BRITISH CAR DAY
This 1969 Lotus Europa has been owned for about 25 years by its current owner, albeit spending a lot of those years in storage while he worked in the UK and came back with a partner and baby. But now that their son is a bit older, he can finally get back into it.
Originally, the car came to the owner’s attention through a friend, who got it from a relative. That person soon realized that it was more than he could take on, so he sold it to another friend who started taking it apart and did a great job of labelling everything carefully. However, the friend also realized it was just a bit too much for him.
So, at that point, the car’s current owner bought it and completed the dismantling. It took two hours’ work on each door to remove them! And that was just the start of what would become the biggest car project he’s done so far. Over time, it became clear that he was looking at a bit of a basket case that others would not have even touched.
Starting with the chassis and mechanicals, as that is his forte, the owner found the chassis was badly bent and required some very careful sheet-metal work to be done on it. However, being a backbone chassis of simple folded pieces welded together, this was relatively easy.
As he worked through the running gear, it became clear that the entire rear corner units would need to be replaced, as there was excessive wear and damage to almost everything. During a couple of trips to the UK many years ago, he started spending large amounts of money on replacement parts, and later had plenty of contact with Richard at Banks Europa / Europa Engineering, who knows everything about Europas.
The original engine was a 1470cc Renault with four-speed transaxle and the decision was made early on to upgrade to the Renault TX 1647cc cross-flow engine, which is the basis for the Gordini engine. Also, the five-speed transaxle is being used. The owner was lucky to obtain a brand new pair of Dellorto 40 carburettors, an inlet manifold, and a set of handmade headers from Banks, as well as adjustable coil overs and the fancy rear linkage system that takes lateral load off the transaxle.
The body was a mess. No less than 14 coats of paint had to be scraped off by hand, but it wasn’t until the full extent of the bodywork was revealed that the owner realized that he was really eating an elephant. There was only one thing to do — go one bite at a time. Work progressed over a couple of years, on and off, until it was in primer and looking not too bad. The owner has done all the work himself and has probably worked on 95 per cent of the body in some way or other.
There is serious progress being made now, with the body and rolling chassis reunited and bolted together. Considering what he has achieved already, the rest will be ‘easy’!