1971 Lotus Europa Twin Cam
(Featured on 6th December 2013)
Sellers original description:
With detailed documentary evidence from the renowned Lotus Specialist Paul Matty, to support a very comprehensive rebuild and restoration some ten years ago, this delightful original UK spec Lotus Europa Twin Cam fitted with a superb, bespoke five speed gearbox conversion, Spydersport spaceframe chassis and complete Spydersport front suspension wishbone set-up is currently taxed, MOT’d and ready to enjoy to the full.
The extent of Matty's work alone was summed up on their itemised invoice which can be summarised as follows:-
All trim removed, doors, boot, bonnet, all lights and bumpers - all paint removed and any repairs attended to. Full prime and repaint in correct Lotus yellow - Refit all parts with new gaskets, bobbins, hinge pins etc - wiring loom stripped out and completely replaced - new starter, carb overhaul and new screen.
No wonder it was nearly ten grand!!
Obviously the five speed gearbox conversion makes the car so much more of a day to day proposition than the traditional four speed offering as it is far more relaxed at higher modern day cruising speeds and of course the driver is able to make far better use of the available twin cam power, given five nice ratios to enjoy. That said, a Lotus Europa Twin Cam is always a very spirited and engaging car to drive, more like a Caterham 7 with the luxury of a roof, doors and windows rather than a high speed, luxurious and comfortable GT. It really does live up to its reputation as a proper race car for the road with its true mid mounted engine and formidable race bred handling and heritage. One look underneath at the exquisite Lotus wishbone suspension leaves you in no doubt whatsoever that this is a supreme driver focused car.
In its heyday, its exotic, avant garde mid engine layout drew much praise from the motoring press and although the very basic early S1 cars and the slightly more developed S2 cars, also with Renault engines had their detractors and certainly many shortcomings, with the advent of the famous Twin Cam almost all these issues were addressed. It has now become a very desirable and sought after classic Lotus, following in the footsteps of the diminutive Elan.
My own car was originally registered in October 1971 and its thick history file reads like a Who’s Who of respected Lotus specialists.
With invoices covering items such as simple nuts, bolts and gaskets through to upgraded steering racks and specialist chassis and suspension components, marque experts such as Europa Engineering, Paul Matty, Vegantune, QED, Christopher Neil, Spydersport and Len Street of Chelsea make regular appearances. This car has clearly been looked after throughout its life and MOT’s spanning thirty one years also give a valuable insight as to how it has been used.
Since its costly and extensive renovation by Paul Matty in 2003, the car has covered a respectable twelve thousand miles, and having recently completed an extensive tour I can certainly attest to its integrity and usability. Its most recent MOT was completed in April without any issues and so this superb little sports car really is just ready to be driven and enjoyed.
Sure, there’s the odd, very minor niggle as you might expect from a forty year old classic but these small things are confined to nothing more than a frequency related buzz to the gearlever at certain engine rpm. Everything else works as it should, from the slightly optimistic speedometer through to the fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, temperature gauge and ammeter to the interior light and matching door locks and luggage compartment locks. My only other issue lies with the self park on the wipers but I tend not to drive it in the wet and so that really is a minute detail that perhaps could be rectified one day with something as simple as a park switch.
Boasting upgraded Lumenition Optronic electronic ignition, the classic Twin Cam barks readily to life with no smoking, great oil pressure and no issues whatsoever. Coaxed gently to warm-up or run with a little choke for a couple of miles, the eager twin cam Lotus engine responds very enthusiastically, breathing via K&N filters through a pair of twin Dellortos and exiting through a 'Double S' stainless rear silencer. The tight-gated and accurate five speed ‘box is an absolute delight which is very unusual for a Europa, except of course for the odd buzz from the gearlever as mentioned earlier.
With modern niceties such as period electric windows, good heating and ventilation and comfortable inertia reel seatbelts, this striking Europa in its original Lotus colour is a great place to be and it positively encourages the enthusiastic driver to become intimately involved and to really enjoy and exploit its unerring precision. It even has a decent amount of luggage space thanks to the excellent packaging, allowing long weekends away or serious road trips to be perfectly practical and tremendous fun. Its handling balance and poise is a delight just as you might expect from a Chapman mid engine masterpiece and with its ultra light weight, the glorious twin cam engine provides tremendous urge, a great soundtrack and of course it looks absolutely stunning – fantastic!
Small details such as the correct size, matching pattern Yokohama tyres fitted to the different size Minilite style alloy wheels front to back and the distinctive and correct slightly nose-up stance show that the car is just how it should be, and although the paint finish may be ten years old now, it really is genuinely lovely. Of course there’s the odd small stonechip and a small area on the rear engine cover that isn't quite perfect, but overall this Europa is absolutely gorgeous with great chromework and it presents even better physically than it does in the photographs - don't forget its paint is at least ten years old, not ten weeks old and it really looks this good. As ever with these incredible cars from the genius Colin Chapman, you can spend your precious time with your classic driving and tinkering rather than forever chasing the dreaded rust around the bodywork from one season to the next as is often the case with older cars!
It must have been retrimmed at some time, perhaps when it was restored as although the superb interior doesn’t look brand new, it does look exceptionally good with excellent carpets, good headlining and seats, a great dashboard and dash top with working instruments, instrument lights and lovely switchgear – all in all, just right and certainly good enough to be proud of on the classic car show circuit if that's your particular interest. Although it's truly lovely, please bear in mind that it's not been prepared for Concours d'Elegance awards - just for driving!
With a boyhood dream now realised and an early Esprit to look after, it’s time for someone else to enjoy some serious Lotus Europa Twin Cam fun and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. For the price of something rather bland and uninteresting and for less than many other ostensibly similar Twin Cams being offered for sale, you could be at the wheel of something really special with great British pedigree, outstanding racing heritage, strong investment value and of course that unmistakable Lotus driving experience - there really is nothing like it.