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. First 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. Rebuilt steering rack has been installed with new tie rods.
Fuel tanks have been stripped, resealed, primered (rust colored!) and then painted black. We were painting a Lotus 211 with black paint so it seemed appropriate to use the same to coat these tanks.
We’ve refreshed the brake calipers and installed new pads and rotors
We started installing the new wiring harness – and of course it does not match. We have a couple issues to sort out with it. Lucas strikes again?! 8^)
We secured a gearbox from a local Lotus client (thx Joji!) which got us out of mechanical funk that we were in for a few months. This gearbox appears to be working but we decided to install it and run the car before we consider rebuilding it. Other parts have been arriving allowing us to start assembling the rear suspension and more.
Mating the powertrain together and installing it into the chassis has been a great milestone – except we discovered another issue. It turns out the engine mounts we had were broken and the replacements did not fit. The source of this dilemma is the fact that the engine block we have is non-stock. Here’s my TC engine expert, Ken’s explanation:
Your car would originally had a 701m block . You sent us a 711m block. Those were originally used on crossflow pushrod engines like formula ford and ford Escorts. They can be made into twin cam engines easy enough and there’s nothing wrong with using them. They are very strong and it’s a common conversion. The left hand (Exhaust side) mounting bosses on the 711m block stick out about 1/2″ further than the original 701m block.
Ah, it appears the previous owner jammed the engine in and busted the mounts in the process. Luckily the right side fits correctly. We fit the half-shafts to help get everything centered. We will now modify the left side mount to work.
The front swaybar supports were ground down so we had them replaced and gave the swaybar itself a good sanding and painting.
We started color sanding the paint work. We will wait on the buff and polish until the body gets dropped onto the chassis. The finish is now matte and actually looks pretty cool…and so 2010!
New tires were sourced and mounted onto the wheels we had refinished. The rears are 185s vs front 175s. The wheels are the same size and we have a full size spare.
We started fitting some of the other components, like the fuel tank. The body in these internal areas still needs some grp patching and will get painted with trim black to make it look nice.
Our clients has requested AC so we’ve ordered a system that we need to test fit and choose the appropriate radiator. Ultimately we will have to develop a custom solution as no one makes a kit that fits this car.
We fit the new aluminum radiator and AC condenser to the car. This new rad is supposedly 35% more efficient than stock so that should help. We have plan to get the system to blow cold and hot air as requested. We will mock up the ducting and blower next.
We developed an HVAC concept that uses a new blower motor and AC system that we will install with a new plenum and hoses. The mock up cardboard above shows the idea. We believe this should result in excellent AC and improved heat and defroster performance from the stock system. Time to test and see if we have a good idea or not!
Doors are getting assembled and other bits like the lights. The headlight bucket on the passenger side needed some modification so that the AC condenser would clear.
We sprayed undercoating into the engine bay, wheel wells, interior and frunk to improve finish, reduce NVH and provide better stone chip protection.
We set the body onto the chassis for the first time in months so it was great to see the car truly ‘coming together’!
We had the Webers rebuilt as they were looking tired and dirty. Clean and functional now…
The Webers have been installed along with the exhaust. Engine lid is on. We have a new, more powerful alternator that we need to install – it will also take some custom fabrication. The electric AC system draws more power than the stock alternator puts out so we sourced an uprated one.
We have installed the electric AC compressor and now sorting the wiring and plumbing.
Testing the wiring while also identifying some of it. The headlight works – though it could use some polish.
The AC plumbing was completed and filled with refrigerant. The guys fired it up and she blew really, really cold. It gets hot in CA summers so AC will come in handy.
The AC controls will get retrofitted to the center console approximately this the area shown above. This will keep the fan and temp controls convenient. The two vents on either side of the dash can be opened or closed so that driver or passenger can modulate the temps. We needed to fit the new dash and fabricate new vent surrounds as the originals were warped.