The Lotus Europa is 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 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 was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman's earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut's use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car's handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet (hood), and boot (trunk), the body was moulded as a single unit of fiberglass. In all, Lotus built about 9,300 Europas.
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. Because VW owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany, cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa.
The Series 1 or S1 Europa (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 inline-four 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 revolutionary Europa longitudinal mid-engined layout, inverting the gearbox's crown wheel on its pinion gear to avoid having four reverse gears. The S1 weighed 610 kg (1512 lb), Autocar magazine achieved a top speed of 121 mph (195 km/h), and did 0–60 mph in 9.3 seconds. Of particular note, in excess of 0.9 g (8 m/s²) lateral acceleration was consistently achieved by Car magazine on road tires of that era.
Only 296 examples of the S1 were manufactured (chassis numbers from 460001 to 460296). These are the rarest on the market. 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.
Although the original Europa was intended as a clubmans sports racer to replace the Lotus 7, it was realised that the car would be uncompetitive with the Renault engines available. A decision was therefore made for Lotus Components to manufacture a specialist race car based on the Europa to be raced by Team Lotus and sold to private entrants. Although the very first Type 47 was based on a modified Europa, all subsequent cars were produced entirely by Lotus Components rather than the main factory. Launched at the same time as the S1 Europa, the body of the 47 was thinner than the standard Europa and with larger wheel arches. Side vents into the engine bay were added after the 1st few cars after problems with engine bay temperatures. The Engine, Gearbox and rear suspension were completely different to the standard Europa and were taken in their entirety from the Lotus 23/Lotus 22 Formula Junior 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 and suspension with reversed bottom wishbone, top link and dual radius arms. 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. Exact production numbers are unknown, the last car was 47GT-85 but it is unlikely 85 47GT's were produced, estimates vary from 55 to 68 during the years 1966-70. Although the 47GT is the best known, a few 47F's were produced, these had the detachable body similar to the S2 Europa, but retaining the large wheel arches and side vents of the 47GT. Fitted with a tuned Ford cross flow engine but with the Renault gearbox and rear suspension of the Europa. The number produced is unknown but probably no more than 6. As a mobile test bed for the new Lotus 2 litre engine being developed for the forthcoming Elite and Eclat, the Type 62 was produced. Only 2 cars were ever made. These were space frame cars with F1 suspension to handle the 240 hp from the engine. Although deliberately made to resemble the Europa in practice the only connection to the Europa was a few of the Europa's body panels. It did win it's 1st event the 1969 BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch with John Miles and Brian Muir at the wheel. Replica 47's and 62's are bespoke-manufactured by Banks Europa Engineering, in several variations. A one-off 47, fitted with a Rover V8 engine, was built for GKN in 1968 and registered, GKN 47 D, with 300 hp it was capable of 180 mph (290 km/h).
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. Perhaps 200 of these were made.
In 1969-70, the Type 65 (also known as S2 Federal) was born specifically for export to the US, with additional changes to the body, chassis, suspension and the powerplant to better comply with U.S. D.O.T. standards. Production of the 54 continued for cars supplied to the rest of the world. Among the changes, the engine was a slightly modified emission controlled Renault 16TL 1565 cc engine producing 80 hp rather than the 1470 cc engine of the Type 54. 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 105 bhp 1558cc [Lotus-Ford Twin Cam] engine (105 bhp US "Federal" emission standard emissions control version with Stromberg carbs, until the end of production) and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Initially with the same gearbox as the earlier cars, once the supply had been exhausted in 1972 a new stronger Renault 4-speed gearbox (Type 352) was introduced. 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 bhp "Big Valve" version of the engine The "Europa Special" version aspirated by Dell'Orto carburettors version of the same engine; in addition to offering a new Renault 5-speed (Type 365) gearbox option. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), Motor magaxine famously tested a UK Special to a top speed of 123 mph (198 km/h), did 0–60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. This at a time when all road tests were carried out with both a driver and passenger, with only the driver on board the 0–60 mph time would have been well under 6 seconds, a phenomenal performance for the period.
Introduced in September 1972 the first 200 big valve cars were badged and painted to honour the just won Team Lotus's 1972F1 World Championship title with John Player Special as sponsors, all with 5 speed gearbox, these were all black with gold pin stripe matching the livery of the GP cars – plus a numbered JPS dash board badge, becoming the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles. The "Special" name and colour scheme was planned to be dropped after the first 200 cars, reverting to the Twin Cam name, but such was the reaction to the new car that the name and pin stripe scheme remained until the end of Europa Production although colours other than black were made available. In the end only the numbered plaque distinguishing the first 200 JPS cars from other black Europa Specials. In total 4710 Type 74's were produced of which 3130 were "Specials".
Source: Wikipedia, 2012