We found this sweet Europa in need of some TLC. This TwinCam, 5spd car has a nice interior but needs some mechanical work and exterior restoration. A discerning enthusiast has secured this car from us for restoration. Follow our progress below.
Lotus HQ offer a nice service that provides a detailed history of your car. We submitted the VIN and received the following certificate.
We secured a new windshield for the car so we had the old one removed. Since this car is getting a full color change, we will wait to install the new windshield until after paint.
The client fell in love with a light blue Europa back in the 70s and requested we find an appropriate color. We dug into the files and found Wedgewood Blue. The client was happy with this so we will paint her to match. I actually fell in love with an old Elite many years ago in this color so can’t wait to see it on this Europa.
We knew that this car had been repainted and with the composite body, we wanted to show the client a couple of finishing options. We took the hood and removed the paint down to the bare fiinerglass. We then applied one layer of primer and also a section with two layers of primer. The two layer solution provides the best surface for the painting and will result in a finish that approaches metal. The one layer of primer is also quite good and arguably as good as factory finishes. After the client reviewed the panel, he wisely chose the two layer process.
The guys got to work and started to remove the paint. This is done by hand. We discovered that the car has never been wrecked with no signs of repairs. That is always a relief!
We separated the body from the chassis. This also shows us the simplicity of the Europa and so many other Lotus. We have a fair amount of mechanical work that will be needed on this car. Luckily there are many good suppliers of sorted products. The client is intent on driving this car so wants proper handling and brakes.
The rear trunk lid was repaired and now looks great.
The first of two layers of primer were applied to the body. This first layer was blocked to smooth it out. We can fix minor imperfections at this step as well.
One area that we needed to repair was in the driver door hinge area. The fiberglass appeared to be getting weak in this area. We add more material and smoothed it out. Primer, sanding, some filler, more sanding and another coat of primer.
The rest of the body was also ready for the second layer of polyester primer. This will ensure the surface is as good as it can be for the paint. We will let this second layer cure for a couple of weeks before applying the Lotus Wedgwood Blue color.
The interior of the car needed some attention. The dash and dash pad covers are in bad shape. We found a company in NorCal that makes beautiful dashes. We ordered one in Walnut with the stereo delete and glovebox cover.
Our client wants the chassis fully stripped and powdercoated. The engine was not running so we know we are in for a rebuild. The transmission will also get looked at to confirm operation.
The dash has arrived from Prestige Autowood. Randy was able to delete the radio opening and create a function glovebox door – the stock car simply has a gaping hole. American Walnut is looking awesome.
We reorganized our shop to create build areas for the cars we are restoring. The Europa is the first car to go into this new space. We’ve begun taking the chassis apart. This has allowed us to scrutinize the various components and hardware further. The brake booster will be deleted and the master cylinder will be replaced. New brake rotors, pads/shoes will be installed. A new suspension will also be added along with new rubber bushes and more.
Our client has instructed us to fully strip and powder coat the chassis. Reassembling with a nice clean, freshly coated chassis is always a pleasure.
We have the chassis stripped and it will get sent to powdercoat this week. At this point, assessing the condition of the chassis and various components is not only easier, but also more thorough. The steering rack, as an example, is looking and operating a bit roughly. We will look into rebuilding it, or replacing it. The chassis itself, has some surface rust, but no real cancer for us to worry.
The engine is out and will get rebuilt. My old friend, Ken@Mountune, will rebuild this TwinCam. He has done 150 of them, so knows his way around these motors. Ken is a Lotus fan from way back, so we are in really good hands. The gearbox is a Renault five-speed (Type 365). Though it feels like it is working, we will have a local gearbox rebuilder have a look at it. It has been sitting for so long that a refresh is probably in order.
Our friends at Temecula Powder Coating have our chassis stripped and cleaned. They noticed some bent flanges so will hammer and dolly them flat. Satin Black powdercoat will get applied and it will come back to us for assembly.
Our client decided to have us delete the bumpers and all extra badges except for the nose badge. Jesus had to fill in these holes from the inside and out.
The engine should be complete soon but we ran into a snag with the transmission. We have to find a new rebuilder as our original choice was unable to get the work done. We ordered a new wiring harness for the car and was originally quoted 10-12 weeks which is now stretching out to 14 weeks. These harnesses are custom built for this car in England. Patience is key.
The wheels were in rough condition so we had them stripped and refinished. They look great now.
We found a company to rebuild the retractable 3pt seat belts. The new suspension and brakes have also arrived. We are deleting the brake booster on this car to simplify and hopefully improve feel and performance. The interior carpet has arrived along with a host of other misc items. We sent out the steering rack for a rebuild as it was also looking a bit worn.
The interior is getting stripped out and cleaned. We will paint the exterior soon.
We had Ken@DaveBean rebuild the steering rack as it was feeling like it need some TLC. New tie rods, boots and more were installed. Lotus steering feel is legendary so we wanted to ensure that would be intact.
We did a spray out sample of the Lotus Wedgwood Blue. It is a great color and quite period correct. The color shifted based on the light. Outside, it looks especially good. The client approved the color and we plan to paint it next week. He will be in attendance and will get a chance to view the painting process.
The holes for the bumpers and badges were filled and then primered. About 2 days of work will go into blocking the primer to get it ready for paint. Again, the amount of work that is done before applying any color is significant and makes the difference between a good and a great paint job.
Mountune finished the engine build with some smart upgrades. It looks great and we expect a stronger and more reliable engine thanks to their efforts.
The body received the final sanding and sealer before it was painted. Foirst it received a white sealer/primer that would allow the Blue to really shine.
Our client came in with his wife to see the car get painted. It was great to see them both. They were as excited as we were, to get the beautiful Lotus Wedgwood Blue color onto the body. First the PPG base coat and then the clear coat.
Color sand, buff, polish will come after we let the paint cure.
Brake work is under way. We are deleting the booster in an effort to simplify the system and improve the overall performance.
Suspension is coming together. We have fresh bushes, bearings and replated hardware. Naturally some threads need to be retapped as the new powder coat penetrated some threads.