Lotus Europa and , errr…Barry Gibb’s trousers…

Cars People

The odd little 1960s sports car from Lotus was the quintessence of cool

We can’t think of another car that looks even vaguely like the Lotus Europa S1.

It’s kind of bread van-ish. It’s kind of otherworldly. And its look owes everything to a collision between Colin Chapman’s obsession with simplicity and lightness. The original drawings that became the Lotus Europa were, apparently, based on a design sketch by Ron Hickman. Hickman was the South African designer who not only drew many early Lotus cars, but who also designed the Black&Decker workmate!

The sketch was produced in response to Ford’s famous call for designs to take on Ferrari at Le Mans – and the car that was eventually commissioned of course became the GT40.

And while the snarling king of La Sarthe that Ford went to business with was the right car for the right time, the production Lotus was also a perfectly adapted species for a late sixties scene dominated by quirk and dash.

The car was launched at the end of 66 – and they produced less than 300 of the now very desirable S1s. These cars were super light and minimalist in their design, with fixed windows and seat positions, no door handles, internal trim and a spartan metal dash.

It came with a 1.5 litre Renault 16 engine arranged longitudinally with juiced up carburettors and a whole host of running gear trickery that made it, according to testers, a blast to chuck around.

But the thing that makes this car so interesting is the aesthetic. It is one of the shapes that encapsulates the look and feel of 1960s England – and the fact that it was George Best’s ride of choice for a while hammers its identity home.

And of course, there was Barry Gibb…

Images via Bonhams.