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Thread: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

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    Jedi Knight jjbunn's Avatar
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    Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Greetings, friends.

    I may be going to take a look at a Lotus Europa. I believe it's a "Big Bore Special", and is in a poor state. It's been sitting in the hot SoCal sun for a decade. Apparently the bodywork finish has suffered. The gearbox is out. This is a "ran when parked" vehicle, and is supposedly "quite complete".

    Since I'm looking for a ground-up project, this may be a contender. I'd welcome some tips from the experts on what to look for as trouble spots on a Europa? And I guess rust in the body panels isn't one of them :-) What should I take photos of for careful perusal afterwards?

    Thanks!
    Julian
    Julian
    ---------------
    Previously:
    '69 E-Type 2+2
    '74 Porsche 914
    '71 Triumph TR6
    '73 MGBGT "Harold"

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    Yoda
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Julian, was wondering about how you were getting along with your E type. Has it moved on?
    Peter Hays, Chicago, Il
    1959 Morris Minor Convertible - "Truly Scrumptious"
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    Great Pumpkin DrEntropy's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    W00t-W00T!!!!

    Great to know ya still have the LBC "bug"!!!

    WELCOME BACK, too!!

    First thing to ascertain is whether or not you can get in and OUT of the thing comfortably!!

    I don't know what a "big bore special" is, perhaps it's the John Player Special? If so, it'll be black w/gold striping and JPS badges (stick-on vinyl) on the rear of the buttresses. Should have a "Big-Valve" twin OHC Lotus engine. That may be the reference. It came with two Strombergs, 175CD's IIRC.

    Things to look for:

    a) Front uprights, rust at the transition point where the verticals and crossmember are welded.

    b) Door sag. Likely has it. PITA but cure-able.

    c) Rear hub condition. ie bearing slop/play, condition of struts & mounts.

    d) Does the engine turn by hand with plugs out?

    Most of the other components are Triumph derived... front suspension and steering, trim like door handles, cockpit switches, etc.

    The long defunct Lotus West club had a comprehensive cross-over list, ISTR a group called Golden Gate has one now.

    Take a ton of photos an' throw 'em up here! You're now in familiar territory to me, friend. Anything I can do to aid, lemme know!! I've tons of printed reference and a rather faded memory of the things.
    '64 MGB, '67 Lotus Elan S-3 DHC,'69 Lotus Elan +2
    '78 Alfa Romeo Spider-undergoing surgery: O=\*/=O
    '84 300D Turbo-"Diesela"-Now my Daily: Oo|≣|oO
    '02 Toyota Camry- SWMBO's 'new-to-her' Daily. <sigh>
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    Luke Skywalker Roger's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    I rebuilt a Twin Cam Europa from bare chassis upwards, just recently so it's still reasonably fresh in my mind.
    An excellent couple of URLs for you, if you haven't found them yet:

    Lotus Europa Enthusiasts

    Lotus Europa Central

    Good Luck, these are great little cars.

    By the way, the Europa doesn't have the same vertical members as the Elan, to which I think Doc is referring. Nevertheless, rust in the backbone chassis is a consideration, and the rear wheel bearings and axles are a definite weakness, though parts are available. There are a few suppliers when you need them, so you have choices.
    Roger
    Ancient Briton
    '67 Lotus Elan S3
    '72 Lotus Europa TC
    '05 Lotus Elise

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    Great Pumpkin DrEntropy's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Not the same, Roger, I agree. Up front where the "hammerhead" cross-section of the chassis and the backbone meet and out to the ends where the pivot pins for the lower wishbones connect, the box section is enclosed and the weep holes can accumulate dirt/debris/moisture, causing rust. Western PA used salt on the roads and I've seen too many of them with badly weakened chassis in those places (my Elans among 'em) on both models. Be glad it ain't a series-1 Europa!
    '64 MGB, '67 Lotus Elan S-3 DHC,'69 Lotus Elan +2
    '78 Alfa Romeo Spider-undergoing surgery: O=\*/=O
    '84 300D Turbo-"Diesela"-Now my Daily: Oo|≣|oO
    '02 Toyota Camry- SWMBO's 'new-to-her' Daily. <sigh>
    Chaos & Mayhem PTY, LTD..C.I.O. & Floor Sweepervisor

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    Jedi Knight jjbunn's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Thanks, guys - very useful info. I may take a look this weekend, although I suspect the seller wants more than I'm willing to pay. I'll report back once I have some photos and info.

    Doc - I hadn't thought about the getting in and out aspect! The E-Type was pretty roomy once I'd managed to get in it - there was a technique: right leg in first, bottom down on the seat, crook left leg and finagle it over the sill! Perhaps the Europa is like that. (I sold the E-Type as I ran out of things that needed doing to it, so I got bored.)
    Julian
    ---------------
    Previously:
    '69 E-Type 2+2
    '74 Porsche 914
    '71 Triumph TR6
    '73 MGBGT &quot;Harold&quot;

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    Great Pumpkin DrEntropy's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    heeehee!!

    Th' Lotus will need ya to SIT first, swing th' inside leg in, THEN pull the outside leg thru th' portal.

    The thing is biased... driving position MAKES you face about fifteen degrees right of straight ahead.

    But once IN the machine, you'll be absolutely astounded.

    '64 MGB, '67 Lotus Elan S-3 DHC,'69 Lotus Elan +2
    '78 Alfa Romeo Spider-undergoing surgery: O=\*/=O
    '84 300D Turbo-"Diesela"-Now my Daily: Oo|≣|oO
    '02 Toyota Camry- SWMBO's 'new-to-her' Daily. <sigh>
    Chaos & Mayhem PTY, LTD..C.I.O. & Floor Sweepervisor

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    Jedi Hopeful Lotuswins's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Hello Julian,

    I have a 73 Twin Cam Special, which I restored in 2000. It was a 'vision' of mine since 1972 so I took the plunge in 1997 and bought a complete but needed complete restoration TCS in black with gold stripes.

    What to look for? Well, since it seems it is a california car, then the frame should be in good order. They are sheet metal and weigh in at only 80 pounds. The original paint wasn't done too well, and if water has leaked in, you may have a problem around the top of the back bone. They used a horse hair matt between the body and frame and if that soaks with water it can create rust. Other spots are the front of the tee around the bottom areas. The Specials don't have the cracking problems as the earlier versions between the tee and the backbone. Look for accident damage too. The frames are very light, and do okay with normal road shock, but accidents can have detrimental effects and are difficult to straighten. The factory recommended frame replacements for any serious shunt.

    The rear axles are a problem area also, as mentioned previously. They are an adaptation from the Hillman Imp. The problem is that they were made originally of a lower grade steel and the splines would wear. Also, the bearing spacers would compress (again, lower grade steel) causing the ball bearings to be put into lateral stress, causing premature failure. The axle carriers are aluminum, and the bearing fit can be fatigued out if not put together right. All the bits are available, and there are some better than original upgrades you can do to improve their reliability. The TC Specials have the better carriers with larger bearings.

    The transaxles are Renault, and are very nice. My car has 125k on it now, with the original 5 speed gears and all. They do have trouble with weeping around the axle output seals, this is normal and not detrimental. The rear may also leak a bit, where the shift mechanism enters but seals and bearings are available. The shift linkage can be trouble, since it is made of tubing with sealed needle bearing u-joints which get water in them, and freeze up if let sit. You can upgrade to a cable shifter, go to a side shifter, or replace the bearings. I went to a side shifter, and an early linkage so it is more positive. Others have had good luck with just replacement of the u-joints.

    The front suspension is similar to a Spitfire, and uses some of the same components. Shocks are coil over and you can get adjustable height and damping along with stiffer springs for a very nice handling car.

    The twincam motors are sweet. Though they can be expensive to rebuild. I STRONGLY recommend if you have to rebuild it, send the cylinder head to a shop experienced in these heads. They have short valve guides which results in more frequent head restoration needs. I had mine done by a local guy who had done them before, and though it took 6 months to finish, he did a good job. The tricky bits are the guide removal and reinstallation, the seats and grinding to proper valve height, and particularly the cam tappets as the sleeves may need replacing if they wear more than .002 oversize. The lower end of the motor is pretty stout and can be rebuilt easily. Overbore max is .040 though you can sleeved if it cannot be bored further. Be aware though, this is not your chevy small block, and it needs TLC to get it assembled so it doesn't leak too badly. If you are serious, and want to take on a twink, get Miles Wilkins book on the motor, a must have. Ask how many miles on the last rebuild, and if over 30k, consider at least a head rework is in order which will require valves, guides and possibly tappets.

    The brakes are dual power assist, with drums rear, and disks front. Interesting in such a light car. Servo rebuilders are out there (one in San Jose) or you can replace with new Lockeed units. Some have removed them and done okay with just new pads that have a higher friction factor and tolerate the stiffer pedal.

    The body will have stress cracks, and they are repairable by several methods but will require a repaint, obviously. The doors may sag, but that is due to the fiber washers holding the door pin in place have sliped. Since the pins and bushings are steel, they often rust and can be difficult to remove.

    I really love my Europa, its the best handling car I've ever driven. I take it on track days and on the back twisty roads and have a blast. An E ticket ride and you don't have to exceed the speed limit (or not much anyways). But it isn't a highway cruiser as its noisey and not too roomy. If you work at it I'm sure you can make it quieter. The pedals are close together, and you'll need narrow shoes to negotiate the brake and throttle.

    The Europa List on Yahoo is a very active set of enthusiasts. You'll have to join if you purchase the Europa. They have a web site managed by Jerry Johnson, which is great and you can search all the archives very easily.

    Good luck,
    Jerry Rude
    BJ8 - Finally driving and sorting the car...what fun!
    Lotus Europa TCS 'Guenhwyvar'

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    Great Pumpkin DrEntropy's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Good write-up, Jerry.

    I think we all neglected to mention the T/C water pump... if you do up the engine, upgrade to Bean's unit. The originals will need R&amp;R at 30~40K miles, every time. And they're a BEAR to do in the car.
    First step for pump replacement in the book is: "Remove engine/transaxle"!!

    With a lift, I've done 'em in half the book time (engine in the car) but ya need skinny arms and "Lotus fingers" to do that

    For those who would say: "B.S.!!" --- I have living witnesses...
    '64 MGB, '67 Lotus Elan S-3 DHC,'69 Lotus Elan +2
    '78 Alfa Romeo Spider-undergoing surgery: O=\*/=O
    '84 300D Turbo-"Diesela"-Now my Daily: Oo|≣|oO
    '02 Toyota Camry- SWMBO's 'new-to-her' Daily. <sigh>
    Chaos & Mayhem PTY, LTD..C.I.O. & Floor Sweepervisor

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    Luke Skywalker Roger's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Doc, you're right, the water pump's a devil to replace, but on the other hand the Europa pump, not having any side load on it since there's no dynamo or alternator in the belt drive, doesn't suffer as much as Elans, Escorts, or Cortinas.
    Roger
    Ancient Briton
    '67 Lotus Elan S3
    '72 Lotus Europa TC
    '05 Lotus Elise

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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    i live in canada [vancouver] British Columbia and i have a 1970 lotus europa S2 federal special edition. what is this guy going to charge you for that one. because i will sel you mine for 5.000 it just needs some wiring work,window rubbers witch i have, final body sand and paint, and drivers door hinge, it runs and drives.stuff that's been done. engine rebuilt, breaks,calipers,wheel silenders, roaters, power windows working, new rad fan, gas tank steamed.

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    Obi Wan LarryK's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    Sorry to intrude but can't get over the " run when parked, transmission is out ", kind of like "runs good, but will not start! "
    Larry K
    58 Jag 3.4 MK 1 auto under restoration, 57 Jag 3.4 MK1 manual (parts car),
    03 Cooper S, 2011 Cooper S Countryman, 2011 Land Rover LR4 HSE LUX, 1964 Valiant V200
    Also had , 68 Cortina 1600E, 64 Spit 4 & 80 1500, 73 GT6 3, 71 XJ6, 79 XJ6, 86 XJS V-12, 53 XK120 OTS.

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    Jedi Trainee Alphonse's Avatar
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    Re: Lotus Europa - what to look for?

    There is a Yahoo group for the Europa that's pretty large and has some very knowledgable folk there who have gone over these cars from top to bottom and back again. Strongly suggest you seek some advice there before dropping the hammer.
    No matter where ya go, there you are!

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