First mid-engined Lotus

The Europa concept is believed to have originated during 1963 with drawings done by Ron Hickman, then director of Lotus Engineering, for Lotus' bid for the Ford GT40 racing car project. When that contract was lost to Lola Cars, Chapman chose to use Hickman's highly efficient aerodynamic design, which had a drag coefficient of only Cd 0.29, as the basis for a new mid-engined production model originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7.

By the mid-1960s, the mid-engine vehicle configuration was well-established as the optimal design for Grand Prix cars, however almost no road vehicles yet used this arrangement. Lotus planned the Europa to be a volume-produced, two-seater mid-engined sports coupe built to reasonable cost, quite an ambitious goal for the time. Like all Lotus vehicles of the era, the Europa was designed and built following Chapman's oft-stated philosophy of automotive design: "Simplify, then add lightness". To this end, a number of ingenious design approaches were made by Lotus to allow it to economically overcome the many challenges presented by the novel mid-engined arrangement.

Lotus Founder and Principal Colin Chapman created the Europa, as its name suggests, for the European market, which explains his choice of Renault’s commendable R16 1565cc alloy-block inline-4 engine and companion 4-speed gearbox. The Europa’s remarkably strong, steel-backbone chassis and all-independent suspension, comprising front wishbones, rear transverse links and radius rods with coilovers all around, echoed that of the Elan, yet departed from that car with its front disc and rear drum brakes. The Europa’s unique unstressed fibreglass body maintained Chapman’s philosophy of ‘adding lightness’ while also giving the car a distinct aerodynamic advantage and a truly sporty appearance that still appeals today.

One of the finest examples known today, this 1969 Lotus Europa S2 Federal Coupe was beautifully refinished in the original Bahama Yellow paint, and both front and rear bumpers were rechromed. The steel-backbone frame was completely disassembled, blasted with a dustless blaster, epoxy primed and painted black. Its Renault R16 inline-4 engine was rebuilt and upgraded with a new carburetor. The interior was refreshed with new seats, door panels, carpet and dash, and the car features new glass, restored electric window regulators and upgraded stainless-steel door hinges. Originally fitted with 13-inch steel wheels, this Europa S2 now sports 15-inch Minilite-style 8-spoke alloy wheels running Kumho’s outstanding Ecsta 4X performance tires. Additionally, the car features new adjustable coilover shock absorbers and a throaty, new exhaust system.

Mecum Auctions will be offering this beautiful 1969 Lotus Europa S2 at their upcoming Monterey auction held between the 15-17th August. For more information on this and other vehicles at the sale, click on the link below. Photos: © Courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

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