow and not as nice – and I’m 6’4″. The bottom seat cushion sits in a recess – pop it out and make a thinner one. Also, the pedals are made to bolt in several locations so move them foreward. Be ready for people to chuckle when they see you getting in or out. These are cars devoid of creature comforts but can connect directly to your brain. Just think about turning, and that’s what they do.

  6. Bob

    I’m sure it’s an amazing car to drive, but it is hideous looking. The proverbial face only a mother could love. Truly a standout–possibly even uglier than the Aztek.

    • AF

      Bob thanks for your opinion. We’ll run with what you think on everything. Have you even seen one of these in person? Doubt it

    • angliagt

      Bite your tongue! This is one of the cleanest,
      coolest designs out there,plus they are incredible driving
      You probably think the new Nissans are beautiful.

  7. Bobk

    Memories. Mid to late 70’s. An S1 (British Racing Green) showed up on the used car lot of our local Ford dealer in small town, KS. No idea where he got it. One test drive later with the salesman holding on for dear life and I was hooked. Went to our (locally owned and thoroughly unimaginative) bank’s load department. The loan officer would not give me a loan for any amount of money because he could not find “Lotus” listed as a car manufacturer in his copy of NADA Used Car Values. And would not accept the prices in the classified section of the issues of Road & Track magazine that I brought along to show him how much it was worth. So, I didn’t get to buy my Lotus Europa S1.

    Probably for the best. I was young and thought that I was the next coming of Jackie Stewart. Probably would have wrapped it, and me, around a telephone pole somewhere.

  8. Bruce

    I have owned my 1969 S-2 Federal Europa since 1978 and have put over 150K miles on it. You are wrong about this car being difficult to work on as the rear trunk comes out and you can stand in the opening. All the belts and water pump is in the back and is extremely easy to work on.

    There is great support and following for these cars especially the original ones. Part are available and not expensive. There is one serious problem with S-1 cars in that the fiberglass of the body encloses the center beam sheet metal frame. If that gets wet and rusty you will have the devils own time getting it out.

    New frames are available from Spyder in England as either a direct copy or in truss tube form both are stronger but the tube frame is much stronger. The fuel tanks are a real problem but easy to fix if rusted. and not that hard to get out.

    Cooling can be a problem and NEVER, NEVER EVER NEVER put weight on the doors getting in. That is a serious weak point in the car. The rest is surprisingly solid and I used mine for and as a daily driver for better than 15 years and it only failed me once on a rainy night when a lower rear Trunnion support bolt sheered off. There was a small air bubble in the bolt which caused the failure. The rest for me was as solid as a Mercedes how ever much lighter.

    Of note the body fiberglass is amazingly thin and will get stress cracks. I developed a series of reinforcing fixes that dramatically reduce the flex of the body panels. A normal cat will flex the hood both front and rear if he walks on it. I can assure you I know from experience. Who ever purchases it fell free to contact me about how to reinforce the body if you are interested, the cost is minimal and can be done in a weekend.

  9. ron

    bruce-I will probably never own one; but your last sentence was very magnanimous and reeks of the flavor of this site and british car ownership in general.

    • bobk

      Please allow me to add my compliments to Ron’s, both in terms of the selfless offer of help and the overall level of knowledge found here on BF. I regularly deepen my knowledge of the auto world here.

      I’d love to get a Europa, could afford one now, I’ve slowed down enough that I might not kill myself in one. Unfortunately, my worn out knees might let me get in but I doubt that they would let me get out.

  10. Bob C.

    I remember having a purple Matchbox car like this when I was a kid.

    • CanuckCarGuy

      Same here, and I’ve loved the design ever since.

  11. boxdin

    Lusted after these for years, instead I play w more affordable 1988 Fieros. When the engine is in the middle its different.
    MR2s are great fun too and much lighter than Fieros.

  12. Martin Horrocks

    Great car but wishful pricing. The engine is a good one, no-one complains about an Alpine A110 1600 with the same motor (at $80000)!

  13. Joey Buzz

    Make sure you clean the rice pudding, and the fish and chips from the rug. Before buying.

  14. Derek

    Door hinge pins! A pal of mine had one; had to jack it to quite an angle to allow room for them to come out (downwards). He eventually sold it because the twink needed a rebuild and he was skint.

  15. Victor Anderson

    Love the Europa’s. My had had a 1970 model when I was a kid. This one here is a very early one – and one of the characteristics of this model is that the body is bonded, not bolted, to the chassis. Supposedly these early models handle even better than all of the later ones because of that. I actually was looking to buy one a couple of years ago — I wanted twin-cam model with 5-speed — but heck good ones are so expensive anymore I just went with a Lotus Elise instead.

  16. John Earl

    Owned one years ago. Quality of workmanship on interior is questionable at best. Not for the faint of heart when it comes to rearview. Make sure you have plenty of life insurance. Otherwise, underpowered but great car to drive!

  17. Rusty

    The first Europa thati ever saw in person was wrapped around a phone pole next to a twisty little road that I was enjoying a bit too much in my teens. I drove the rest of that trip more sedately. 😲

  18. Alan (Michigan) Member

    No one mentioned the red one in the garage in the background?

  19. JackT

    A good buddy restored a twin cam version in Virginia — at 6’6,” he drove with steering wheel between his knees. He had just finished the last coat of new white paint when his wife said lunch was ready. Afterwards, he came back out to find a neighbor’s little girl standing on the newly-painted roof. He screamed, she peed, hilarious!

  20. lotushealey

    A beautiful and well preserved example of the Lotus philosophy. Make it light till it breaks, go slightly stronger, then add horsepower for performance.

    As a 1970 S2 Europa owner since 1974, I can assure you these are a blast to drive and easy to work on when required. Great slalom car with handling on rails. Not a huge top end, but very quick. A bit of a challenge to get in and out for my 6’4″, but comfortable once you are inside.

  21. Whit

    My first Europa ride was in 68 in a 47 at Elkhart raceway, my uncle was a Lotus dealer and he then let me drive the S1 home. I was hooked at the age of 15. Got my first 72TC in 74 and have owned 9 Europa, Super 7 & a Turbo Esprit so far. Still have my TC and a S1. I’m 66 now and the kids want my cars…


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