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Launched at the 1967 Brussels Show, the Lotus Type 46 - the Europa - was the marque's first mid-engined road car, and was powered by a Renault 16 engine mounted in an Elan-type backbone frame. Its specification also included all-round independent coil-sprung suspension and disc brakes on the front wheels (subsequently on the rear, too). Unusual styling provided ample luggage space while rearward visibility through the narrow, full-width back window was surprisingly good.
Having been manufactured exclusively for export for its first two years, the Europa made its UK debut in 1969 in improved S2 form. Renault engined like its S1 predecessor, the S2 reverted to a conventional body/chassis attachment, the S1 'shell having been bonded in place - a move that greatly simplified, and cheapened, accident repairs - while electric windows and adjustable seats were welcome additions to the previously somewhat penny-pinching specification. In the autumn of 1971, the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was introduced, powered, as its name suggests, by the Ford-based DOHC engine from the Elan. With 105 bhp on tap, the Twin Cam was good for 117 mph, a figure bettered by the more powerful (126 bhp) 'Big Valve' engined Special model that superseded it after a year.
According to the Lotus Europa Twin Cam Register, Chassis No. 74/1041P was built in the Autumn of 1971 and finally invoiced on 28/10/1971. It's listed as having Engine No.25136, a 4-speed 336-56 gearbox and was originally finished in L14 (Colorado Orange). The stunning little Roman Purple car you see today has come a long way since then. It's been subject to a 12-year fastidious restoration and we are fortunate to have the full details of this 'labour of love'. The report runs to five pages and is too long to list here (please click below) but we can offer the opening paragraph.
"The restoration took place over a 12 year period. The car arrived in a very poor state and it was obvious from the start that this would be an exhaustive and complete restoration. The body was removed and the original chassis exposed and inspected and as suspected was badly corroded across the front T. This is the usual place where corrosion occurs, because of a water build-up over the front T piece. The best option would be to replace the old chassis with a new one. I bought a genuine Lotus chassis that had been refurbished to as new. The idea was to move usable parts from the old chassis to the new, whilst refurbishing during the changeover. As it turned out, very little of the old running gear was salvageable, so new parts were sought out and installed."
The rest of the report is as comprehensive as we have ever seen and, in our opinion, totally confidence-inspiring. We understand that the car has only covered around 2,000 miles since the restoration and certainly presents superbly today in a classic period shade of Roman Purple with Gold pin-stripes and a delightful interior in Beige, Oatmeal and Burr Walnut.
The odometer currently indicates 85,172 miles which is completely academic as most of the car has covered about 2,000 miles. It's fair to say that elderly Lotus sports cars do not have a reputation for being the most reliable forms of transport and, without wishing to denigrate the efforts of the legendary ACBC, build quality didn't win any Oscars either but, in terms of innovative design, no company was better. So this little purple jewel is the best of all worlds combining the looks and handling of the Europa Twin Cam with an engine prepared by one of the best engine builders anywhere and the build quality you would expect from an owner who put thousands of careful hours into his pride and enjoy.
It's remarkably sensibly guided so read the full report below, look at the photographs, and make a decision that, for once, works for both head and heart.