4 or 5 speed - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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4 or 5 speed

Looking for an Europa 5 speed but would consider a 4 speed, is there a huge difference? I would like to be able to drive fro an hour or so at 70mph is this an issure with a 4 speed? I have driven many MGBs with no OD and it is a bit noisy with the higher RPMs but not a real issue, is it the same with 4 speed Lotus?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cooke View Post
Looking for an Europa 5 speed but would consider a 4 speed, is there a huge difference? I would like to be able to drive fro an hour or so at 70mph is this an issure with a 4 speed? I have driven many MGBs with no OD and it is a bit noisy with the higher RPMs but not a real issue, is it the same with 4 speed Lotus?
First, no matter which Europa, which engine, which transmission...it's all about condition.

But assuming you're comparing Europas in fine fettle, go with the 5 speed every time.

The trick with the 5 speed in the Europa is that it will eat the plastic gear in the trans that drives the speedo cable, sooner or later. And the gear is made of unobtanium. AND if you're lucky enough to find one, you'll pay a fortune for one...and it will get eaten as well. For my last I just tossed the OEM speedo and had a GPS replica made.

They also tend to seep at the rear input shaft.

Oh, and the first time you drive a 5 speed Europa you'll swear you don't know how to drive a manual transmission OR that the transmission is out of whack. Finding gears requires practice. Lots and lots of practice. Read reviews of the period. Brand new they were hard to drive. And there are so many joints and bushings that can wear in the linkage, it can get worse fast. And let's not talk about the shear pins...carry spares with you at all times.

Driveability of even a 5 speed in an Europa compares unfavorably with a Pinto. It's that bad at its best. BUT once you get the hang of it, you get through the gears fine.

Europas are such great cars when sorted. But they never stay sorted for very long. Expect to spend a weekend a month going over it to keep it going. There is a reason why so many are out there with less than 40K on the odo that aren't running and need a total resto. They weren't taken care of.

It's been awhile since I sold my last, so my recollection is shaky, but at 70 mph w/ a five speed it's revving higher than a modern car, and pretty buzzy. I can't imagine running a 4 speed on an interstate at 70 mph for very long. Wouldn't even try to do it in one of my S2's with the Renault engine and its four speed.

All that said, for shear driving fun, with an unlimited budget and better wrenching skills, I'd rather own a nice Europa Special with a 5 speed than any Elige. And I have owned several of both.
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Owned, loved, enjoyed, and now gone:
1969 Europa S2 Blue
1970 Europa S2 White
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1984 Turbo Esprit Calypso Red
2005 Elise Starlight Black
2005 Elise Saffron Yellow
2005 Elise Ardent Red
2006 Exige Graphite Grey
2007 Exige Canyon Red

Other:
1970 MGB GT
1970 Datsun 510
1984 Honda CRX Si
1984 Pontiac Fiero
2004 Chrysler Crossfire
2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe

Last edited by 4380r; 05-18-2019 at 03:58 AM.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 05:07 AM
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Well said 4380r

I started to go into some of this, would not have been as knowledgeable as you, and did not want to just come out and say what an achievement and experience it would be to drive an hour at 70 mph.

My favorite part of your post is when you described how it felt like I had never driven a manual every time I got in 3841r. It can be done, and done proficiently. And that will be very very rewarding. So glad I had this experience as part of my life.

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Anyone can make something complicated. It takes genius to make it simple. Einstein.
2011 Evora S Racing Heritage Edition (#3 of 4) (Now with alexsharkeyross)
2005 Elise LRG, track prepped ,
1974 Lotus Europa Special 3841R in JPS livery
2007 Toyota Tundra (about 10 cup holders), traded for 2015 Tundra TRD PRO
2007 Audi S4 DTM (RIP) 1980 Rover SD1 (new home) 2015 Honda Civic Si
2016 370Z Nismo
2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed 2019 Lexus LC500
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