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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Although it has weird looking, actually managed to help the maker survived

The name 'Europa' is sounds beautiful and made us will directly imagined to the figure of a beautiful woman. It turns out, in the automotive world, this name has also been used on a car model. At least two automakers have named their cars after that beautiful name. First, the Italian manufacturer Bizzarrini Spa. with the Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europa which was originally projected as the Opel GT.
Lotus Europa S1 (Type 46) is built by Lotus Cars of England from 1966 to 1968 and powered by a Renault's 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with four-speed manual transaxle. (Picture from: FavCars)
And the next car was the Lotus Europa, a unique two-seater sports car made by British manufacturer Lotus Cars in the middle of 1960s to early 1970s. The car is indeed extraordinary because even though it has a somewhat awkward style, it can appear and become popular as a junior-sized sports car that wears the Lotus badge and is powered by a tepid Renault engine.

This was made possible because its mid-engine design (between the passenger compartment and rear wheel), spectacular driving characteristics, and reasonable price made it an important revenue generator that kept Lotus afloat and helped to propel the company's professional racing team to continue to take part in the various world's major racing events.
Lotus Europa S1 (Type 46) is rather weird look, as you can see, at front it was pure sports car, but behind the seats, the design went off track as possessing the appearance look like a wacky bread van. (Picture from: AutoFun)
And the key figure behind the birth of the Europa was Colin Chapman, a visionary founder and chief engineer for Lotus Cars of England, was never one to follow convention and the wide range of sports cars he produced over the years reflected this fact.

Although most of his creations were technically superior to anything else being built, they tended to be poorly assembled and usually required frequent and expensive maintenance to keep them roadworthy. Still, Chapman enjoyed near cult status among long-suffering, but fiercely loyal Lotus owners who put up with just about any inconvenience for the driving thrills that their none-too-trusty cars delivered.

As we all knew, originally he had focused on open-top roadsters in the 1950s and '60s, but undertook a completely different direction while with the Europa, which was launched in 1966. Physically, it has an unusual shaped, defied description and baffled fans and critics alike at the time.
Lotus Europa S1 (Type 46)'s weird look to hide the French-made 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transaxle. (Picture from: AutoFun)
As you can see, between the front bumper and the doors, it was pure sports car, but behind the seats, the design went off track, prompting some to refer to the Europa's slab sides and flat rear deck that extended out behind a narrow ribbon of rear window as possessing the appearance of a wacky bread van. Besides the awkward shape, the lack of decent luggage space or even roll-down windows also created public consternation.

But Chapman never heard and considered all the gossips. The car looks that way for a reason, and that's to hide the French-made 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transaxle originally developed for the front-wheel-drive Renault 16. While on the Europa, the entire powertrain was positioned lengthwise directly behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle.
Lotus Europa S2 (Type 54) is built by Lotus Cars of England from 1969 to 1974 and initially powered by a Renault's 1,647 cc four-cylinder naturally aspirated and then swap into a Ford's 1.6-liter twin-cam engine coupled with five-speed manual transaxle in the 1971. (Picture from: Artebellum)
The engine is capable of spitting out about 78 horsepower to propel the 1,350 lbs weighted Europa up to the top speed that's almost the same speed as today's economy cars of 60 mph. However, it was enough to keep most buyers at the time quite amused. The unique fact that the driver's backside practically scraped the ground helped create the illusion of speed.

After all, the Europa's precise suspension and direct steering are really Europa's points of excellence. In designing the car, Chapman stuck to the tried and true one-piece backbone chassis used in previous Lotus models that helped keep Europa's center of gravity tucked into Earth. However, it turns out that the size and shape of the chassis greatly limits the cabin space, so that tall and/or wide passengers practically have no hope of being able to enter the car's claustrophobic cabin.
Lotus Europa S2 (Type 54) is built by Lotus Cars of England from 1969 to 1974 and featured with power windows and other minor comfort improvements. (Picture from: ClassicCarGarage)
The Europa's plastic shell was bonded (by glueing it) to the chassis to further keep the weight down. Unfortunately, this approach made repairing damaged body panels a burden, so were eventually substituted by the bolts.

Initially, the arrangement with Renault gave the French automaker exclusive rights to sell the original Series I Europa in Europe. However, by 1969, Chapman was able to market his mid-engined sports car marvel to the rest of the world (specifically the sports-car-hungry North American market), then he upgraded the car to Series II models is powered by a larger version of the Renault 16 engine.
Lotus Europa S2 (Type 54) is built by Lotus Cars of England from 1969 to 1974 and also featured a wonderful wooden dashboard and a glass sunroof. (Picture from: ClassicCarGarage)
The Europa S2 was available in Great Britain as an unassembled kit car (similar to the bare-bones-basic Lotus Super 7 roadster) to avoid the country's onerous purchase taxes. As a bow to convention and to satisfy the export market, the car featured power windows and other minor comfort improvements.

In 1971, the Europa underwent an engine change to a Ford-Cortina-based 1.6-liter twin-cam engine that initially produced 105 horsepower but was quickly updated to 126 horsepower as the result made the car's time from zero to 60 mph down by more than two seconds. This was able to make the weekend club racers rejoiced and the marque's purists were relieved that finally a "proper" Lotus engine and five-speed manual gearbox had found their way into the Europa's engine bay.
By the time the Europa was retired in 1974, more than 9,200 units had been produced. Although it wasn't enough to worry mainstream manufacturers, but it was certainly a success story by Lotus standards. As one of the first mass-produced mid-engined sports cars, the Europa broke new engineering ground and its low price (around $4,600) kept it within range of a wider group of buyers.

The Lotus next models that followed, even after Colin Chapman's death in 1982, were, and continue to be geared to more upscale enthusiasts. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NEWSDAY | FAVCARS | AUTOFUN | CLASSICCARGARAGE ]
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