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My mid-engine, headache-inducing Lotus Europa is back on the front burner


#1

Ah, winter in New England. When it can either hover in the low 40s for a month and you’re able to drive your cool cars, or the snow can literally swallow both you and your daily driver. In these challenging climes—and when you’re a “scatter hoarder” like me, with cars garaged in several places—you need to decide which car goes where before the snow falls, and give thought to what your winter project is going to be.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/01/07/mid-engine-headache-inducing-lotus-europa

#2

It’s not a two-tone and Minnesota’s a long way from Cambridge but the bumper sticker might make up for all that:


#3

Early V-8 Ambassador? Two-tone? Stacked headlights? A/C with billiard-ball vents? I have this '66 convertible I’m selling.

PS I also have a recently restored S3 Elan.


#4

I always liked the Europa and dreamed of owning one, until I actually sat in one…
My feet barely fit and I don’t think I could actually manipulate those tiny pedals…
I have the same issue with my Porsche 914. I have to wear my skinny dress shoes to
drive.


#5

Rob, I grew up in Millerton, N.Y., a rural little town on the Conn. state line, where one of the only Lotus dealers in the U.S. resided. Their location was only minutes away from Lime Rock race track, so it made sense. The old building housed the shop and sales room and outside on the dirt lot sat about two dozen or so various Lotus models. As a kid I worked in the building next to it and I used to walk by those cars every day. The Europa was one of the coolest cars that I had ever seen (next to my neighbor’s Plymouth Superbird). It always stood out next to it’s Elan and Esprit bretheren although the latter was pretty cool with it’s wedge profile. I would always take a shortcut through the lot and dream as a young man usually does. I would always wait until 5 PM when the folks who worked there would come flying out of the lot with those cars and head up the hill on Route 44 into Connecticut. The sound of those screaming four-bangers was quite cool. I think still have my Hot Wheels Europa somewhere in my attic boxes! Thanks for the memories…


#6

Mmmm, Ramblers and Corvairs…

When I was 13 and car crazy, I was lucky enough to be left at the family farm for the summer of '68. How great that summer was, my Aunt and Uncle had no kids at home, and being the sole kid was a welcome change from competing with 4 other siblings.

My Aunt had a 63 Rambler Classic, straight six and three on the tree. Between that and the 54 Chevy farm truck, I must have clocked hundreds of miles driving the dirt roads around the farm that summer. Hand pumped a lot of gas from the tank by the barn. Ended up buying the Chevy truck decades later, and recently reluctantly sold due to health. But it ended up on the farm next door, so I still have visiting rights! The Rambler, well, it met it’s demise a few years later, when my Aunt turned left in front of traffic, ooof! They replaced it with a 62 Classic, a real step down to my youthful eyes. I can still vividly remember every detail of that 63, indeed it was quite a pretty design, and also the neat names, like the “weather eye” heater and the odd pushbuttons on the radio. Curiously, the 15" wheelcovers from the Rambler ended up on the 54 Chevy pickup. When I bought the Chevy, two remained, and I found another set at Carlisle (back before the internet). Used to refer to them as the original unoriginal hubcaps. But what a summer! Between driving and eating home made strawberry-rhubarb pies, what more could kid want. Another memory from that summer was going to the Farmer’s market. There was a used book store and I’d buy old Popular Science magazines for a nickel just for the great stories about Gus, the mechanic, and how he puzzled through the different mechanical mysteries each month.

WRT to Corvairs, when I met my wife in '74, she was driving a 66 Corsa 140 with factory air. Being a Mustang boy ('67 'vert w/AC + '72 Mach1) at the time, that 'Vair was a different experience. Ended up having a series of late Corvairs as daily drivers. Kept that Corsa for decades, finally selling it in the 90’s as part of a fleet rationalization. Still sort of regret selling it, but the Mercedes bug had bit and my dear wife had shifted her love to a Mercedes diesel wagon, which was a much better fit with three daughters. She still thinks that 87 300TD she got as a Christmas present in '93 was the best car she ever owned. Eventually replaced it with a '95 E320 wagon, which was visually identical to to the '87, even down to the silver color. Most people didn’t even notice that we had a “new” car. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to buy an '85 300TD from a good friend, and once again surprised my wife with a Benz wagon for Christmas. She absolutely loves it, its loaded with, errr, patina but I’ve been told in no uncertain terms to leave the paint alone. I think part of it is having a car you don’t freak out over every time you park it.
Jim


#7

I have to drive my Pantera with bare feet (well I keep my socks on), as my size 14 shoes cover all three pedals at once. So, I know your issue very well.


#8

in the for whatever it’s worth, I faced the same water pump issue with my 74 Lotus tcs. Having removed the engine twice before since I bought the car in 1986, this time I would never do it a third time. I installed a Davie Craig electric pump and made an “o ringed” plug for the front cover where the original water pump bearing went. I also did the thorough bench leak check you describe.
Anyway, I could not be happier with the performance of the electric pump, and it cost less than $200. If that pump leaks, I could change it an hour.


#9

The Europa water pump saga makes a great argument for a period-correct engine transplant. I’m thinking a 3.5 liter BOP-R V-8 would be great fun, could even top it with S.U. carbs.