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Mid-Engine GT: 1972 Lotus Europa S2

The Lotus Europa was a mid-engine GT sports car built in England by Lotus Cars. Several variants were built between 1966-75, including this Series 2 edition from 1972. It has been modified and is capable of producing upwards of 200 hp, giving it a lot of punch for a little car that weighs 1,500 lbs. at best. This car has only seen two owners in nearly 50 years and only cosmetic work remains to be done. It’s located in Bernie, Missouri where the no reserve auction here on eBay has reached $8,211.

Lotus was well known in Europe and other parts of the world for building both sports and race cars. By the 1960s, the placement of an engine mid-ship was well-established as the best design for Grand Prix cars, so Lotus developed the Europa as a two-seater, mid-engine sports coupe that was also affordable. The Europa was never a volume-produced car by many standards, with just over 9,200 units built in a 10-year span. The Europa S2 represented just over a third of that number.

The Series 2 was modified in small numbers in order to be “federalized” for the U.S. market. In addition to left-hand drive, this largely meant adjusting the European cars to U.S. safety and emissions standards, which were tighter than other parts of the world at the time. The car got its power from a 1,565 cc Renault motor that was rated at the docks at 80 hp, a far cry from the changes that the seller has made to the car during his lengthy period of ownership. Prior to his acquiring the car, it had sat for 10 years due to the first owner’s health. It has always been garaged and never been in an accident.

The list of the things that have been done to enhance the car is a long one, in addition to the work to keep it maintained. That would include:

  • Rebuilt carburetor
  • Replaced engine heads from an earlier model that has larger intake valves and “siamesed” ports (where one port is joined to multiple cylinders), which has increased the compression ratio to 12:1, giving it at least 195 hp
  • Serviced 4-speed manual transmission
  • Complete new brakes
  • New water pump and rebuilt radiator
  • New alternator and battery
  • New fuel pump and cleaned out the gas tank

The car currently wears its original wheels and hubcaps, and a set of mag wheels will also be provided, although they need restoration. The body and interior are where the buyer would want to focus his/her attention going forward. The paint is faded and chipping in a few places (and doesn’t necessarily match), but there doesn’t seem to be any rust. At a minimum, a new dash pad will be needed inside the racy little car. We can’t tell about the upholstery or carpeting. The seller is now in retirement mode and is thinning his herd of toys. These cars are seldom seen in the U.S. anymore.


  1. Avatar photo RayT

    I don’t know much about Europas, but a know a little about these Renault engines, and I have to believe the “at least 195 bhp” claim is at least 80 horses North of what can be reasonably expected with any kind of reliability. Even the hemi-head version (which this isn’t) is unlikely to churn out that much power without forced induction, nitrous or other power enhancers that don’t do wonders for longevity. That would put a strain on the Renault transaxle, too.

    If I were in the Europa market — which I’m not, because I simply don’t fit in them — this would not be my choice. The engine is easy to service and, when necessary, rebuild, but my preference would be for a stock engine which I could treat to a mild beefup if I got tired of 80 bhp. And I’d switch to the Renault 16TX 5-speed transaxle. That helps.

    Like 12
  2. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    While I believe in adding lightness I also believe a sports car must be beautiful as well. The Elan is one of those cars. The Europa is not.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo ROARRR Member

      Beauty is in the eyes of the viewer, There’s a difference between saying I Prefer the styling of the Lotus 7 or such if you HAVE to say something bad about others pride and joy it’s just good manners!

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Russ Ashley

        I guess it’s OK to talk about how ugly a car is if it’s that car, I can’t remember it’s name, that was featured here yesterday. It was a modified Mercury Cougar made to look like and old car. I didn’t like it at all and apparently most of us here didn’t like it either, so I’ll just say that compared to that car this one almost looks good. Almost….

        Like 1
    • Avatar photo jaymon1962

      I have yet to see a view of these cars from which they look anything but ungainly.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo mike hawke

      These cars are beautiful.

      Like 11
  3. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    But they’re still really cool cars.After driving a ’65 F100,
    I drove an S2 Europa.I almost hit a parked car,as I was not ex-
    pecting the steering to be so direct.
    I think they’re good looking.The biggest problem with these
    is that they really low,& some drivers won’t see you.

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo Beyfon

    Yeah, the 195-200 hp are clearly a result of the seller’s imagination. 115-120 perhaps?

    The car looks a little bit rough around the edges but still no doubt fun, and at least it seems to be running which certainly isn’t always the case for Europas at this price level.

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo sir_mike

    I might be wrong bur shouldn’t a 1972 had the Lotus twin cam motor??

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo ROARRR Member

      The Europa Twin Cam Special did and they couldn’t get 200Hp from 1588cc’s in any state of tune–I have one and they’re WONDERFUL!

      Like 4
  6. Avatar photo Bonzo

    I’ve always loved these… a guy across the street had one when I was a kid and I thought it was so cool how low it was. I read an article once about how the early ones didn’t have opening windows, due to Chapman wanting smoother aero. They said that became a big problem at toll booths, but fortunately the car was so low it could go under the barrier arm!!!

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo jim zuber

    As a previous owner of 3 Europa, the hp is likely around 100.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo EPO3

    I’m a big guy I tried to get into one of these didn’t happen. If it was a clown car it would be for one I would love to take one for a rip

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Ralph

    I always wondered when they styled this car, they looked at this and said….”yep, we’re done….this is good, flattened van, thats the look we’re going with”

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo james malone Member

      It was the wedge theory in aerodynamics, and it worked. Chapman was all about performance (and simplicity) in the case of the Europa.
      I chuckled when the author was commenting on the condition of the paint job and said “but there doesn’t appear to be any rust”; What a relief; rusty fiberglass would be a serious problem! :)
      Agree with above: 100 HP +/- is probably right

      Like 5
  10. Avatar photo Howie

    Lotus production of the S2 stopped in 1971. A 1972 model would have been a twin cam model. I have owned both and at 6’ 2” the twin cam is better suited to taller drivers as the frame and hence the cockpit is 2” longer giving more leg room

    Like 5
  11. Avatar photo Howie

    I highly doubt that Renault engine produces anywhere near 195 hp. For one thing it only has a single twin choke carb. These engines just wouldn’t be capable of that output no matter what state of tune.
    Incidentally the standard frame wouldn’t take that much power. The Lotus type 47 which was the racing version of the S1/S2 Europa had a modified rear frame section to take the extra power of the Cosworth engine. But even then the power output was no where approaching 195 hp

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    The original design was built to compete with the Ford GT 40 design for Le Mans under a different name. Ford design got the bid so Chapman named it Europa and put it out to the public. Owned two of these with the idea of putting a Ford twin cam it one of them. Got overrun with Sprite race cars and never accomplished anything with the S2s. So many cars, so little time.

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo bone

    The closest I’ve ever come to owning one of these was a pink Matchbox version when I was a kid .

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Cobra Steve

    The reason no rust is evident is because the body is fiberglass. Be sure to check the steel frame underneath though.

    Like 2
  15. Avatar photo Jasper

    Yeah, I’ll let someone say these are weird looking, but you can’t say ugly. I personally think they’re great looking. The look is all about functionality. Little fluff or fat.

    Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Frank

    Pretty car in JPS Black and gold. No room 6 -2 footers forget it. Handle like hell Colin Chapman knew how to build light race cars. Chapman’s F1 cars were one of the best back in the 60’s and 70’s. Foose did one over on one episode with some great improvements.

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Joseph Riley

    The 1972 series2 cars were left over 1971s that didn’t get titled until they were sold. I have a 71 just like this car, same color, weber carb, ported head, racing cam and pistons, and I would guess 125hp. Ugly is in the eye of the looker, I never saw mine as ugly!

    Like 2
  18. Avatar photo Daniel Gavin

    Yes….the Elan is a better looking car (in my opinion)……but it will never handle
    like a Europa
    PS: The Europa is NOT an ugly car…….I know ugly and this is not ugly.

    Like 2
  19. Avatar photo MR.PETROHOLIC

    Not sure if any of the bidders were aware or even the seller for that matter , but this car appeared to be an “”Else” modified car , which was a specialty shop that upgraded the horsepower and tuning in these S2 Europas … see here > http://www.lotus-europa.com/literature/ElseEuropa.pdf

    Like 0

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