Colin Chapman built his first car in 1948. Built on an Austin 7 chassis and with its running gear the car was known as a Lotus Mark I. Chapman built further ‘specials’, however, it wasn’t until 1952 that Lotus Engineering was formed by Chapman and colleague Colin Dare. It was at this time that Lotus built its first production car the Lotus Mk VI. The legend was born and Lotus grew to become one of the world’s most respected and successful manufacturers of sports and racing cars. Over the years Lotus race cars claimed many victories and world championships. Their road cars used much of the technology and experience from the race cars and were equally as successful.
In the early years Chapman focussed on race cars and it wasn’t until the mid-1950’s that he presented his first road car – the Lotus Type 14 or Elite – which was first shown at the 1957 London Motor Car Show at Earls Court. The car was very well received and ultimately very successful with just over 1,000 cars built through until 1963. Not surprisingly the Elite was also a very successful race car. In 1962 Lotus introduced the Elite’s successor, the Elan which became one of the most popular and successful sports cars ever built. The mid to late 1960’s and early 1970’s were good times for Lotus. Chapman wanted to leverage the early success of the Elan and build a mid-engine sports car using the formula that made Lotus successful. Chapman became famous for his engineering philosophy to ‘add lightness’. His cars were incredibly well engineered and always pushing the boundaries of the technology of the day.
In 1963 Lotus Engineering director Ron Hickman created drawings for Lotus’ bid for a race car to be built by Ford, the Ford GT 40. When that contract was lost to Lola Cars, Chapman chose to use Hickman's highly efficient aerodynamic design, which had a drag coefficient of only Cd 0.29, as the basis for a new mid-engine production model originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7. Enter the Lotus Type 46 or Europa, first built in 1966 which went on to become another Lotus success story with just over 9,000 examples built through until 1975.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1969 Lotus Europa S2.
The car is chassis number 54/1187 with engine number the details below and gearbox number 00946. According to the history file and the Lotus Europa registry it was invoiced 1/2/69 and understood to be in a batch of three cars including 54/1188 and 54/1189 delivered new to Australia and sold through Sydney Lotus agent Geoghegans from Haberfield in Sydney.
According to the plaque under the front bonnet the car should have engine number 1301 and gearbox number 00346, therefore it is likely the engine and gearbox have been changed at some stage in the car’s life. The engine in the car is a Renault Type 807-01 of 1565cc capacity and the gearbox is a Type 336 which is understood to be the correct engine and gearbox type used in the Lotus Europa.
The early history of this car is not known; however, it has a good history file with receipts dating back to circa 2000. The Europa changed hands in 2000 and it is understood that it was sold at this time by its very long-term owner. The car has subsequently passed through a number of owners in NSW and Queensland before being acquired by Oldtimer Australia in January 2016. The car was sold to its current owner in south east Queensland where it joined an interesting collection of cars and only a recent change in circumstances has resulted in it being reluctantly offered for sale. In just over 3 years of ownership the car has travelled just shy of 3500 kilometres, so it has been regularly exercised and it is often seen at events such as Car & Coffee Byron Bay and other car events in and around the Gold Coast.
Since acquiring the Lotus Europa, the current owner has had it regularly maintained and he has completed a number of things to the car to improve its overall presentation and condition which is today described as ’very good’. Immediately after acquiring the car it was gone through by Lotus specialists and the brakes were overhauled, smaller Weber carburettors were fitted, the drive shafts were overhauled, various electrical faults were sorted and other miscellaneous issues addressed.
Today this Lotus Europa S2 presents really well. The ‘swinging sixties’ bright orange paintwork is vibrant with the odd stone chip and imperfection evident. The most noticeable defect is a small crack in the paint on the right front fender, just above the door hinge. Chapman liked simplicity so the external trim is minimalistic on a Europa and on this car the delicate bumpers, lights, badges and the glass are all in good condition. Open the door and your first impression is very positive. The enticing bucket seats are trimmed in black, grey and orange and suit the car perfectly. All of the interior trim is in good condition, though there are a few minor splits in the seat bolster which have been carefully and professionally ‘taped up’ and the carpet in the foot well is worn. The dash, instruments and controls are all in good condition.
Sliding into the cockpit of a Lotus Europa is an art, but once mastered it is easy! You get comfortable behind the wheel and you really get what Chapman was all about. The interior fits like a glove, but not uncomfortably so. The driving position is ‘just right’ and the visibility surprisingly good. The anticipation to get this thing on the open road is high. Turn the key to get the fuel pump into action and the Webers primed. Be patient . . . then turn the key one notch further and the Renault 4-cylinder engine comes to life. By now the driver would be smiling from ear to ear as this Europa just begs to be driven. So off you go and it is apparent very quickly that this car does everything you would expect. It’s no surprise that this car is in its element on quiet back roads. It handles exceptionally well and it is very tight on the road. The steering is razor sharp and the brakes pull the car up aggressively when required and in a straight line. The engine has a fabulous raspy exhaust note and it pulls strongly through the gears. The gear change on a Europa is perhaps a weak point but on this car the change is smooth up and down the box.
You open the large rear clip to expose the engine bay which is clean and tidy. The rear tub which sits behind the engine is in place and in good condition, which is surely a rarity on a Lotus Europa! Under the front clip everything is also clean and tidy with the spare wheel in place right at the front of the nose.
Accompanying the car is a thick history file, a parts manual, workshop manual, owner’s manual (copy), parts interchange / cross reference guide, original sales brochures, spare keys and even a tool kit & jack.
This Lotus Europa offers a fabulous driving experience and quite frankly a huge amount of car for the money.
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