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.