Friday, May 11, 2012
Car Of The Day: May 11, 2012
Today's car of the day is Tomica's 1975 Lotus Europa.
The Lotus Europa is a two door mid-engined GT coupé built by Lotus Cars from 1966 to 1975. In 2006 Lotus began production of a totally new, Lotus Elise-derived design, a mid-engined GT coupé named Europa S.
The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman's minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The Europa was based on a prototype built to compete for Henry Ford II's contract to build a Le Mans race car in the early 1960s.
The Europa was designed and built to be an embodiment of Chapman's oft-stated philosophy of automotive design: "Simplify, then add lightness."
The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman's thinking. The rear suspension was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman's earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut's use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car's handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet (hood), and boot (trunk), the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass.
In all, Lotus built about 9,300 Europas.
For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Lotus Europa
A great looking model from Tomica.
The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman's aerodynamic design (with a still respectable today drag coefficient of Cd 0.29) as the basis for the Europa production model; originally intended to succeed the ageless Lotus 7. Because VW owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany, cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa.
The Europa S2, or Type 54, was introduced in April 1968. It used the same Renault engine as the Type 46, but offered a number of refinements, including electric windows, fully adjustable seats, a new interior, and a polished wooden fascia for the dashboard. Per request of the automotive insurance industry, Lotus switched to bolt fasteners (instead of resin bonding) to attach body to frame. A small number of Type 54s were modified to be "federalized", that is, made suitable for export to the United States. The Federal Type 54 was slightly modified. They were actually recalled because of the headlamps being too low (a "bug eye" headlamp raiser was to be installed). The Federal 54 had the low fenders of the European 54, but larger engine of the type 65. Perhaps 200 of these were made.
In 1969-70, the Type 65 (also known as S2 Federal) was born specifically for export to the US, with additional changes to the body, chassis, suspension and the powerplant to better comply with U.S. D.O.T. standards. Production of the 54 continued for cars supplied to the rest of the world. Among the changes, the engine was a slightly modified emission controlled Renault 16TL 1565 cc engine producing 80 hp rather than the 1470 cc engine of the Type 54. The front suspension was changed to make the front end of the car taller along with taller front fenders to raise the headlamps. Road&Track Magazine tested the Federal S2 and recorded 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds with a top speed of 116 mph (187 km/h). 3,615 S2s were produced.