Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1972 Lotus Europa Special

As I have mentioned previously, I love American muscle cars, but when I see something on the side of the road that looks abandoned, I start to like it no matter what it is.  Enter this beauty: a 1972 Lotus Europa, a shadow of its former glory.  That line sounded really good, but this car isn’t as bad as others that I’ve seen.

The paint on this Lotus from The Gabel Collection is rough and bubbling in some sections, it’s dirty, it has a flakey dash, and its tires are low on air.  Aside from that, this car is in pretty good shape.  Mechanically, I have been told that this car will run just fine.  This car has two gas tanks, and two gas caps which point up.  The car did have a car cover over it, but since it has been sitting for a while, water (rain) may have found its way into the tanks due to the placement of the caps, and the car sitting.  The owner told me it would be a fifteen to twenty minute process to get the water out of the tanks, but I decided to skip that step to save time.

This Europa happens to be a “Europa Special” which features a “Big Valve” version of the 1558cc engine that pumps out 126 horsepower over the standard model’s 105.  This may not seem like a lot, but this car weighs only about 1,600 pounds!  That’s nothing!  Numbers like that meant in its day, this car was able to go from zero to sixty in about 6.6 seconds.  For a car in 1972, that’s a good number. 

The owner told me this is a very minimalistic car.  Everything is fiberglass, there is just about no rear window, and everything is super light.  When the hood was opened, I made a comment about the hood prop, which seemed to be a pole that was wedged between the intake manifold/header and the base of the hood.  The owner joked that Lotus didn’t give a way to prop the hood “because it might have actually weighed something.”

I really like the look of this car.  The shape slightly reminds me of the old Ford GT-40s and the Ford GTs.  The GT-40 got its name because it was only 40 inches tall.  This Lotus is 42 inches tall.  With me being 6’2” (74 inches tall), it was a bit of a challenge to get myself in the car.  When I finally managed to wedge myself into the driver seat, the owner mentioned to me in a calm, but assuring voice, “I have to warn you: you just did the easy part.”

Once inside, I realized that the interior was in really good shape.  It was just dirty more then anything.  The dashboard was probably the worst part.  It was very flakey.  Aside from that, a little bit of polish and vacuum would have restored most of it.  Getting out wasn’t too bad.  Just a little wiggling and some lost balance, and I was back on my feet.

I really like this car.  I’ve seen pictures of this model car, and I thought the back end of them was pretty ugly.  In person, it looks pretty nice.  While I have never really been a big fan of Lotus, this 1972 Europa catches my interest.  There were many cars in The Gabel Collection, but this one seems to be one of my favorites. 

Maybe one day when the tanks are water free, and the tires are all aired up, the owner will give me a call, and I’ll be able to go for a ride.


Where did you find this car? Is it still for sale? I owned a Lotus (Eclat) and am currently looking at a Europa S2. I'd prefer a Twin Cam.

Unfortunately I don't even know if it is for sale at all. The owner of the cars of this collection is very, shall I say, "selective" about dealing with people.

So 5 years later, i just bought this car and it’s now in California and I’m working on a full restoration. It looked exactly the same as your pics and video when it arrived. Found this article while searching “lotus Europa hood prop”, what are the chances?!?

That's amazing! Could you send some pictures to "The Random Automotive" on Facebook? I'd love to see the progress and do an update article and video!

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