Used buyer's guide: Lotus Europa

20 Nov, 2012 11:00am Richard Dredge

The Vauxhall-engined Lotus Europa is great fun... if you can find one


Despite its exotic looks, the Europa is affordable to buy and run, thanks to its relatively small engine. Only 458 were built, so these are rare cars: if you want one, you’ll have to look hard. Your best bet is join a forum or owners’ club and get to know the cars and people, as many Europas – particularly the best ones – change hands without being advertised publicly. Europa ownership demands compromises that Porsche fans wouldn’t put up with, but if you want something different that’s great to drive, this car’s ideal.

How much?

There aren’t many Europas for sale at any one time, so you’ll have to wait and be prepared to travel to get the right car. We found an 85,000-mile example available for £15,450, but most cars haven’t covered more than 50,000 miles and many have yet to reach even the 20,000-mile mark. For these lower-mileage Europas, you’ll pay closer to £20,000 from a dealer.

The SE is the most desirable model. Expect to pay around £24,000 for something worth having. The very best cars still change hands for up to £28,000, but for that money it’ll need to be in truly superb condition and have covered very few miles.

Running costs

Model Insurance group Fuel economy CO2 emissions Annual road tax
Europa 46 30mpg 220g/km £270
Europa S 46 30mpg 220g/km £270
Europa SE 47 29mpg 229g/km £460

The Europa needs to be serviced every 9,000 miles or 12 months. There are 20 UK dealers, eight of which are service outlets only. There are also lots of independent specialists, which helps improve nationwide coverage.

At Lotus Silverstone, in Northants, a basic service will cost £351, with larger check-ups pegged at £420-£450. The really big one is the fourth service: it’s priced at £952, which includes the fitment of a new cambelt.

If you only need to replace the belt, that’ll be £495. Fresh brake fluid is needed every two years, at a cost of £67, while new coolant and air-con gas are required every four years, for £165 and £65 respectively.