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Tamiya 1/24 scale Lotus Europa Special

Kit: No. 24212
Scale: 1/24
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922.
Price: $27
Comments: Injection molded, 115 parts (13 photoetched, 8 vinyl), decals.
Pros: Excellent molding, beautiful tires, sharp decals, easy assembly.
Cons: Front suspension too loose, some chrome parts need to be toned down for proper appearance.
Searching for a replacement for the rudimentary Lotus Seven, Colin Chapman looked at Ford's GT40 for inspiration for his closed car - the mid-engined Lotus Europa. Unveiled in 1966 with an anemic Renault four-cylinder, single-overhead-cam engine, the Europa was improved with a dual-overhead-cam engine and dubbed the Series 2 Twin Cam Special in 1972. Its lightweight fiber glass body, very low center of gravity, and race-bred chassis, suspension, and transmission produced a winner on and off the track.

Tamiya brings us a 1/24 scale rendition of a 1972 Lotus Europa Special. The kit's 94 parts are molded in black, white, clear, and chromed styrene plastic. Also contained are four excellent rubber tires, crisp decals, and chrome self-stick metal transfers. Tamiya's 21-step instructions provide clear pictograms, giving smooth direction for an easy build.

I went immediately to step 16 - I wanted to paint the body and set it aside to cure while I worked on the rest of the model. The Europa had a one-piece fiber glass body, so I filled the joint line between the main body and the lower nose. A few mold-parting seams also will have to be removed.

I stripped the chrome plating from the wheels, carburetors, fuel tanks, alternator, and outside mirrors. The wheels and mirrors were brushed aluminum; the alternator, fuel tanks, and carbs were natural aluminum.

Back to step 1, construction went smoothly. The upper and lower A-arms in the front suspension are a little loose, letting the front brake/spindle assemblies fall out. I glued them in place, which eliminates the possibility of turning the front wheels. The lower chassis plate (B20) needs to be trimmed as it is a tight fit.

The lower brake servo (B2) doesn't fit well because it collides with one of the exhaust header pipes. The engine compartment looks good when done, but you may want to add wiring and plumbing detail. The interior fits together well and is as Spartan as that of the real car.

I would have liked to see wood-grain decals for the dash (as Tamiya provided in the Jaguar Mk.2 kit). The instrument dials are sharp enough to be easily read even for my old eyes. The steering wheel column (B7) has a mold ejector-pin mark on top, which should be removed. The remaining assembly went along without a hitch.

I chose the John Player Special-style paint scheme of black-with-gold pin stripe. I used Gunze Sangyo Gloss Black, which was brittle and subject to chipping. After trimming excess film, I devoted a couple of nights' work to applying the pin-stripe decals; I wanted to avoid moving them after they were in place. No setting solution is required, just a lot of patience. I used Bare-Metal Foil on the window frames instead of silver paint. Once all was dry, I applied a coat of Future to seal with a nice gloss finish, but after a few days, the Future cracked; perhaps the underlying paint had not fully cured. You can leave the engine lid open (you supply the prop) to view the tight compartment.

The shape and dimension look good compared with photos in Chris Harvey's Lotus: The Elite, Elan, Europa, and John Bolster's The Lotus Elan and Europa. I put about 20 hours into building this wonderful car. An intermediate builder could handle it, but an expert can improve the final result by adding detail. This is a great addition to my British Sports car collection.

- Ross Whitaker


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