The Lotus Europa was a low, mid-engined, fiberglass-bodied sports coupe produced between 1969 an 1974. It was originally intended to be a Lotus/Ford GT racing project, although Ford pulled out late in the day, and the car was released as a Lotus. Early models were powered by Renault engines, but later examples had Ford Cosworth motors. The Europa was quite expensive and, as a result, only around 9000 were sold. However, it was extremely popular in toy form, with models produced by Matchbox, Dinky, corgi, Diapet and many others.
The Matchbox version was first painted a dark metallic blue, with an off-white interior, clear windscreen and an unpainted metal base. It featured opening doors and a towing hook, features extremely popular with children. Early models featured narrow Super wheels and squared wheel arches, while later models had the base altered to accommodate the wider wheels, and the body casting was modified so as to have larger, rounder wheels arches. In 1971, the colour scheme was changed to what many collectors call ‘metallic pink’, which is more of a lustrous fuchsia shade.
It was revived in 1977 in a new colour scheme for the Japanese series. It was painted black with tampo-printed gold coach lining, representing a limited edition JPS sponsored car.
In the late 1980s, the Europa casting was revived again for inclusion in the el-cheapo ‘Super GT’ range, although this time without the opening doors or interior.