Twin Cam! 1973 Lotus Europa

I remember the first time I ever saw a Lotus Europa in person. It was at an RAF base where my family had gone for an air show. I swooned over the Lotus (it was a black JPS twin-cam model) more than any of the jet display teams — interestingly enough, so did my mother. She was never able to realize her dream of owning a Europa, but someone can do that if they buy this 1973 model which is listed for sale here on craigslist. The seller is looking for $9,500 for this running & driving project.

When you look a little closer into the surprisingly clear photographs provided by the seller, you can see that there are many small issues with the fiberglass finish on this Lotus. As usual with an unrestored vintage fiberglass car, these issues can be dealt with either through a good body shop (try for one with Corvette experience) or a lot of work by the new owner. I did find new nose badges available here but both types are well over $100 (!).

Drivetrain access for a Europa is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, almost everything can be gotten to through this hatch. On the other hand, you have to lean really far in! The wheels are original for the car and are fairly difficult to come by, sharing their unusual 4 x 3-3/4″ bolt pattern only with other Lotus cars and Triumphs.

You don’t really sit down in a Europa, it’s more like putting on a skinny pair of pants. Seriously. Large or tall folks need not apply. Once in, it’s a very rewarding drive. Obviously, there are some details to be worked on here; thankfully Lotus generally used off-the-shelf generic British car switches, so most items can be found as long as you know what car they were originally manufactured for. I haven’t seen many Europas with dash tops looking this nice, so that’s a plus.

Don’t like to lay down? This isn’t your car. Those are fixed-back seats, and the angle has been compared to contemporary Grand Prix cars. Presumably, Colin Chapman and his men were trying to keep the roofline as low as possible. In any case, try before you buy!

This twin-cam Lotus engine is Ford-based while the four-speed transmission was sourced from Renault. The seller says the car comes with a box of spare parts and I’m finding myself wondering what those parts are. They also mention a neighbor with a nice trailer for sale so that you can make it a package deal! Have you ever driven a Europa? Please share your experience if you have!

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Comments

  1. Robert Thomas

    When I was a teenager I knew some one who had a Europa Twin Cam, it was in British Racing Green. There was a dealer who sold these and TVRs in Mahwah, NJ (near where I grew up) named Lee Layton Motorcars. I was not uncommon to see a Europa or Eclat in the area in those days.

    Like 1
    • Frank Sundram

      Interesting car. I had a 73 JPS and I loved that car, which is why I am writing.

      This one raises an eyebrow because of the 4 speed gearbox … the JPS specials all came with 5 speed gearboxes. So it’s something to check out.

      There was also special badging to the JPS specials and pinstriping …

      But I’m being picky. This was an amazing car. I used to use it to commute to grad school 120 miles each way three times a week.

      A pretty reliable car over all with power to pass traffic on two lane North Carolina roads. Hope it goes to a good home.

      Like 10
      • SMS

        It looks like a big valve special which in ‘73 the 5 speed was an option. Don’t think it is a JPS.

        My mother and I still chuckle about the time we were at the dealer. She was trading in her MGB for a TR-6. I so tried to talk her into a Europa.

        Like 1
      • Martin Horrocks

        Also, this is Zenith carb US edition, so definitely not the full fat vesion we got in Europe. This car seems like excellent value from here now,m as we pay half that money for a TC engine to rebuild.

        A friend had a metallic blue example which he built out of Lotus-supplied kit (really it wasCKD_everything brand new). Soon after the car was slightly damaged in a supermarket car park. The bodyshop couldn´t match the paint so my friend ended up with a new JPS finish. Übercool at the time, less so a few years later.

        Like 1
    • Ben Fedele

      I was 10 years old when shopping with my dad for a new car. We went to that dealer I remember looking at TVR’s Lotus Europa and my dad was seriously looking at the
      Lotus Elite. It was not meant to be!
      We even wandered onto a Plymouth dodge lot were a winged car sat unsold hideous looking to most people!
      To my disappointment Dad bought a 1971 Olds Toronado with a 455/4barrel.
      Oh well he did buy an Alfa Romeo
      Spider too!
      Great memories!

      • Howie Mueler

        A new Elite was very pricey.

  2. Hank

    …they are indeed a fun car to drive…that being said, they do have built-in restrictions on driver size and will require a certain degree of physical dexterity to enter and exit (if you don’t mind crawling on your hands and knees)…parts are, for the most part, readily available, and thank God for the internet…it is a plus that this one has the twin-cam as Renault parts can be difficult to come by and are a bit quirky to work on…having the 4-speed gearbox marks this one as an early T/C which required an adapter for the Renault gearbox…make sure the glass is all in good shape…+ much more!

    Like 2
  3. CJinSD

    It amuses me that real Lotus sports cars routinely sell for a fraction as much as a Ford econobox with Lotus trim and tuning from the same era.

    Like 11
  4. SMS

    The driving experience in these is amazing. A se7en does several things better and an Elise does everything better but one, the feeling. I felt so enclosed, like in a mummy bag, comfy and when setup for you everything in the right place.

    This looks like it might be a good deal. One, made sure the chassis is not rusty. Two, check out the door hangers. People often lean on them to get in and out and that is a devil to fix. Three, have a young man’s back. Working under the dash or in the engine compartment requires long times bent over and twisting around.

    Well worth investing in a home lift. I have a quick lift and my body thanks me for it.

    These are absolutely worth the time and frustration keeping them running. Light cars are fragile cars. These are light. The joy is amazing when you can out brake a car that costs 20 times as much and has four times the HP passing them in a corner. Other advantages to these being so light is you can push them onto a trailer on track days by yourself, tires last a good amount of time. The advantage of the low drag is that one something breaks you can coast forever and find a pleasant place to pull over for a picnic and wait for the flatbed.

    Always thought these were small until I saw one parked next to a 917. It towered over the 917. That was a wake up call.

    Like 9
    • Martin Horrocks

      Try a Ginetta G15, 42″ high and like an Alpine A110 but 3/4 scale.

      Like 1
    • CJinSD

      The Lotus is five inches taller than the Porsche, but it is also five inches shorter in length and seventeen inches narrower in width. I believe that means it occupies a much smaller volume than the 917 does.

  5. DeeBee

    Haven’t driven a Europa, but, had a buddy with an Elan once and wanted to buy that car in the worst way! He told me he’d never sell it to a friend! even so, I love Lotus cars!

    Like 3
  6. Bruce

    This is not a car you drive but a car you wear. That is true about the seating but also the driving experience. Like a race car you very rapidly become part of the car. You feel everything, you can tell the type of cigarette you drive over, filtered or not. You can tell when you lose air pressure in one tire. It is remarkable and when you want or NEED to maneuver quickly it says how fast and in general it is faster and has more performance than you realize. That fact alone kept me out of a number of accidents happening in front of me. I just jumped lanes but I also know to make certain where other traffic is around you for even with the cut down rear sails they then to be blind towards the rear.

    They are amazing on long trips, very comfortable and if you can get behind a fast moving tractor trailer milage can go from mid 30’s to near 50 MPG because the truck is moving all the air from in front of you. I have done that more than once from Kansas City to Denver or Omaha in the day. Do not worry you can see under these truck or most cars as well. Look for the stop lights of the car in front of the one you are behind and you will always have more than enough room to stop for in general you are stopping before the are directly in front of you does.

    This is a drivers machine. Yes you need to fit. Yes the doors are a bitch to fix but there are stainless steel replacements available. They are not cheap and the price of the ash tray in the dash will make you gasp. I am restoring mine but it is not a twin cam but an S2 with the Renault engine which I prefer because of upkeep reasons but the TWINKS are faster.

    This looks like a very good project and the price seems good as well.

    Like 3
    • Jim S

      I bought a used ’74 TC, 45 years ago. I remember being sorry for the guy behind me, when traffic suddenly came to a stop on the interstate in town. I was following the guy in front of me too closely (normal rush hour gap) and just twitched the steering wheel to the right and went around him in the breakdown lane easily. I heard the guy who was behind me hit the guy in front of me. That made me feel bad; but, glad that it wasn’t him hitting me in my go cart.

      Like 1
  7. Hank

    …after another look, it doesn’t appear to need enough recon to not justify the investment if you have the skill sets necessary to DIY…it certainly would be worth a closer look as you are already nearly half way in $ to what these are selling for in Haggarty #2 condition, which is pretty nice…the sunroof is not a plus for originality…

  8. Howie Mueler

    I had a early one, lots of fun, wish i still had it now. This looks like a great deal, i hope it sells.

    Like 3

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