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Lotus Europa (1967 - 1975)

Last updated 29 November 2013

 
4
A mid-engined pioneer with brilliant handling and steering
Bonded body/chassis awkward to repair, cramped for anyone of above-average height

Introduction

The Lotus Europa was unashamedly aimed at lucrative export markets, hence its name - and the choice of Renault drivetrains was taken because of its US compliance and widespread support in Europe. But lest we forget that it was actually one of the very first mid-engined cars you could actually buy for the road - hitting the market within months of the epochal Lamborghini Miura.

The Europa used the front-wheel drive Renault 16's running gear, turned around, and placed behind the driver. And to prove the point about European markets, all S1s were exported. The earliest cars had their glassfibre body bonded to the steel chassis, which made repairs troublesome, but that was rectified with the 1969 S2 model. These cars were sold in the UK and came with more equipment including elecric windows.

But despite its appealing mechanical layout, the Europa really could do with more power. Lotus answered this in 1971 when it intalled its twin-cam engine, initially in 105bhp form, but followed up by the 126bhp Special a year later. Both the Twin Cam and Special used the Renault 16 gearbox (with an improved gear linkage), though the Specials could also be had with a five-speed version from the 17TS. These twin-cam Europas were easily recognised by their cut-down rear buttresses.

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