• Manufacturer Lotus Cars
  • Production 1966-1975
    9300 made
  • Body style(s) 2-door coupe
  • Class Sports car
  • Engine(s) 1470 cc Renault
    1558 cc Lotus/Ford
  • Height 42 inches (1066 mm)
  • Length 175 inches (4458 mm)
  • Width 60 inches (1816 mm)
  • Wheelbase 98 inches (2483 mm)
  • Kerb Weight 1320 pounds to 1570 pounds (600 kg to 715 kg) (kerb)

The history of the Lotus Europa


The Lotus Europa or - for the very first version, only sold in continental Europe - Lotus Europe was a two door mid-engined GT coupé built by Lotus Cars from 1966 to 1975. In 2006 Lotus began production of a totally new, Lotus Elise-derived design, a mid-engined GT coupé named Europa S.
The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman's minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The Europa was the first mass-produced mid-engine road car and was based on a prototype built to compete for Henry Ford II's contract to build a Le Mans race car in the early 1960s.
The Europa was designed and built to be an embodiment of Chapman's oft-stated philosophy of automotive design: "Simplify, then add lightness."
The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman's thinking; the rear suspension consisted of two relatively large trailing arms, one lower locating link per side, and the axles were used as upper locating links; very similar to Formula racing car designs of that era. Aside from the doors, bonnet, and boot, the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass.
The car's handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road.
The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman's aerodynamic design (with a still respectable today drag coefficient of Cd 0.29) as the basis for the Europa production model; originally intended to succeed the ageless Lotus 7.
The Series 1 or S1 Europe (also known as Lotus Type 46) was announced for sale to European markets on December 20, 1966. The first cars were delivered in France in February 1967. The S1 was fitted with a modified Renault 16 1470 cc engine and a 4-speed gearbox. The engine was a special 82 hp (61 kW) version (as opposed to the 52 hp (39 kW) generated in standard form). Lotus associated the affordable but lightweight Renault engine and gearbox to the revolutionnary Europa longitudinal mid-engined layout, inverting the gearbox's crown wheel and its pinion gear to avoid having four reverse gears. The S1 weighed 610 kg (1512 lb), had a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h), and did 060 mph in 10 seconds. Of particular note, nearly 0.9 g (8 m/s) lateral acceleration was achieved on road tires of that era.
Only 296 examples of the S1 were manufactured (chassis numbers from 460001 to 460296). These cars had extremely light and minimalist construction, with fixed side windows, fixed seats (adjustable pedals needing the use of tools), no door handles, no internal door covers, and an aluminum dashboard. The steel chassis central beam was sandwiched (incorporated) within the fibreglass bodywork, thus reinforcing stiffness, but making repair rather complicated.
Series 1A and B (around 350 built) had removable side windows, wooden dashboard, and internal door panel covers which could accommodate the windows once taken off. Series 1B had a redesigned rear panel, with new, rectangular light clusters.
Including the S1A and S1B (which incorporated some of the later S2 changes) variations, 644 Europa S1s were manufactured. From Series 2 (Chassis Number 0645 onwards), the glassfibre bodywork was not glued to the chassis any longer but bolted and therefore could be separated for repairs.
During 1966, whilst the Factory was sorting out the first production Type 46' (S1), Team Lotus raced the Type 47, a Europa modified for the track, with a 165 hp (123 kW) 1594 cc Lotus/Ford/Cosworth twin cam engine, which used a Cosworth-modified Kent block, and a Hewland FT 200 5-speed gearbox. The Type 47 is fondly remembered for taking both first and second places (driven by John Miles and Jackie Oliver, respectively) in its very first race held at the storied Brands Hatch race course on Boxing Day. It's believed that 55 Type 47s were built by Lotus between 1966-70. Two other sports racer prototypes based on the Europa called, Type 62, were built in 1969. A twin-cam powered Europa would not be available to the roadgoing public until the Type 74, in 1971. Replica 47s are bespoke-manufactured by Banks Europa Engineering, in several variations. A one-off 47, fitted with a Rover V8 engine, was built by GKN in 1968 and registered, GKN 47 D.
The Europa S2, or Type 54, was introduced in April 1968. It used the same Renault engine as the Type 46, but offered a number of refinements, including electric windows, fully adjustable seats, a new interior, and a polished wooden fascia for the dashboard. Per request of the automotive insurance industry, Lotus switched to bolt fasteners (instead of resin bonding) to attach body to frame. A small number of Type 54s were modified to be "federalized", that is, made suitable for export to the United States. The Federal Type 54 was slightly modified. They were actually recalled because of the headlamps being too low (a "bug eye" headlamp raiser was to be installed). The Federal 54 had the low fenders of the European 54, but larger engine of the type 65.
In 1969-70, the Type 65 (also known as S2 Federal) was born, with additional changes to the body, chassis, and the powerplant to better comply with U.S. D.O.T. standards. Among the newer bits, the Renault engine was expanded to 1565 cc capacity over the previous 1470 cc. The front suspension was changed to make the front end of the car taller along with taller front fenders to raise the headlamps. Road&Track Magazine tested the Federal S2 and recorded 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds with a top speed of 116 mph (187 km/h). 3,615 S2s were produced.
In 1971, the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was made available to the public, with a 115 hp (78 kW) 1558 cc "big valve" Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine (105 hp US "Federal" emissions control version until the end of production), a new Renault 4-speed gearbox (Type 352) and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Mike Kimberley, who rose to become chief executive of Group Lotus, then a new engineer at Lotus, was appointed Chief Engineer of the Europa TC project. 1,580 cars were shipped as Europa Twin Cam before Lotus switched to a 126 hp (94 kW) aspirated by Dell'Orto/Weber carburettors version of the same engine; in addition to offering a new Renault 5-speed (Type 365) gearbox option; and renamed the car Europa Special. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), had a top speed of 123 mph (198 km/h), did 060 mph in 7.0 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. A total of 3,130 Specials were manufactured. To honour Team Lotus's 1972 and 1973 F1 World Championship titles, a few black with gold pin stripe plus numbered badge Europa Specials were offered as the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles.
In 2005, Lotus released images of a new GT type car called the Lotus Europa S. It was officially introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Europa S production commenced in July 2006. The engine is a 2.0 L turbo delivering 200 PS (147 kW; 197 bhp) at 5,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 272 Nm (201 lbft) at 5,400 rpm. Delivering 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds (0-100 km/h in 5.8 sec.) With a maximum speed of 143 mph (230 km/h). Lotus has no plans to export the Europa S to the USA before 2008.
The Europa SE was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on 5 March 2008. The Europa SE is an upgraded model with more comfort in mind, intended to bring in more customers. The Europa S motor has been modified to bring power to 225 PS (165 kW; 222 bhp) and torque to 300 Nm (221 lbft).

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