Race Track and Museum Classics: Lotus Europa–Visiting America I see Europa


Right now, I feel like a somewhat less manic Neal Cassady, because I’ve driven perhaps 2000 miles in less than a week and I can’t sleep.  Coming to a dead stop after so much moving shocks the system; I could never be a truck driver although I’d be the best–go, go, go.  Can you tell I’ve been reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test? Perhaps meaningfully, perhaps not, I saw (heard?) this Day-Glo Orange Lotus Europa for sale last weekend.  It was not to be the last.


The Breadvan.  For so many years, I’ve looked at the Europa as a lapse in judgment, a massive, what-the-heck? screwup.  How could the same company that brought you the Elite bring you this bilevel misjoined at the middle misadventure?  Then I saw this one for sale at Waterford Hills (a racetrack) and I finally got it, had an awakening; it stared me in the face and shook me by the collar and screamed at my eyeballs and realigned my mojo.


And it was for sale, too, just one day after I came perilously close to bidding on one of my dreamboats at an estate auction, a ’59 Triumph TR3.  Whereas the TR is old school England, all buttoned up, bulldoggy, proper, the Europa is all molten lava ’70s disco nutjob crazy…and $14,500, not super cheap but also a seemingly good deal for a nice looking Lotus.  I, however, know next to nothing about them, and I’m not jumping in the Europa pool with all these hangups, not yet.  I’m not crazy.


I do know that Lotus suffered from insufferable braggadocio, which is a little uptight; sticking to hierarchical dogma is not a genuine experience, because you’re letting the other guy into your movie.  If it helps you sell cars, however, keep on trucking, Colin Chapman, keep on lightening things up and stuff.


Oh, but that posterior is so polarizing.  And it’s so small, claustrophobia on wheels, a screaming, glued to the road, fiberglass chunk of 18-wheeler bait–the positive side?  You wouldn’t see what hit you.  It’s just you and the road, with lots of bathroom breaks to stretch because bones don’t go that way, man.  Part of living your own Europa movie, however, is awakening the others, melting their inhibitions and prejudices.  With no visibility, how would you know it’s working?  In a perfect world, there’s no judgment here; that rearend is dynamite, but how would you know if anybody’s following your trip?  You just can’t see ’em!


One picture is not worth a thousand words, because the Europa’s an enigma; it wears its style as a disguise; it doesn’t look so small, but it’s a man in a redwood forest in this land of the free; an Escalade could wear this as a hat.  It would make a cute little Christmas present, all tied up in a little hatbox–here’s your Europa, sweetie!


Speaking of sweeties, my wife and I found ourselves at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville a few days later, a mind-blowing place for cognoscenti and dilettantes alike, and here is this subdued Europa, looking for all the world like Jimmy Clark rose from the Scottish hillside for a quick spin down Broadway, all British Racing Green-like and striped and Minilited and sitting on some hardwood floor.  It’s like we were all in synch screaming through space on this weird old orb.


Two Europas in a week was too much; I had to step back, stop to think, realign.  I have enough Curbside fodder to last a year based on the last two months, but it’s going to take time to process, and I have to come down from this road high I’m on, sleep a few winks, reconsider my priorities, evaluate if I’m living an out front life as a car guy. Maybe next week, after a few winks, I’ll be back to myself.  Or maybe this is only the beginning.