It’s one of the most forgotten Lotus models, but it’s also one of the most fascinating. In 2005, Lotus used the Europa name again for a small sports car; however, the original Europa was an exotic looking mid-engined GT car built from 1966 to 1975. It may have looked wild at the time, but the Europa was designed to be an affordable mid-engined coupe built to Chapman’s ethos of “simplify, then add lightness.” One of the keys to keeping costs down was using a 1.5-liter Renault engine, which was already lightweight before Lotus set its engineers loose.
In 1971, Lotus introduced the Europa Twin Cam, featuring the 1.5-liter, 105-hp Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine. Following that, Lotus switched to the 126-hp “Big Valve” engine and celebrated its 1972 Formula 1 championship win with a commemorative Special. It was upgraded with a five-speed transmission to replace the Renault four-speed unit, and with the iconic black with gold pinstripe livery to match the John Player Special-sponsored F1 cars. Due to the popularity of the color scheme, Lotus left it available as an option for the Europa, but only the first 100 have the numbered JPS dashboard badge.