• Lotus 54

The Lotus Europa was a 2-door GT coupe with a mid-engine, manufactured by the British car manufacturer Lotus Cars from 1966 to 1975; in total were built about 9300. Starting in 2006, the Lotus company has reused the historic name for a new car, derived from the Elise platform: the Europa S has had less luck of the ancestor and is out of production in 2010.

The project originated in 1963 with the designs of the then Director of Lotus Engineering Ron Hickman (who was also one of the creators of the Lotus Elan), which constituted a proposal for a competition car for Ford. But the project turned out to be the winner of the Lola Racing Cars, also due to the fact that the Lotus founder Colin Chapman wanted the car bore the name Lotus, while Henry Ford II claimed that he had to include the name Ford. Chapman then chose to use the aerodynamic design of Hickman (which has a drag coefficient still substantial, nowadays, Cd 12:29) as the basis for the production model of Europe. Originally it was to be built to replace the Lotus 7 which, however, remained in production until 1973. The car was built according to the minimalist philosophy of Lotus founder Colin Chapman had indeed the same solution design of the Lotus Elan, the "backbone chassis", ie a frame constituted by a central supporting element in steel box that supports the motor and the suspension and which contains in its interior transmission. The body was made of panels of glass fiber glued to the frame. Europe was not the first car to compete with mid-engine was to be mass-produced and was based on a prototype built by Henry Ford II, who wanted a car that could run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the early sixties. Europe has been designed and built to be an embodiment of Chapman’s philosophy on car design: "Simplify, then add lightness." The suspensions were all arm independent rear frame with Y-shaped, very similar to the Formula 1 cars of the era. Excluding the doors, the hood and the trunk, the body of the car was all one units fiberglass. The extreme maneuverability of Europe brought the journalists of the time to describe how the car from the nearest road to Formula 1.

The Europe Series 1 or S1 (also known as the Lotus Type 46) was offered for sale in the markets of the European continent on December 20, 1966. The first were delivered in France in February 1967, sold under the name of Lotus Europe. For the S1 it was decided to adopt the Renault 16 1470cc engine and a four-speed gearbox. The engine was a modified version from 82hp (61 kW) (versus the 52hp (39 kW) version of normal). We chose to rotate the engine and the gearbox 180 ° to be mounted in longitudinal position. The S1 weighed 686kg and had a top speed of 180km/h. Out of the ordinary was then considered the tire technology of the time, the fact that with this car you were able to achieve 0.9 g (8 m/s ²) of lateral acceleration. Of the earliest and purest S1 series were built only 296 copies. Version S1A and S1B (which already had typical changes of version S2), were built 342 units. Only the first 296 copies of Europe were characterized by extremely minimalistic elements (side windows closed, fixed seats) and by the construction of the chassis in fiberglass completely closed and constructed in one piece around the frame. These models are the rarest on the market.

The Europa S2, or Type 54, was introduced in April 1968. It featured the same engine of the Renault Type 46, but offered some improvements, such as electric windows, seats are fully adjustable, and a control board in the wood. At the request of the insurance industry, Lotus had to change the joints of the frame by adhesive resin to the more traditional bolts. A small number of Type 54 were modified to be "federalized", or render them suitable for export to the United States.

In 1969 came the Type 65 or the Federal S2 with further changes to the chassis, body and engine needed to meet U.S. standards. Among other updates, the Renault engine displacement was increased to 1565cc from the previous 1470cc. The maximum speed was 187km/h. We were produced 3,615 copies.

In 1971, the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was presented to the public, with an engine 115hp (78 kW) 1558cc "big valve" Lotus-Ford Twin Cam, a new gearbox Renault 4-speed (Type 352) and a new shell for improve rear visibility. Mike Kimberley was chosen as chief engineer of the project TC Europe. 1,580 cars were sold as Europa Twin Cam before Lotus passed to an engine from 126hp (94 kW) aspirated by Dell’Orto carburetors/Weber and would add a Renault 5-speed gearbox (Type 365), calling the new version Europa Special. This car weighed 740kg (1631 lb) and had a top speed of 198km/h. They built a total of 3,130 Special Europe. To honor the victories of 1972 and 1973 in Formula 1 were made some commemorative Europe, including one in the famous John Player Special livery.

In 1966, while the Type 46 (S1) was still for sale, Team Lotus used in competitions the Type 47, a Europa modified for the track, equipped with a DOHC engine with 165hp (123 kW) 1594cc Lotus/Ford/Cosworth, which used a Cosworth block and a gearbox Hewland FT 200 5-speed. The Type 47 is proudly remembered for having won the first and second place (led by John Miles and Jackie Oliver, respectively) in the first race at Brands Hatch December 26 of that year. It is estimated that 55 Type 47 were built between 1966 and 1970. Race Two prototypes, based on Europe and called Type 62 were built in 1969. For a Europe road with a DOHC engine, however, had to wait until Type 74 in 1971.

Europe (more specifically, a modified model) is still in production today, not under the Lotus brand, but from Banks/Europe Engineering, a company that produces cars that retain the look and the original philosophy of Europe. The engines range from 1.6 Vauxhall, the Alfa Romeo V6.

In the last months of 2005, Lotus introduced a new sports car that bore the same name of the successful predecessor. The Europa S was officially unveiled at the 2006 Geneva International Motor Show and production began in July 2006. Based on the chassis of the Lotus Elise aluminum extrusions with slight modifications, was equipped with an engine is a 2.0 L turbo origin Opel capable of producing 197hp/147 kW at 5,400 rpm, with maximum torque of 272 N · m at 5,400 rpm. According to data from branched from the house is able to reach 100km/h in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 230km/h. However, despite the good impressions in the press, the sales of the Europa S stentarono to take off.

In March 2008, he was presented in Geneva a revised and improved version of the hitherto ill-fated Europa S, the SE: the Opel engine was brought to deliver 225hp of power, the interiors are better finished and are introduced by the new design alloy wheels more aggressive. In May 2010, after only 456 units produced (of which 48 in SE version), has officially ended production of the unfortunate Europe of the XXI century.