Lotus Europa pt 3


Previously on This Lotus is Going to Kill Me

Four years ago I bought a dead 1974 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special, sight-unseen. As soon as it rolled into my garage, I removed, tore down, and unseized the engine. I found that the cylinder block had been sleeved—something you don’t expect to see in a 20,000-mile car—preventing standard oversized pistons from being used. While trying to navigate a cost-effective path to a rebuild, I took the disassembled engine to The Lotus Engine God (TLEG), who recommended a whole bunch of stuff that would cost a lot of money, while refusing to quote me a price because he didn’t want to cut corners.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/11/07/lotus-europa-pt-3


hi…im from liverpool uk…worked with a few lotus myself…we re abbreviated it to …
Lots of trouble.usually serious …nice build .


I almost bought one in the mid 80’s. I was living in Seattle at the time. I would drive down this back road several times a week and I couldn’t help notice the red Europa sitting in a yard surrounded by tall grass. Out of curiosity I decided to stop buy and check it out, wondering if the owner might want to sell it.
I figured that it might make a good project car for restoring. The owner had parked it for over two years due to losing his license from too many speeding tickets. The car was covered in green moss and the wood on the dash was peeling from sitting out in the damp Seattle weather. He told me that it still ran and I could have it for $500. I told him that I would stop by the next day and to have the battery charged so I could hear it. Next day the car would not start, the engine was seized up. Needless to say, I passed on the car, and after reading your articles I am glad I did.


I’ve owned 3 of them. 2 S2’s and a twincam. Twincam was my favorite daily driver. One of the S2’s I created into the ultimate Europa ( until Chip Foooose came along). Installed a hemi head Renault turbo Fuego engine and gearbox. Changed the semi trailing arm suspension to a trailing arm with a top link. Big wheels and flares. Added AC in the front plenum chamber, made it the perfect picnic car. Whatever you put in the front trunk stays cold and what you put in the rear trunk stays warm.
Used to restore other English cars. When I got tired of replacing rotten rocker panels I’d buy a lotus, then I’d get tired of the itching from fiberglass work and buy another Mini. After first child was born Wife didn’t want to raise the children alone so had to get rid of the Europa for a song. Had a S2000 after it. Was sure fast but no soul.
Years later while looking for another Twin Cam I stumbled across a NSX that needed some of mechanical work. It’s like a grown up Europa. What fun to drive and so reliable.
But I still scan the Lotus want adds for a Twin Cam. Besides my 2 sons got bit by the BMW bug. So if I’m not helping one with his e28 M5 the other just holed the oil pan on his e30. Wouldn’t happen to have a spare M20 laying around?


The struggle is real - Looking forward to Lotus Europa pt 4!


I too am looking forward to Part 4. I am currently waiting on the newest run of water pump / front replacement covers from Dave Bean. (Understand that the covers have been forged and currently being machined) My '73 Twincam Special sits idle awaiting the kit. It is my third Twincam Europa - my sports car buddies call me a slow learner.

I have three Loti currently including the one sitting on ramps in my garage. I also have a '70 Elan S4 FHC. It to is being upgraded (replacement CV shafts, Wilwood 4-pot calipers front and rear, shocks, etc.) and I will be going through the engine with my son (mostly my son - he is a self taught excellent mechanic in his spare time)… My 3rd Lotus is a '05 Elise Sport. I get to drive it.

I have owned seven Loti so far in my life which also included a Super Seven and a 1963 Elan 1600 (also referred to as an S1 once the S2 came out). It was my all time favorite - “Pure Lotus”.

Thank you for the story!


Nice article–I have similar conditions: a 74 TC special needing refurbishment AND a hundred other projects clogging my workshop, I too have to complete several to even make inside space for them–or rent storage nearby. BTW: a pinto, cortina, etc cam will do just fine and should be found at the local scrappers. You SHOULD join the Lotus clubs, they’re different than your BMW people–most work on their own cars and have lots of info that they’ll gladly tell you. There are also lots of books and manuals detailing what to do with our toys! Take a look and see if it’s feasible to cut a hole in the wall in front of the engine that you could reach through to replace the water pumps which BTW I’ve found to be very reliable and cheap at your ford dealer for a pinto!


@dolphinporsche - A couple solid tips in there!

I echo the sentiment about club membership. The long time members of dedicated clubs can be so helpful in avoiding extra work. They have done it before and will make sure you do it right the first time!


Rob, Enjoyed part III and I have enjoyed reading about The Shark project in BMW CCA’s Rondel. Keep hackin :slight_smile:


Hello Rob, I’ve just completed a 1 year ground up restoration of a 1970 Europa S2 and am thrilled with results. Regarding the beached whale idea that the car can’t be moved without the engine and transaxle, that’s only partly true. The transmission can be reinstalling without the engine as you’ll see in the photo. I later removed the strap and installed a piece of 2x4 across the inside of the frame rails and put a couple 3" bolts through the bell housing holes. I added another on top for 2 more bolts as I had to trailer the car for 8 hours and wanted lots of support. Support is not required for just moving the car around in the garage


Photo for last post:


The Europa came out of what may have been the most revolutionary band of performance engineers in all of automotive history. The Seven and Elan were utter road-going performance design inspirations, unequaled in their performance to this day. The Elan is perhaps the all-time road-car handling benchmark. Ask Gordon Murray, and many others. And the Europa is a even better performance platform with a much higher performance envelope than either of those two other great cars.

I’ve been around them for a long time now, and my race car is a full race prepared Type 65 Europa. “Getting” a Lotus is different from “getting” an ordinary road car. “Getting” a Lotus is to be in the world of Reynards, Brabhams, Ralts, Swifts, Van Diemens, Crossles, Chevrons, Royales, etc., etc. It’s to be thinking like Chapman, Murray, Broadley, and the ilk. They share more think and application with full-on world-class racing car practice than production road car practice. It’s more like a Formula Ford or Sports 2000 than an E30 BMW. As someone mentioned in on of the discussion threads around this article series, one of these Loti requires you to be race car engineer, and a clever one, more than a production car mechanic.

The cars are simple. SUPER simple (though very sophisticated). Sorted - and that’s VERY easy to do - they are reliable and not fragile, and blisteringly fast and unmatched driving experiences.

My experience with Loti went thusly - had a Jensen-Healey with a Lotus 907 engine, connected with an ex-Lotus F1 mechanic for servicing it, blown away with his Europa JPS, finally bought an Elan, started taking it apart and said “what a piece of crap”, as I learned more I became in awe of the engineering effectiveness and cleverness, then the driving experience just locked in the utter brilliance. At the same time, I went through racing school and began my track driving history. Formula Fords, many other various cars, mostly autocross and road circuit driving. I do advanced road driving skills and track/performance driving instruction today.

Perhaps the most important thing about owning a car like the Europa to avoid it becoming a nightmare is to avoid short cuts. It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, but quick, cheap half-measures will always result in having to do the job again, and that will result in more time, more cost, and more frustration. Do it right, do it once. The Seven, Elan, and Europa are rich with world-class competitive development history. Everything has been sorted through, whether you want to make reliable daily driver to a top-class track car, and there’s a wonderful network of people who are welcoming of people who appreciate the superior engineering heritage and wish to enjoy it. They are generous with their expertise and time.

Ha! And you mention the TVR 2500M? Have one, and a 280i. Yes, can’t get into much trouble with a TVR :wink:


Guys, First things first, Rob, I’m sorry to hear about the job situation. US companies have only incentives to send jobs to BCC’s (best cost countries). The countries with the fastest growing middle classes are those that use economic trade barriers to motivate high local content and value add (e.g. China, South Korea, etc).
Second, many BMW owners are seriously capable shade tree mechanics. I’ve disassembled 4 BMW’s (and actually put 2 back together). Third, why is GRP bodywork so much more expensive to repaint? Unless you’re going for a super flat finish that is uncharacteristic to GRP cars, filling the spider cracks and prepping a little car like a Europa shouldn’t take a body shop more than a week of full time labor. Please show me my delusion on this matter. Fourth, are you doing anything about the lack of side impact protection as part of your restoration? Banks in the UK makes a bolt in roll cage that includes a lower&upper outboard section. I believe it’s compatible with a fully trimmed interior. Finally, thanks for the great writing.