Bread Van: 1970 Lotus Europa

Colin Chapman built some of the most incredible driving and racing machines ever, but his motto of “Simplify and lighten” didn’t always produce good looking cars. The Europa could be one of the more unusual looking cars to come out of Lotus. This 1970 Lotus Europa was recently found in a barn in California, it can now be found here on eBay.

Due to the mid mount placement of the Europa’s engine, the rear quarter panels had to be tall, giving it a “Bread Van” appearance. While this design might not look the best, it actually resulted in impressive aerodynamics. This design could have end up being the design for Ford’s GT40 Le Mans car, but Chapman was determined that the car be called a Lotus. Henry Ford II didn’t like that idea, so he went with Lola instead and Chapman put this into prduction.

To keep the Europa light, Lotus installed a modified Renault 1.6l straight four in the back of the car. With emissions equipment installed, the engine only puts out 80 hp, but then again, the car only weights around 1,400 pounds. The seller hasn’t been able to start this engine, but says it turns freely and that the previous owner claims it was running three years ago.

The interior looks to be complete, but is in need of some attention. All the major components should be salvageable, but it appears there are some wiring issues. British cars from this era aren’t known for having great electrical systems anyway, so this could be a huge deterrent for some buyers. A courageous DIYer should be able to tackle the job with a wiring diagram and some luck.

Some cars look better in person than in photos and the Europa is one of those cars. It’s still not a beautiful car, but if you’re more concerned with handling than looks, this could be the one for you. Clean examples can typically be picked up around $10,000, so this one might be overpriced. What do you think this nimble Bread Van is worth in its current condition?

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Comments

  1. Seth Karpen

    So what is under the tarp on the left in the first photo?

    • paul

      boat & trailer.

  2. paul

    No doubt Europa TC will have something to say about this. This pains me to see this car like this, I am at a loss for words.

    • paul

      street legal F1 cars of their day.

  3. cradog

    How come all old Europa interiors look like this if they’ve been sitting? What did Chapman make ’em out of, cardboard wrapped in vinyl?
    How would these take to a Honda S2000 engine swap?
    …I actually like the looks of these far better than the later ones with that awful kink/drop in the rear pillar

    • paul

      The interiors of these cars were masonite rapped by vinyl. Basic, low weight, much like the lotus Elise, power to weight ratio all the way for Collin’s cars. & why does everyone always want to alter cars from original, especially one’s that are basically all their.

  4. Horse Radish

    FLIPPER
    largely unsubstantiated and then retracted claims about the car’s POTENTIAL, that’s all.
    A cracked fiberglass body basket case Lotus with a Renault engine at a high reserve price.
    I don’t think so.
    Next

  5. chop

    a Sonett-a 914 – and now a europa- great memories all!

  6. Dolphin Member

    18 bids so far and only at $1800…..people are being cautious, as they should be, even if the car is from the genious mind of Colin Chapman. They handle well when in good shape, but they are not an everyday car and not for everyone, especially those with large/tall bodies. Just standing next to one can scare you silly, especially if you intend to share the roads with 18-wheelers, which most UK drivers weren’t doing back in the 1960s when this car was first designed. That, and the inevitable quirkiness of a 1960s Chapman car, has kept values low—no more than around $10K for a regular Series 2 like this, if in #2 condition, which this one is definitely not. I’m also betting it won’t make the reserve.

    • paul

      Yeah I wouldn’t like driving this next to a guy in a hummer yacking on his cell. & no they aren’t worth much even in good shape, but they were a blast to drive & no I couldn’t fit in one today, ah the good old days.

  7. Mark W

    Agree about the flipper with likely a high reserve comment.

    “but it appears there are some wiring issues….” Some standard from the factory!

    This thing looks like a project car gone awry. You can tell Colin built these things with spit and fiber board. How did Kelmark GTs earn such derision and scorn ,and Lotus got all the praise?

  8. Wiley Robinson

    Push it back in the barn and buy a decent Fiat X 1/9 and avoid all the issues these cars had (many of which involve the fiberglass and trying to fix 30 year old rotten plastic stuck to rusty steel).

    Not to mention this has been a terminally ugly car since it’s inception.

    It says “Lotus” on it but that does not make every car from Colin Chaplin a winner. It just wasn’t the best looking puppy from the litter.

  9. Rancho Bella

    It boils down to the frame…….good or bad. I am more into the Twin Cam “ropas” but I like them all. Always on the prowl for and S1 with bonded frame.

  10. Ron Southan

    “This design could have end up being the design for Ford’s GT40 Le Mans car, but Chapman was determined that the car be called a Lotus. Henry Ford II didn’t like that idea, so he went with Lola instead and Chapman put this into production.”
    Never heard that one before.

  11. Richard

    I’m with Ron…..I never heard anything about Lotus having a part to play in the history of the original GT40. It was always Eric What’s-His-Name and Lola that formed the basis for the general design of the GT40. Besides, I think Ford wanted to go racing internationally with their 289 V8, they probably didn’t have a little 4-cylinder engine that could handle that kind of punishment.

  12. Dolphin Member

    @Richard:

    You are thinking of Eric Broadley at Lola, one of the best of the old school race car designers. He had a big role in race car design after WW2.

  13. Chris

    The steel frame rust used to be a deal killer on Europas, but $3,000+ and shipping from GB will get you a brand new Europa chassis much better than the original. A rusted out Europa chassis with a good body and drive train might give you enough stuff to build a superb Europa. Of course you’d be underwater, but you’d have a great Europa, especially if you went with a big valve twin cam and 5 speed. Or really got into it with a Honda 2000 engine. This Europa deserved better, and may still have $1,800 of value, but not much more, especially with those non stock wheels. As far underwater as you’ll be with this one, better buy the boat along with it, at least that’ll float..

  14. The knowing

    The twins cams with the 5 speed were seriously awful cars. Backing up into a curb would wipe out the gearshift linkage and the transmission. The engines had very short lifespans.

  15. sunsync

    Note the black logo rather than the usual Lotus yellow and green in tribute to and mourning for Jim Clark.

  16. Frank Howard

    “The twins cams with the 5 speed were seriously awful cars. Backing up into a curb would wipe out the gearshift linkage and the transmission. The engines had very short lifespans.”

    Couldn’t be more untrue. I have backed my 5-speed twin cam into a curb. The problem was, the curb held the shift linkage in the forward position. Needed to move it to the rearward position in order to get into 1st gear and pull forward. Was able to get it into neutral and then pushed it forward enough so that I could get it into 1st. Could remedy the problem by fabricating a protective cage or by ceasing to back into curbs. I chose the latter. As far as longivity is concerned, the engine has given me thousands of miles of service without problems other than oil leaks. Am planning on taking it on an 800 mile trip this summer plus the usual 10-12 local car shows.

  17. Big Kahuna Motors

    This car is now in my workshop in Switzerland. Started restoring the car… in august it should be finished… Great car.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Please keep us updated on your progress. Perhaps we could do a followup post after you complete the restoration.

  18. Chris A.

    As a Europa owner wanna be, I’m curious how the Swiss owner made out with his restoration. Wonder if it ever was completed and how much it costs to restore one of these. Still have the itch.

  19. Elko

    Very intresting…. I am the owner of this car…. the world is small.

    I bought the car from a guy in switzerland 2 years ago in very bad shape. I am intrested in the past of the car. Can anyone help me? Here are some pic after lots of work.

  20. seth

    Elko

    what happened to the pictures you posted?

  21. Elko

    Pic

  22. Elko

    Pic2

  23. Elko

    Pic3

  24. Elko

    Pic4

  25. Elko

    For more pics ask me on Facebook “Josua Hochstrasser”

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