Out of Hibernation: 1971 Lotus Europa S2

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It’s hard to overstate how tiny these cars are. The 1971 Lotus Europa is only 3.54 feet tall, meaning it would be about knee level for Wilt Chamberlain. The minuscule British sports car, which looks something like a bread van for Lilliputians, is a lifelong California survivor, and it’s on eBay in Newcastle, California with bidding at $6,200 and the reserve not met.

The write-up of this car is very detailed—every seller should be so fastidious. The vehicle, now shiny green, was delivered to British Motors in the San Francisco Bay area and has stayed there. The second owner, “an eccentric collector of all things automotive,” acquired it in the late 70s and barely used it. Storage was covered and inside. After the owner’s demise, the daughter briefly resurrected the Lotus, but it has been sitting since 2019. It still looks good from nearly every angle, with all trim in place.

Departures from stock include a side-draft Weber carburetor and air cleaner, custom headers and exhaust, and three-inch quick-release lap belts. Unmounted eight-spoke gold Panasport wheels are also included in the sale.

The vendor says the chrome is blemish-free due to the long-term storage, and there’s zero crazing in the fiberglass—a big problem with Lotus cars. The doors have minor sagging.

The interior features a vintage Sony cassette unit that really takes the viewer back 40+ years. The vinyl seats look excellent, and the instruments are precise, without rips or tears. There are no signs of animal habitation. The original spare, jack/lug wrench, workshop manual, and keys are included. The original wheels wear new tires. The title is clear. Gas receipts from the ‘80s are included so you can eat your heart out at the low prices.

The Lotus runs but, as they say, some work (to the brakes and fuel system) will be required to make it fully operational. It should be easy to get this car back on the road. It should be a hit at car shows. Of course, it’s a Lotus, so driving it will always be an adventure. Smiths gauges, Lucas electrics, the lot. Look below, the original Lucas headlights!

The Europa was built between 1966 and 1975, making this a late S2 example. The engine in the federally specced S2s should be the larger Renault-sourced 16TL 1,565-cc unit, with emission controls and 80 horsepower. American cars also got raised up a bit, probably because of headlight height requirements. Because the Europa followed Colin Chapman’s mantra of lightness above all else, it wasn’t as slow as the available power suggests. A Road & Track test achieved zero to 60 in 9.6 seconds and top speed of 116 mph.

A total of 3,615 S2 Lotus Europas were produced, so they’re not common. They also don’t come up for sale all that often. A 2022 sale realized $24,408. It’s hard to imagine a better example of this little British sports car.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. mrobin

    The first time I saw one I was amazed how low it was, And I was driving a MGB at the time.

    Like 12
    • HoA HoAMember

      Me too! It seemed, to any British car fan, the Europa was this unheard of design, so atypical of anything British. Just the name, Lotus, well respected by anyone that liked British cars. Curiosity was paramount, however, from what I read, it was a poor car in practically every way. Handled like a go-kart, but was too low, and people just couldn’t see you, blind spot driving, getting in and out, and again, with only 9200 Europas made, it could be considered a swing and a miss and replaced by the kooky Esprit.
      The one thing that irritates me the most, is the false analogy on Lucas electrics. Like all Ramblers are junk, it’s something we just learned to ignore. My Jeep Cherokee had more electrical problems than any British car I knew of. Case closed!

      Like 11
      • Big C

        Did you carry a roll of emery cloth in the Jeep? I did, in my Spitfire.

        Like 1
  2. Howie

    As i said earlier today i had a 1969 years ago. If it is not in running condition, this looks like a shop that works on sports cars, why not have them do the work and then even get more for it, or a easier time selling it.

    Like 7
    • Slimm

      @Howie Because they got the car for free and don’t care to guess if paying the shop to get it running will be make them significantly more profit. I would guess that posting an eBay auction is about as easy as it gets and they learn what it might be worth at least on eBay. I think that a lot of people who inherit an estate are not driven to make a maximum amount of money. (At least the people I have known in that situation.)

      Like 1
  3. jimmyx

    If it’s so original, where did the wood dash go?

    Like 2
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Wood dash on both my S2s was in bad shape and I was going to put vinyl over them like done to this car. Looks good to me. Nice car.

      Like 4
  4. Joe MecMember

    I have had a few Lotus Elans an have driven Europas but they are a special car for a special person. Too claustrophobic for me, especially the S2’s. Not sure if the this model has side opening windows either. The later Europa’s also have the rear top wings cut down for better visibility plus they were better powered from the Twin cam Lotus motors. This example looks to be in pretty good shape even with the Lotus hubcaps which are pretty rare. Truly a bygone classic……

    Like 3
  5. bill tebbutt

    This is an interesting example. Yes, as a 1971 model the door windows go down – like all opening-window Europa’s though they only go down to about 3″ above the bottom of the door frame – there are kits that allow them to go down all the way. Door hinge kits are an easy fix as well.

    That carb+intake+ header may well be part of the Hermes kit available at the time, in various stages (which could also include a hotter cam if you wanted. If so equipped, this thing will be plenty fast (I know, I had one).

    I don’t see $22k, but if it could be had in the mid teens it would be a snip.


    Like 3
  6. Jay

    As a teenager, I had an opportunity to purchase a ’71 Europa from my orthodontist. The top of it came to about the bottom of the window sill in the ’77 Honda CVCC I was driving at the time.

    Like 1
  7. Edward

    A beautiful car! The “doors sagging” raises a concern about the frame. This would bear a close inspection before buying.

    Like 2
    • bill tebbutt

      The doors sag on these cars at the hinges. Typically, because they are such low cars and some folks struggle to get in and out, these people lean on the door for assistance – that ruins the hinges. It is a known issue with Europas, for many years, kits are available for a permanent fix.

      It is possible the car (or any car) could have frame issues – if it did, it would most likely be in the front turrets/crossmember area (known to hold water and rot from the inside out). But in this case, in all likelihood there is no connection between the sagging doors and a possible frame issue


      Like 1
    • chris coracini

      Door sagging is cause by the hinge pin freezing in the bushings and moving out of adjustment. The bushings are held in place with a “friction washer”, or sandpaper as it’s more commonly referred to, and when they freeze to the hinge pin they turn and move out of place. It’s a very common problem. The doors are secured top and bottom to the fiberglass shell so sagging is not an indication of frame issues.

      Like 4
  8. CCFisher

    Looks like a nice Europa, but I want to hear about the very rare Jensen GT in the garage.

    Like 1
  9. Ward William

    You might just want to refresh the electrical system to exorcise the Prince of Darkness before driving off into the sunset.

    Like 1
  10. Steve

    At the time that it debuted Road & Track called it the best handling sports car on the market. I’ve ridden in a few – it’s much easier to get into than out of!

    Like 3
  11. 69W31

    I had a manager, 30+ years ago that had one of these and a Elan to go with it (and a Bentley). But I never understood the rear design, just too odd looking.

    Like 0
  12. Keith

    I’ve had one. It may be “unsafe at any speed”, but, each and every one of us is responsible for our own safe driving. It’s so small, it can’t be seen. So use your own eyes and drive accordingly. I miss mine, I wish I hadn’t sold it. Though I replaced it with a british made 1910 Alldays and Onions! The fun continues, at a much slower speed!

    Like 0
  13. Jeff Williams Jeff WMember

    Stick a 97-99 Taurus SHO v8 in there with about 235 ponies coupled to a 5 speed and you could fly at a nice low altitude. And that 60 degree v8 sounds sweet too.
    The v6 SHO motor was neat to look at too. It wold be my second choice for engine swap into the Europa. Glass insert to back deck too?

    Like 0
  14. Frank Barrett

    So far, this is a great deal. You get a complete and very original car that is renowned for its design and performance at a not-crazy price. Yes, it needs TLC, but at least no one has messed with it. To me, this is a no-brainer, even at much more than the current $7,400 bid. Let’s see, I wonder which other engines would fit back there, maybe even with a five-speed…

    Like 0
  15. Slimm

    A ’74 was my first sports car in ’77. It felt like piloting a tiny fighter plane through curvy tree lined country mountain roads. Then I moved from East TN to Dallas. No more fun. It is a great tool for the job it was intended for.

    Like 1
  16. Michael Hullevad

    “Federalised”=amputated Lotus! The Renault 16TL with carbs can be replaced with 18TS with injection and 5-speed gearbox.
    There was a reason for picking the lightweight engine, perfect balance. Pocket rocket! It is wary hard to get out of, I am too old!

    Like 1
  17. jeffrey case

    had a 72 twin cam, LOVED that car. if this was a TC i would buy it in a heartbeat.. this looks to b pretty damn good condition considering how long its been sotred

    Like 0
  18. Howie

    Sold $9,999, 24 bids.

    Like 1

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