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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Lotus Europa That Was Almost a Ford GT40


1965 Lotus Europa
The original Lotus Europa was a two-door, mid-engined GT coupe built from 1966 to 1975. Over 30 years later, the name was revived when Lotus built an Elise-derived version of the car called the Europa S. The first Europa was built with founder Colin Chapman’s minimalist philosophy of, “Simplify, and add lightness.”

It had a steel backbone chassis that was first seen in the Elan and a fiberglass body for structural strength. It was based on a sketch by Ron Hickman to compete for Henry Ford II’s contract for a Le Mans racecar, but disagreement over whether it would be a Ford or a Lotus kept that partnership from forming. Ford would move on to develop the car that became the iconic GT40, but Lotus continued with the Evora.
1065 Lotus Europa Profile

It had four-wheel independent suspension with a modified Chapman strut in the rear that was used on his Formula racing designs. A special sandwich bush that was flexible against rear shear but also stiff in compression and tension was required to make the suspension system come together.

The system worked. The car had such impressive handling that many felt it was as close to driving a Formula car as you could get without being a professional driver. The total run of the Europa was 9,300 units.

1965 Lotus Europa Profile