Nicely Restored: 1974 Lotus Europa

This 1974 Lotus Europa underwent a full restoration a few years ago, and it has survived quite nicely through the intervening years. The current owner has had some further work performed on the car but has now decided to part with it. If you would like to become the next proud owner of this really clean British classic, you will find it located in Newburgh, New York, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Lotus has now reached $14,100, although the reserve hasn’t been met. It has, however, sparked some interest, because there are currently 112 people who are watching the listing.

Before the Europa underwent its restoration or refurbishment (whichever you prefer), it was finished in a shade known as Sepia Brown. As part of the process, the owner at that point chose to have the car refinished in the very attractive Carnival Red, which completely transforms the look of the car. The current owner says that the paint remains really good, except for a single chip on the leading edge of the passenger side door. The pinstriping that has been applied gives the car a combination that is very reminiscent of the “Gold Leaf” Lotus 49 Formula 1 cars. The alloy wheels look to be in really great condition, as does all of the glass. The owner makes no mention of any rust underneath the car and provided that the vulnerable areas where the body attaches to the frame are clean, then all should potentially be well with the Europa.

The owner describes the Europa’s interior as being the car’s weak point. If that’s a weak point, then it isn’t a bad one to have. He says that the fit and finish isn’t as good as it could be, but it certainly looks acceptable in the supplied photos. There might be a couple of odd edges where upholstery rolls around some items such as the front edges of the console, but unless you are seeking absolute perfection, it does look to be quite reasonable. The most obvious non-original item inside the Lotus is the aftermarket CD player, but given the fact that the dash would have been cut to install this, I’d probably leave it as it is. Otherwise, the entire dash fascia would need to be replaced. It’s also worth noting that the Europa is essentially a low-volume, hand-built car, so human error is potentially going to encroach on the fit and finish of some aspects of the car. Interior trim is not immune from this, and would probably be the area where such problems would be most obvious. It is all part and parcel of owning such a classic.

The Europa illustrates the Colin Chapman philosophy of both simplicity and lightness. With only 113hp at its disposal from the 1,558cc DOHC 4-cylinder engine, performance would not be great if the Lotus was at all on the “porky” side. Thankfully, total weight is a feather-light 1,664lbs, meaning that performance is surprisingly good. A Europa can sprint from 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds, and cover the ¼ mile in around 15.9 seconds. Those figures certainly aren’t going to set the earth alight when compared to a traditional muscle car, but brute straight-line performance isn’t what a Europa is all about. To understand a Europa, you need to point it at a piece of twisting tarmac. The handling and grip is something to experience, and that is what a Europa is all about: Find a piece of twisting mountain road, and have an absolute blast! When you look at this photo of the engine, you can’t help but notice just how clean and shiny the carburetors are. This is because they are freshly rebuilt. In addition, the Lotus wears a fresh set of tires and is said to be mechanically healthy.

The Europa probably isn’t the most attractive car produced by Lotus, but it does encapsulate their design philosophy perfectly. It is light and incredibly agile. This one is a really nice example, and it looks like it is a classic that is ready to be driven and enjoyed as only a Europa can be. I would love to know where the reserve is on this one because the simple fact is that you won’t find a half-decent ’74 model Europa for under $22,000 these days. If the reserve is under that, then this could be a great little classic to own.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good looking entry level sports car. Complicated looking but actually very basic with good parts availability. If the frame is good and the price reasonable it looks like a good buy.

    Like 2
  2. Kevin Harper

    Wow a Europa that doesn’t isn’t in need of a restoration. That is a rare bird.
    It actually looks really good and hopefully someone will really enjoy it

    Like 2
  3. Bruce

    I have a Europa that I have put 200K on and have owned for 40+ years. They are much easier to keep running than most would think. In all that time I had only one failure and it was a suspension bolt that had a bubble of air in the middle where it snapped leaving me stranded. Of course on a rainy night but a friend lived close and had a spare bolt jack and wrenches of the right size and I was back on the road in under an hour.

    Not only are they fun to drive but they can get amazing mileage. More than once during the 55MPH years I saw over 45 MPG on mine. As for handling there are some twisty bits where more than one Corvette driver has found out that power is not everything. Corners at speeds that will leave them white after nearly sliding off the road in their cars. Those roads were almost like straight lines to me.

    These cars are not without problems. The frames are not galvanized and are simple sheet metal folded into a couple of boxes and welded together. with holes for piping, shifting and other bits. If that is cracked and or rusted it is critical that it be fixed ASAP. The rest of the car like bobhess stated is basic engineering. Parts are mostly from other cars of the period and can be low cost. There are a few special items that can be pricy but for the most part this is low cost fun. Do not worry about fixing the frame as 4 men can easily remove the body from the frame and lift it off for repair. I have done this with a couple that were jacked up wrong and got damaged frames.

    Some caution now, these are very light at the front end and can hydroplane with ease during rainy weather. Done that more than once, wet roads are not nearly the problem but if water is on the road look out. Better part of valor is to go slow. The other big caution is that almost nobody has every seen one. Stop anywhere and expect to spend some time telling people what it is, where it comes from and feel free to lie about the performance INSERT EVIL LAUGH HERE.

    Like 11
  4. Robert Thomas

    Super nice. I knew a guy who bought a brown one with the JPS markings from La Monsa Motors in Mahwah, NJ back in 1974.

    Like 1
  5. jimmy the orphan

    Super ! I have not seen one of these for ever and a day. Europa what a cool name. remember reading about these in Road and Track when they were new, If you want a Lotus grab this little jewel …….HAPPY DAYS…………JIMMY

  6. John

    This one looks like it has had a good home for a good long time. I hope it gets another one. These are fun cars. They can be challenging to those who are not mechanically inclined. But its the sort of car that just makes you want to look under its hood. With proper maintenance, these are great little cars. BTW, a Corvair 180 Turbo muffler 1965-67 is a prefect fit (really) and really opens up the sound.

    Like 2
    • james Member

      Actually used a pair of these on a 1970 SBC with Hooker headers. Gorgeous rumbling growl at idle and surprisingly civil at cruising speed. Was thinking about trying one on my daughters 70 Europa project, and now you’ve convinced me!

      Like 1
      • KarlS

        I believe that is where the term “turbo muffler” came from where various muffler manufacturers copied the Corvair turbo muffler. I have two on my 67 V8 Barracuda.

        Like 1
  7. TimM

    Great looking car!! I haven’t seen one in this shape for years!!

  8. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Finished “reserve not met” at $18,166.69

    Interesting bid amount, eh?

  9. VictorAnderson

    My dad had one of these when I was a kid – and I’ve always wanted one. About 3 years ago I went on the hunt for one — but the ones like this (twin cam) seem to go for almost as much as a used Lotus Elise – so I opted to get an Elise instead because it was going to be a daily driver. (95,000 miles and counting).
    Like others have stated here — the Europa is a pretty simple car and they seem to me more dependable that people think. Just avoid letting any metal parts rust and don’t crash it.

    Like 1
  10. bog

    This is a nice example, and who knows what the seller has the reserve set at. Reasonable to him, perhaps not to others. A buddy and I had new ’68s while stationed in Germany. I happen to like the “flying buttresses” of the original design better and the lower front end & turn signals. Ours had the “stock” original Renault engines, so less power than this, but even lighter. Mine was BRG with black interior, and indeed although handling on twisty roads (on flat land, hilly, or mountainous) was amazing…that caution about any standing or flowing water on the highway is “spot on”. My friend spun his after losing the front end during a rainstorm. Not easy to do with a low mid-engined car…he went off backwards like an early Turbo Porsche. As much as I loved mine, couldn’t have one now due to back issues and the god-awful “sleeping bobbies” that are two to a block in my area ! ps – I’d never, ever get a lovely light interior either…lesson learned many years ago…

    Like 1
  11. Evans Leinbach

    The fit and finish talk about the interior is incorrect. My father restored the car and the interior was restored perfect at that point. The car has obviously set in the sun at some point and the leather on the door panels and other areas has shrunk. It would just need to be pulled back, stretched and glued into position again. Easy fix. Just thought id put that out there for anyone interested.

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