15k: Best of the Breed: 1972 Lotus Europa Big Valve Special

You’d have to live in a bubble to not notice the way prices have been heading on classic European sports cars, but you’d be shocked to see how inexpensive one of the better handling cars can be.  We’re (wait a minute…what site is this…oh yeah…)  I’m talking about the Lotus Europa, a smorgasbord of Colin Chapman philosophy, El Camino styling, and Ford power.  What could possibly go wrong?  Find this 1972 Lotus Europa Special offered for $15,000 in Seattle, WA via craigslist.

The Europa was built from 1966 to 1975 and in those years it did not go through a catastrophic death spiral metamorphosis like Ford’s Mustang — it actually did the opposite and got better with each year.  The Ford-Lotus Twin Cam engine was introduced late into Series 2 production and it only got better with the “Big Valve” version for Type 74 Europa that was introduced in 1972.

The mid mounted Ford-Lotus 1.6 liter inline-4 found in this Europa Special (the first few hundred versions were called the John Player Special and featured JPS style paint schemes to celebrate the 1972 F1 championship win for Lotus) is good for 126 horsepower and will scoot the Europa to 60 mph in about 6.6 seconds.

The interior is very low on amenities (no backup cam, GPS, or cup holders) but you do get a few gauges and a butt-on-the-ground feeling every time you drive it.