In 1966 Lotus introduced the Lotus Europa known as Type 46 which was apparently born out of Colin Chapman’s attempt to win the Ford contract to build Ford’s Le Mans challenger which went to Lola and eventually became known as the GT40.
The Europa came with a mid mounted Renault engine and gearbox, of the type usually found in the Renault 16, albeit boosted from 52 hp to 82 hp mounted on a steel back bone chassis with a fiberglass body bonded to the chassis.
A racing version of the Europa, Type 47 was also built which was intended to replace the Lotus 7, which it never did. In April 1968 Lotus introduced the Europa S2 which used the same running gear and chassis as the original but featured electric window’s, fully adjustable seats, polished wood facia and the body was now secured to the chassis by bolts in place of the resin bonding, this package of refinements were sufficient for Lotus to give the Europa S2 a new internal Type number 54.
The 1969 Europa S2 seen here fetched over £16,000 at the recent Silverstone Auction held at Race Retro. Interestingly this car was advertised as a Black Badge Car, which romantics would have you believe was something to do with a myth allegedly marking the death of Jim Clark in 1968 when in fact the truth is considerably more mundane.
According to the late Graham Arnold Lotus Marketing Director in 1968 the Black Badge Elan’s and Europa’s came about because Graham arranged for the production of a batch of black ‘Lotus’ badges because he ‘thought’ they would look classier and would not clash like the yellow and green ‘Lotus’ badges did with the red white and gold ‘Gold Leaf‘ colours carried by many road going Lotus models at the time. Colin Chapman did not approve of the new badges and vetoed their use. Subsequently some of these badges however did find their way on to various cars not least the press fleet for which Mr Arnold was responsible, causing him to attract the ire from Mr Chapman who thought Mr Arnold had fitted the black badges in contradiction to Mr Chapman’s wishes.
Subsequently replica black badges have found their way on to owners cars often as a mark of respect to Jim Clark but these badges were never sanctioned officially and should not attract any kind of premium if fitted.
Thanks for joining me on this “Black Badge Myth” edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !