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Barn Find Brit: 1969 Lotus Europa

I keep forgetting to ask our resident British car expert Jamie if he’s owned a Lotus, but I’m guessing yes? This barn find Brit is a 1969 Lotus Europa and the seller has it listed on Hemmings with an asking price of $6,995. It’s located at a vintage car dealership in Carnation, Washington.

The Europa is such an interesting design, I wonder if anyone has custom made a pickup box on the back for hauling duties? Ok, that would look even more strange than they did from the factory. The “classic” Europa was made for the 1966 to 1975 model years.

I know that I’m strange, as if I had to mention that, but can’t you see at least a flatbed on the back of this car with a couple of dirt bikes strapped to it? I know, sacrilege, especially since a Lotus is known for its handling. Even this bread van shape was carefully designed, it wasn’t just a last-minute let’s-get-this-thing-done pragmatic exercise. I love the style of these cars as I’ve said before, being a lover of all things unusual.

The seller says that this Lotus has 66,200 miles and it “Appears original and complete”, but then they say that it has had “one respray in maroon over original red paint. Paint code L05”. It was “Last licensed in 1980.” The next owner will have to be a big fan of these cars and hopefully also somewhat of an expert on finding parts and restoring them.

There aren’t many photos of the engine, just some partial shots and details like the image above. This car should have a Renault 16 engine, which would be a 1.6L inline-four with around 87 hp. The seller says: “Engine and transaxel [sic] in unknown condition – Engine turns over by hand.” With a Hagerty value of $19,400 for a #2 excellent condition car, the next owner will have their work cut out for them in order to restore this car and stay below that number. Are there any Europa fans out there?


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Scotty, while I would love a Europa if I could fit in one, that’s hopeless for me. My mother loved the black/gold JPS versions as her favorite car of all time, but she had to make do with a JPS key fob for her Spitfire, which now that she’s gone is one of my most cherished possessions. I hope someone buys this one and gets it back on the road where it belongs! Nice writeup!

    Like 6
  2. bobk

    And I would love to have one as well, I even got a test drive in one (several decades ago) so I know I can fit. Loved the “cornering on rails” feeling BTW.

    Unfortunately, those same decades and a bad motorcycle accident left me mostly without cartilage in my knees. So, while I’m sure that I could still get into a Europa, I might have to be buried in it because I’m not at all sure that I could get back out.

    Like 7
  3. Air Boss

    I was a press-fit into a race-prepared D Production Lotus Europa-Renault and other than the initially unexpected lift-oversteer (due to purposely designed-in rear toe-out), it was a fun car to go lapping with.

    Like 1
  4. Jeff

    I never understood these cars. What’s the purpose of the rear half, other than looking like a sedan delivery without the space?

    Like 3
    • h60memo

      I for one prefer the bread van years.

      Like 2
    • Derek

      It’s to keep the engine in, Jeff.

      Like 8
      • Jeff

        All 1.6L of that enormous four cylinder, you mean? Heck, you could put a Viper V10 back there.
        My comment was sarcasm, as I’m sure was yours. The point is, the design is awkward, at best. I’m all for wasting a car’s footprint for the sake of looks, but the Lotus is compromised for no good reason.

        Like 3
      • EuropaGreg

        The Europa is very low! It’s hard to judge from pictures unless it’s next to a “real” car. The engine sits between (not on top of) the “Y” part of the backbone frame and you sit in front of it (with twin gas tanks between you and the engine, yikes). The Renault engine was pretty tall, hence the sails. The later Ford-Lotus twincam was lower and so the sails were cut down.

        Here’s a pic of my 1974 next to a Mazda 3 to give you a sense of scale.

        Lastly. The styling is an aquired taste but it looks much better in person, and especially in motion. Petrolicious just posted a video of a ’69 on their YouTube channel and you can see the beauty of it in the overhead shots especially. I am definitely biased, so YMMV.

        Like 5
    • Geoff

      There’s not much more room in the engine bay, no way a v10 would fit! The whole car weighs 1350lb. They’re tiny. Agreed that they’re not much to look at but you don’t need to look at it when you’re behind the wheel, grinning ear to ear. :)

      Like 4
      • Jeff

        Lol I give up. Again, the V10 comment was sarcasm. As much as I typically admire Lotus’s engineering concepts, I admittedly have never found the Europa very appealing.

        Like 3
      • Don dump

        That crossflow DOHC twin Weber side draft engine is capable of 100 hp/ liter.

        I’m grinning. :)

        Like 1
  5. Air Boss

    On the Type 47 race version, the roll cage forms a very rigid, full space frame, which is covered by the flying buttresses.

    Like 1
  6. bobhess Bob Hess Member

    Have owned two S2s. Wanted to build a vintage race car out of the second one but every time I looked at the amount of work it would take to keep me alive if we wrecked it I backed out of it. Air Boss has it… got to build a complete cage around the whole car to feel good about flogging it around a race track. As for why it looks like it does, Chapman was in competition with Ford for the design of what produced the Ford GT race cars. Either way, early Europa or Ford GT… Just sit around with a cold beer and look at them. Almost as satisfying as driving them.

    Like 2
    • scottymac

      “…in competition with Ford…”, or did you mean Lola?

      Like 1
      • Britcarguy

        The version I heard was that it was indeed Lotus and if Lotus had a better production organization, they would have got the nod instead of Ford.

        Like 0
  7. CanuckCarGuy

    I’ve liked the look of these, ever since buying a Matchbox version in my youth. Purpose built and looking like something that would slide through the air effortlessly – my second favourite Lotus, after the Esprit turbo.

    Like 2
  8. Al_Bundy John m leyshon Member

    The Lotus Elan 67 – 70 vintage is amazing. Front engine, rear drive, 1275 cc fits perfect. Grew up around these , close friends father. Still runs a late ’50s Lotus 11 in vintage races. Now working on Sprites. Have a fondness for Lotus.

    Like 1
  9. Spacelifer James Member

    Simple and light enough to make a great father daughter project! Plus, it will fit her perfectly!

    Like 3
  10. Bruce

    I am an owner of a 69 S2 and the design is largely functional. The air drag on any car is the largest energy consumer above 40MPH±. The Europa has one of the lowest drag listings of any car even today. The flat bottom and the side sills produced almost no drag. That is why combined with light weight they were able to go as fast as they did.

    When thinking of a Europa think of a Formula 2 Race car of the day and then put a fiberglass body around it. That is basically what a Europa is. When I kept my foot out of the noise peddle I could get up to 40 MPG and going down hill from Denver to Kansas City I typically got close to 45 MPG. This is at the time when the average economy car got in the hight teens.

    The shape is there for a reason. The lightness is there for the same reason. To make a low cost car perform and handle better than anything else on the road. In large measure they succeeded.

    As for parts and restoration go YouTube and get on and look for owners and cubs. The parts are almost totally from mass sports car makers like Triumph, MG, Austin, Morris. The fiberglass is available the only difficult part is the glass for the windshield and curved glass for the side windows.

    As for the rear window it is less than 6″ high, and if you drive one at night the headlights of most cars goes directly into the mirror and into your eyes. I mounted a Spitfire Luggage Rack on to the back of my engine / rear trunk and the turn up at the end was a perfect fit to block most of the headlight from blinding me.

    These are are tremendous fun, and very low cost to operate. I would suggest purchasing a second gas tank so you can carry more than 7 gallons of gas. and If anybody cares I will help them reinforce the body to make it much stronger with a weight penalty of about 7 pounds. Pull the carb and put in a single Webber, or if you have the time and funds higher compression pistons, valves and crank and you will have a car that will be very close to the Ford engined versions but with much better ability to service as water pump and all other critical items are located at the rear of the engine where they are a snap to get to.

    The only other thing is get used to people following you home, or to your destination. That has happened regularly to me over the years. There are so few of these and they are so different the car nuts are attracted to them. Enjoy as this is a good buy.

    Like 5
    • Robert

      Bruce, I am building a very non-stock 1969 S2. What can you share about strengthening the body?

      Like 0
      • Bruce

        Robert I have asked the Site Administrator to send you my personal E-Mail. I would be more than happy to help you.

        Like 0
    • scottymac

      I have to ask, as you seem knowledgeable. I much prefer the style of the Alpine A110, did they use the same engine as the Europa? Did Chapman ever sanction use of Gordini parts for more speed in the Europa? Or were most people satisfied after scaring themselves with the stock Renault?

      Like 0
      • Rosco5000

        The word in most publications is that Renault wouldn’t sell the Gordini/Alpine parts to Lotus as it would be too much of a competitor to their performance line

        Like 0
  11. Robert Gressard

    Notice the black nose badge. I had a 69 Europa in 1969. The story I got at the time was the black badge one year only was homage to the passing of Jim Clark. I don’t know about the other Lotus models in !969. Any thoughts. Bob

    Like 1
    • Joe

      I think Jom Clark died on 1972.

      Like 0
  12. Larry Smith

    I love Lotus cars ,have driven many although there a tight fit for me,but i think the seller will be hard pushed to get his asking price ,considering the condition,

    Like 0
  13. hank rice

    I think I looked at this car a while (few months back) and being a ’69, and in view of the vin# it would appear that this one is a type 54, of which very few were brought to the US, and were not to US standard for headlamp height and thus a different body shell from the US certified S2…many like the type 54 for it’s sleeker, lower look as the body shell and front suspension are different from the type 65 (more common ) S2…this is a desirable car in the Lotus community…although it has a fiberglass body, beware of rust issues in the frame…

    Like 1
  14. karst hoogeboom

    Very successful as race cars… slightly modified

    Like 1
  15. hank rice

    …Jim Clark died at Hockenheim race track in Germany in 1968…

    Like 2
  16. Richard Nicholson

    I have owned several Europas and restored one last year to relive my youth, now long past. I now live in southern Spain and intended to keep the car but I had a call from a guy 200 miles away asking to see it because there are only 3 in Spain. He arrived with a trailer and a thick wad of cash. As my wife loves the look of the car but hates being driven in it… I regretfully sold it.

    It´s my bucket list car and I´ve seen this one for sale for a few months now with no takers. It´s a 3K car, no more and even then it looks risky because it seems to have been in a flood judging from the photos.

    Wherever I went in Alicante I was swamped with people wanting to look an photograph the car: low flying: wonderful handling: a dream to own. I want another!

    Like 2
    • Bruce

      Arrest me Yellow is one of the better cars. I have a question what are the wheels you have on yours. I have Real MiniLights but your are very different and I have never seen that style on any Europa.

      Like 0
  17. Chris A.

    Hank Rice raised the correct issue. If the frame is rusted and/or the fiberglass is in bad shape, you have expensive, safety related problems. On the later Europas the body was bolted to the frame. On the early cars the frame was bonded in and very difficult to repair or remove. All said and done, driving a nice one is a true Lotus experience. But I think you are more vulnerable in one of these than on a motorcycle. Especially in SUV pickup truck traffic. At 5’10” and 170lb I was comfortable in one, just.

    Like 1
  18. Gordon Lehnert

    I owned a1971-72 Lotus Europa. Loved it, loved everything about it. I learned more about it reading you comments than I learned from owning mine. I went through 3 motors (warrentied the first 3 years I owned it. I still loved driving it and made numerous trips up and down the esst coast from Baltimore to Miami. Then the divorce came and the Lotus went. I still miss her, the Lotus, anx always enjoy pictures or articles about them because you don’t see them on the road anymore. Even the new ones you only see in mags. Thanks for the memories, if I were 20 yrs younger perhaps i .would rescue this one. Thanks.

    Like 0
    • Ken

      I have a 69 lotus europa that I’m restoring mine is designed to unbolt from frame. Just wondering if the original Renault motor is enough or should I go with something different . Is there any other improvements I should make? I live in ontario canada

      Like 0
      • hank rice

        …the Europa is an enigma in that it does indeed have performance, but only enough to make it a fun car to drive…that said, because of it’s superb handling qualities, many often desire more speed to go with it and, in keeping with tradition, performance costs money and lots of performance costs lots of money…and with all that being said, there are quite a few choices that will enhance the performance of the Europa…stock will get you great handling and a top of 115 mph or thereabouts and it comes up rather quickly due to the gearing…more than that is going to cost you…careful not to get bitten by the bug…

        Like 1
  19. Air Boss

    Upgrade path from Renault –> induction upgrade –> Gordini –> Twin Cam –> induction upgrade –> BDA –> Hart 420R, etc. How fast and expensively would you like to go (and corner and stop, remembering to add cooling, tires, suspension, and braking as you add HP and kinetic energy)?

    Like 0
  20. hank rice

    …I suppose I could have put it more simply by saying that the Europa is simply “marginal” in almost all areas of it’s engineering and construction with almost any change requiring a change in something else…aside from there being a host of NLA parts which are going to add to the fun…

    Like 0

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