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Big Valve Twin Cam: 1972 Lotus Europa

1972 Lotus Europa Front Corner

Some cars just aren’t photogenic and in our opinion the Lotus Europa is one of those. We really like the way these car’s look in person and they look even better setup for racing, but we don’t find too many affordable ones with the big valve engine. Well this 1972 Europa big valve has just been listed on eBay with no reserve and it’s currently only up to $565.

1972 Lotus Europa Engine

Here is that amazing 1.6 liter big valve engine. This motor is built proof, but it only produces 115 horsepower. This isn’t a lot of power for a sports car, but then again the Europa weighs less than 1600 pounds. There is one major problem with this car that has us concerned. The shift linkage to the transmission was cracked and replaced, but the mechanic that changed it never got it working right. Getting the linkage working right will take finding a Lotus expert that can adjust it correctly, but with any luck it should be an easy fix.

1972 Lotus Europa Interior

There are a couple other issues with the car. The car wasn’t originally painted burgundy, but was electric orange. This is a color that came from the Lotus paint palette, but we would like it better in the original orange. The other problem we can see is the wood dash panel, which needs a refinish. Neither of these things is a major concern, especially if the car is used for racing. Otherwise the interior looks to be in good condition.

Lotus Europa Race Car

If you know a Lotus expert that can do the work for you, this car could be a great buy. We would love to see this car all setup for vintage racing like this one we spotted at Leguna Seca during Monterey Auto Week.


  1. fred

    Looks aside, there’s nothing like driving a Lotus. They are great in vintage racing, especially on a tight little track

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  2. Ron

    One of the Lotus brand I’ve never owned but always wanted. Wish I had some money.

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  3. cardog

    I have never driven one of these. I imagine they are a GREAT drive. that being said, if you can’t sort out a shift linkage, you probably shouldn’t be considering setting up a race car.

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  4. Steve

    The first sentence of the description is spot on – – – these look weird in photos but quite nice in person. I’m not really big on fiberglass cars, but you can’t argue with the weight. I imagine these are a lot of fun on technical roads.

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  5. cardog

    I have seen quite a few of these in person. I actually have always liked the look and more so the early ones. I however have never had the opportunity to drive one.

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  6. Chris

    Had a chance to buy a first series Europa with the Renault engine and the bonded frame. I’ve been in old bathtubs that were higher off the ground than a Europa seat. Once in it is comfortable easy to drive, but the steering is really quick and light. Shift is a bit awkward. The ride wasn’t stiff at all. Soft but well damped. I liked it, wife thought it was a death trap. It needed a lot of fiddily repairs, including the shift issue. The Lotus Club that supports Europas had an excellent section on setting up the selector system. The only closed car I know that can go under a parking garage gate.

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  7. Steve

    I spent some time driving behind a Europa on the California Melee a couple of years ago. If you’re not familiar with this event, it includes a variety of road surfaces, including some gravel and rough pavement. The Europa had been lowered about 1-1.5-inches for track use, and it made horrible crunching noises as it scraped on rough pavement sections.

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  8. Chris

    4+ days left and bidding now at $3,111. The original body style had shallower sails behind the doors. Not that you could see anything behind you anyway. The twin cam engine versions came near the end of the production run and many of the bugs were worked out. Clean it up and you’d have a nice car. Lotus had a bright yellow that looked better than the orange.

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  9. John

    I owned a 74 twin cam. It was a great car to drive. But it often failed to bring you back home again. Interestingly, many of my problems were shift-linkage related. It had a weird little u-joint about half way back that was held together with some spring roll pins. Apparently the factory may have used some sort of hardened pins that were one of a kind. You could find lots of pins, but no hardened ones. I used to keep a little bag of them in the car along with a punch and a small hammer. I got pretty proficient at it. The other problems relate to the water pump which was a cassette type in the front of the engine. No real issue except that you had to take the engine out to replace it. There was literally no other way. It had another issue with its brakes. It used a twin vacuum booster chamber set-up that was unique in all the world and almost impossible to find parts for. I finally gave up and put a different master cylinder in it (a TR-4 part as I remember). And there was one other silly issue. The windshield wiper motor was held on to the firewall with sheet metal screws through the fiberglass. With time the screws enlarged the holes and the wiper motor would work free from the body. That led to the silliest looking thing I’ve ever seen. The wipers would sit still on the windshield and if you looked under the hood (front bonnet thing) the motor would be moving in little arcs that matched the intended wiper stroke. The car was like a giant kit car. But it was so much fun to drive. I miss it, but I really wouldn’t want it back.

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  10. Chris A.

    No question that the Europa series are “maintenance intensive”. But most of the problems are niggily detail issues that are component design or kit car construction issues. With reference to the shifter problem, my understanding is the shifteris reliable…if you are driving a right hand English version. I still want one, but I’ll need to retire to have the time to keep it running. Back in the day, an enthusiast car like a Lotus was one you constantly had to work on just to keep it running. Now age a Lotus 44 years and you’ll really have your hands full.

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    • CarNut from Winnipeg Member

      @Chris A.
      Why would the shift linkage be different between LHD/RHD? Does not appear to me that shifter location would change at all. Just curious.

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  11. Chris A.

    Dear CN, My comment about LHD/RHD may be restricted to the RHD racing version of the Europa that had a Hewland gearbox. If it was set up like the Hewland shifter on the Formula Ford, the shifter, even though in a RHD Europa chassis, may have been on the right hand side of the driver seat for a more direct path back to the gearbox. Someone who has seen the cockpit of the John Miles racing Europa can confirm if it has a right hand shifter.

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