Stalled Restoration: 1970 Lotus Europa S2

When you look at this 1970 Lotus Europa, you might think that this is a freshly restored car and counter to what we propose to feature in terms of project cars and barn finds. According to the seller, however, this Lotus is a stillborn restoration, having been finished to a respectable level before getting parked for 30 years as an incomplete project. Supposedly, the body and paint are done and certain features, like the tires and wheels, were installed 30 years ago and have zero wear. Find the Lotus here on craigslist for $7,450.

The color combination is quite sharp, featuring a black exterior with red pinstriping and a red interior. The tires and wheels seem a bit aggressive for the Europa’s svelte appearance, but I suppose the look was in style 30 years ago. It could just be there’s too much sidewall on those tires, or the wheels are an inch too large. Regardless, the seller claims the shell remains in excellent condition and that no bodywork or rust repair is needed. The frame and suspension points are said to be solid, and the seller emphasizes this is an “assembly project” and not a restoration for the next owner.

Inside, the interior has already been reupholstered, and from here the work appears high quality. There’s some unfinished business in the dash, as the wood trim hasn’t been fully restored and the seller makes it sound as if the work was started. Similarly, the listing describes an incomplete air conditioning project but doesn’t detail what needs to be tidied up. Regardless, unless the pictures capture this car extremely well, the work that’s been done appears to be of high quality or at least a level most enthusiasts could live with.

The seller notes the engine still turns freely, but that wiring remains incomplete and the exhaust still needs to be hooked up. A new Monza exhaust is included. The seller mentions that one of the two gas tanks is missing, along with some windshield mouldings and the speedometer. None of that should be too hard to find, but my recent adventure in finding a rare gas tank for my junkyard find Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 left me acutely aware that missing gas tanks are not to be taken lightly. Fortunately, there’s a correct Europa S2 gas tank listed here on eBay right now. See? Your project is already on its way to completion. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find.

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Comments

  1. Francisco

    You better know what the hell you’re doing before you tackle this project. Air conditioning in a Europa!? Yikes! The thought of it scares me.

    Like 7
    • Sam61

      I’d rather sweat or mount a swamp cooler on the roof and pretend it’s a turbo intake.

      Aren’t these a monocoque where you fish and chase blind wires, etc…only in England…

      Like 2
      • jeff

        it has a steel backbone chassis.

        Like 1
    • ken tilly Member

      If it has the Renault engine then it’s going to have to work pretty hard to make the air conditioning work properly.

      Like 1
    • Bruce

      I have a 1969 Europa with air conditioning and it worked very well. The evaporator was mounted in the rear as was the compressor. I lost part of the trunk for the compressor mounting but that was not a problem for me. Mine was painted John Player colors black and gold with real mini lights for wheels. Still have it and it is under restoration as I write this.

      Like 6
  2. Francisco

    This could be a stunning automobile though.

    Like 2
  3. Rock On

    Nice find! Most of these are roached out like Opel GT’s or Bradley kit cars. This one looks worth saving.

    Like 5
  4. Bakyrdhero

    I don’t get these cars. Ive never owned or driven one, so there’s that, but I can’t get into the looks of the car.

    • Al

      If you are 6’7″, I can guarantee that you can not get into this car.

      I’ve tried, it doesn’t work if your legs are 39″ inseam long.

      Like 3
    • Bruce

      Bakyrdero if you can get a drive in one you will understand. The Europa is in reality a Formula 2 race car with a fiberglass body for two over the top. I have driven a few race cars and this is about as close as you can get. The handling is nothing less than amazing and even with a carburetor I was able to get 40 MPG from Denver to Kansas City. They are extremely light and nimble cars. Not for everybody to be sure but for those that fit and want the best handling car you can purchase they fit the bill.

      Also this car will teach you excellent driving techniques especially about the location of any car around you. You make a mistake and you are a dead man. Everything on the road is bigger and likely heavier than you are. That includes many motorcycles. Drive it like you are paranoid and you will be safer than you might think.

      As for the LOTUS Lots of Trouble Usually Serious I have put almost 200K on mine and the only big problem I had was a defective bold that broke on the rear suspension. Strangely and luckily a fellow Lotus owner lived a few blocks away and brought me one and I fixed it on the spot. I have seen the same problem on other cars over the years so I do not blame Lotus for that one.

      As for the body the shell thickness is extremely thin. reinforcing of the doors, hood, rear deck and side sales is relatively easy and can be done for under 10 pound in weight which will transform the car. As for only one gas tank this version only came with a single 7.5 gallon tank standard. You could fit a second tank but it was either a factory option or addition at a later date.

      Like 9
      • Bakyrdhero

        Thank you for the run down Bruce. I figured it must be a “Lotus thing” and id need to drive one to get it.
        They sound like a lot of fun. Push for 300k on yours! I
        Do like the colors on this one.

        Like 2
      • jeff

        its really like a formula ford, with only abut 100 BHP. formula 2 motors had 300 + ponies behind them i had a 72 twin cam.

        Like 1
  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I have to admit I like the looks of this one over the one the other day. It’s clean and good looking.

    Like 3
  6. Bocatrip

    I remember when I first got my license in the 60s of a tractor trailer driving over a Europa and not giving it a second thought.

    Like 2
    • Jack Hammer

      Very nicely put. Not even a little crunch. But like Colin said “To go faster, add lightness”.

      Like 1
  7. Robert Thomas

    I knew a guy who had a Europa Special which had the twin cam Lotus engine.

    Like 2
  8. Skippy

    Great car but not a great project for anyone who does not currently or has not previously owned one of these unless you are willing to make compromises. Waaay too many unique engineering, wiring and mounting approaches. I can also say that although they are go-karts to drive, at 6’4″ and 200 lbs, it is a very tight fit for me. This is one car where short people have a huge advantage.

    Like 1
  9. Britcarguy

    If you randomly mess with Chapman-engineered suspension geometry, you are pushing the envelope of safety and structural strength. Take it back to stock and you will still win FTD or be a top challenger at any autocross.

    Like 3
  10. bobhess bobhess Member

    Been installing low drag, high output, small compressors on sports cars for years. The one on this car is way too big for the engine but there are units out there that will cool and not take up a lot of horse power. Owned a couple of S2s and drove several others in our Florida weather and I will tell you that they get hot quick without the air.

    Like 7
  11. mike Member

    I once owned and drove what was the problably the most reliable Lotus Europa S2 around. No problems of any kind. It drove like a 1,500 pound go-kart and on par or better than a 914 and with that lightness its 85 hp I believe motor would pull you around nicely, not as well as a twin cam but good enough. I loved that car.. I had several other lotus cars and they were disasters, it was like the Lotus engineers did 3/4 of the work and left the rest to you. The worst was a 1976 I believe Lotus Elite. This fine model had the battery in the open back area of the interior as yet another example of older Lotus engineering genius, once in a while the always reliable lucas electrics caused the battery to overcharge while underway and fill the entire interior with toxic battery fumes in the form of a visual fog of poison clouding up the interior. That vehicle has to be the biggest p.o.s. ever made. I learned to drive it with the windows down and to hold my breath after getting a gulp of good air from outside. . Back to the Lotus S2, I managed to wreck it while in a hurry to get home to watch Night Gallery. Never have forgiven myself for that. This particular Europa looks like a fine candidate to finish, with fiberglass body parts at least you do not have to worry about rust in that area. I might consider it myself but I got enough car and motorcycle projects that I will problably be dead before I finish them all. The Europa and the 914 were the most fun cars to drive in my opinion. Yes, there are much faster cars but these were in the days when a used one could be bought at a cheaper cost than today.

    Like 6
  12. John Atsma

    Sweet project.

  13. Robert G Thomas

    Only someone with real understanding of the marque should undertake the restoration. It would be a really fun car, but temperamental.

    • jeff

      if put together properly it is a fine reliable car. you just can’t treat it like a NY taxi….

      Like 2

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