Europa Economy

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139

Sir,

I found your comments in the May issue concerning Fiat and the 60 m.p.g./50 m.p.h. target of interest. From the figures quoted for a Fiat 126 of 63.4 m.p.g. and 27.34 m.p.h., I would have thought that the target may not be within the capability of this car, but perhaps the alternative candidate can be found at a different extreme of the motoring spectrum—a Lotus Europa S2 for example?

My own well-used model regularly averages over 40 m.p.g. and over one journey of 437 miles of mixed driving averaged 53.3 m.p.g. and over 47 m.p.h. (during the 50 m.p.h. limit, I should add). Whilst this is clearly still not good enough, this is in a standard car with 50,000 miles behind it that has never been professionally tuned from new, so there may well be room for improvement. It may be significant that my Europa has the 1565 c.c. Renault 16 engine with emission control to Californian requirements for 1971, and I should also add that the accuracy of my figures above are probably only within 5% or so.

My experience of this car over 3.1/2 years from assembling it from a kit may also be of interest although, of course, this method of tax evasion is no longer available. Incidentally, D.S.J.’s enthusiastic report of a trip to Sicily in a Europa influenced my original decision significantly!

The handling is, of course, fairly unique, whilst performance is not so remarkable. The seats and driving position are very comfortable and the ride reasonable, if a shade “knobbly”. Visibility is excellent forwards and something that one gets used to backwards, and whilst the controls are generally good, the gear-change does improve with use.

Compared with some reports the reliability has been fairly good with three rear damper units, two exhaust systems, a battery and four rear brake shoes falling into the “expected” category. An alternator, a rear hub bearing and a broken clutch cable were less expected. Incidentally, driving onto and off the ferry from Morocco to Spain without a clutch is an interesting exercise!

The front disc pads are still original and the Dunlop SP Sport tyres last about 35,000 miles per set of four, although the wet-weather grip sometimes causes unexpected excitement, adding to that caused by excessive water leaks around screen and doors.

Overall running costs have averaged about 3p a mile, doing all maintenance myself, but allowing for depreciation, insurance, loss of interest, etc.

In conclusion, a motoring experience not to be missed, and not necessarily as expensive or impractical as is widely believed.

Little Baddow M. C. Pinches