Like many of the best cars on the market, the Europa came about thanks to the dream of its maker, in this case Lotus founder Colin Chapman's desire to build a mid-engined sports car for the masses.
Sadly, it didn't work out quite like that, as costs – and the car’s price-tag – spiralled and owners demanded more than fixed side windows and utility trim, meaning that the final Europa Twin Cam Special version ended up costing £20 more than the Elan Sprint.
Neither was Britain’s answer to a mini-GT40 particularly pretty.
We’ll assume that John Frayling, who styled the Lotus, was having an off day (and forgive the packaging issues of an early mid-engined road car).
I know there are plenty who will disagree, but to me the front looks fine and things go downhill from there with a rear end that’s a touch bulky.
If my own curious take on aesthetics doesn’t put you off, what can you expect from the Europa?
Well, as Alastair Clements discovered (C&SC, September 2010), steering that’s ‘as sharp and as accurate as your wrists can cope with’ is a good place start. It should feel perfectly at home on the track, too, with flat cornering and plentiful grip.
This £16k example (above) should avoid many of those issues. The sales pitch may be brief, but a scout of the dealer’s website tells us its 78bhp Renault engine has been completely overhauled. Better still, it’s an S2 that does without the better-avoided permanently bonded body and chassis.
Even the portly rear can be avoided by opting for the later model Twin Cams (from ’71 onwards). They featured clipped rear pillars and a Lotus-Ford engine with 105bhp.
In Pistachio Green, this near £20k example (pictured) looks as good as its 12-year restoration sounds with ‘a huge A4 file of invoices, bills and various documentation’ coming with the car.
Or, you could have a gem such the car pictured below. For £29,950 it may not be cheap, but with only 5536 largely dry (we would assume) Californian miles, neither should it be. It’s certainly the best car we could find.
In a time when pure, back-to-basics sports cars are increasingly becoming a thing of the past, the Europa makes a compelling case for itself.
Further reassurance, if it’s needed, can be found in our free-to-download Buyer’s guide.