The Lotus Europa Series 1 Sports Car – Cars Article

A review of The Lotus Europa Series 1 Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the eleventh model in the Lotus range.In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Lotus Europa Series 1, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the period 1967 to 1968.The Europa Series 1 Type 46In the 1960′s, the concept of a mid-engined sports car was regarded as the special preserve of only racing cars and exotic road cars.Consequently, when Lotus, known primarily as a producer of racing cars, introduced the Europa in 1966, it became the first car manufacturer to offer a mid-engined sports car at a price that many people could afford.In fact, the engine was positioned, for optimal balance and handling, between the passenger compartment and the rear wheels.By the mid 1960′s, the racing cars produced by Lotus had gained world wide prominence.One of the reasons for this was that a mid-engined Lotus had swept aside competition to win the 1965 Indianapolis 500 race, with the result that other racing car producers switched from traditional front engine layout to a mid-engine format.Although Colin Chapman had considered the idea of a mid-engined road car, until the mid 1960′s, there were no suitable engines and drivetrains, available in quantity, that were also realistically priced.To complicate matters, his existing production facilities were fully stretched building the successful Lotus Elan, in all its variants.However, in 1965, the picture changed, when Renault launched the Renault 19 saloon, its first front wheel drive car.After considering his options, he decided to acquire additional production facilities near Norwich, on the site of a WW2 US Air Force Base.The plan was for a mid-engined sports car, powered by a modified Renault 16 engine and drivetrain, which would be designed and built by Lotus.He was keen to build a foothold for his road cars in Europe, and take advantage of the recently created European Common Market.To this end, his agreement with Renault stated that, for the first few years, he would focus his marketing efforts for the new car solely on the Continent.He initially wanted to name his car the “Europe” but, owing to legal constraints, was forced to change it to Europa.Furthermore, an additional benefit resulting from this agreement was that Lotus would no longer be heavily reliant upon Ford for its engines.The car would have bolt on wheels, and the braking system would consist of discs at the front and drums at the rear.An important feature of the mid-engine layout was that it would greatly reduce body roll, offer a higher level of grip, and generate the handling characteristics associated with Lotus cars.Like previous Lotus road cars, the new model would be offered as either a factory built unit, or in the form of a self assembly kit.Unfortunately, as it would turn out, the build quality of the Europa would be on a par with previous models, in that it would be average, at best.The Series 1 Lotus Europa sports car, also known as the Type 46, was a two door, mid-engined, fixed head coupe, that was launched in December 1966.The original Europa was designed as a club sports racer, to act as a replacement for the Lotus Seven.Like the Elan, it had a fibreglass moulded body fitted to a steel backbone chasssis, which would keep the weight down to a minimum.It had independent coil spring suspension all round, with a form of MacPherson strut on the rear.With the exception of the doors, bonnet, and boot, the fibreglass body was created as a single unit.It had a drag coefficient of 0.29, and superb handling.It was fitted with a lightweight aluminum alloy, modified Renault 16, 1470 cc, inline 4-cylinder, overhead valve engine, developing 82 bhp, compared with the 52 bhp from the standard unit.It had a maximum speed of 121 mph, with a 0-60 mph time of 9.3 secs.Only 296 units of the Series 1 Type 46 were ever built.To keep production costs low, the car was of a basic construction, with side windows that would not move, fixed seats, a lack of handles on the door, no internal door covers, and an aluminium dashboard.However, the later Series 1A and 1B had removable side windows, a wooden dashboard, and internal door panels that were able to accommodate the windows, when removed.Rear vision consisted of a narrow slot behind the driver’s head, which only gave a view directly to the rear.In total, 348 units of the Series 1A and 1B were built, which meant that 644 Europa Series 1′s were finally built.Europas were very fragile, with the lightweight body subject to easy destruction.The steel chassis central beam was resin bonded to the fibreglass body, which helped reinforce stiffness, but making repair unduly complicated.Furthermore, the steel backbone was prone to rust.This marked the end of the Lotus Europa Series 1 Type 46Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favourite?However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Morgan sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1911 to 1996.I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane.”

The Lotus Mark 1 to 6 Sports Car – Cars Article

A review of The Lotus Mark 1 to 6 Sports Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the first model in the Lotus range.In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Lotus Mark 1 to 6, one of an elite group of classic cars, which were manufactured during the period 1948 to 1952.The Lotus Mark 1In 1948, Colin Chapman designed and built his first sports car, designated the Lotus Mark 1, which he called the Austin 7 Special.It was conceived as a trials car, and was built on a 1937, 750 cc, 15 bhp Austin 7 saloon car chassis and drive train.The body consisted of aluminium panels bonded to plywood, which gave it additional strength.He modified the rear suspension to improve handling, and the engine to develop more power.Later on, larger wheels were added, and the front axle was split and hinged in the centre so as to convert it into a form of independent suspension.That same year, the Mark 1 was entered into two trials, and achieved its very first Class win in each.The Lotus Mark 2In 1949, he created the Lotus Mark 2 which was, in essence, a modified version of the Mark 1.The chassis was strengthened, the Austin 7 back axle was retained, and the Austin engine and gearbox were replaced by those from a Ford 10 saloon.This engine used an 1172 cc, straight 4-cylinder, side valve engine, which developed 30 bhp at 4000 rpm.He modified this engine as much as the trials rules would allow, and competed in trials events, funded by the 750 Motor Club, which promoted the sporting use of the 750 cc Austin 7.He also entered the car in race meetings, such as Silverstone, in which he gained a Class win.From then onwards, he centred his attention on racing circuits rather than trials events.The Lotus Mark 3Built in 1951, the Mark 3 was designed as a single seater, 750 road racer.Retaining the Austin 7 gearbox and differential, he strengthened the chassis, added a streamlined two seater aluminium body, and modified the engine.This circuit race car had a top speed of 90 mph, with a 0-50 mph time of 6.6 secs.Within the year, the Mark 3 was the best performing 750 Formula road race car in the UK, and was the first Lotus sports car to be sold.It did so well that the racing governing bodies had to change the rules so that other competitors had a chance against the Mark 3.The Lotus Mark 4Built in 1952, this used a reinforced Austin 7 chassis, and an 1172 cc, 4-cylinder, Ford side valve engine, fitted to a three speed gearbox from a Ford 8 saloon.It used a lightweight aluminium body, and the front axle was again split and hinged to produced an equivalent form of independent suspension.Based on his success with this car, Colin Chapman set up the Lotus Engineering Company that year.The Lotus Mark 5This was his single seater concept in which a car based on a non supercharged Austin 7 engine could reach 100 mph.It never materialised.The Lotus Mark 6In late 1952, he realised there was latent demand for the sale of parts to individual customers, who would then build their own cars.As a result, progress on the Mark 5 was halted for this new market potential to be investigated.That same year, the first production Lotus, the Mark 6, was introduced.It was available as a kit car, with a choice of engines and gearboxes.It incorporated an aluminium body on an advanced spaceframe chassis, which would accept a number of different engines, with mechanical parts available from the Ford Prefect saloon.Its superior performance and excellent handling characteristics made it a popular road race car.Typical engines included:
1172 cc, straight 4-cylinder, side valve unit, from a Ford Prefect, and developing 50 bhp
1250 cc, straight 4-cylinder, overhead valve unit, from an MG TD Midget, and developing 57 bhp
1500 cc, straight 4-cylinder, overhead valve unit, from an MG TF Midget, and developing 63 bhp
1508 cc, straight 4-cylinder, overhead valve unit, from a Ford Consul, and developing 47 bhp
Various Coventry Climax Units
By 1955, 100 of the Mark 6′s had been built.Typical performance from the Ford Prefect engine was:
Power: 50 bhp
Torque: 57 ft/lbs
Top speed: 93 mph
0-60 mph time: 15.0 secs
As it turned out, this model was a resounding success, and formed the basis for the introduction of the Mark 7, the illustrious Lotus 7 sports car.This marked the end of the Lotus Mark 1 to 6Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favourite?However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Morgan sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1911 to 1996.I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.