Spencer Canon is the owner of two classic Lotus Europas, one of which is living its best life
This 1969 Lotus Europa lives a good life: a loving owner, regular maintenance, and frequent drives through the Californian mountains. Spencer Canon owns two Europas, one for the road and the track, and it’s the former that has become the star of a recent YouTube video.
Canon had his competition Europa first, which he races in California, and didn’t intend to buy another, but when the road-going one turned up he just couldn’t resist. It was imported into the United States by its previous owner, and when Canon got his hands on it it was less than halfway to being in a roadworthy state.
More on Lotus...
- How the Lotus Esprit became a James Bond car
- Lotus marks 70th anniversary with largest ever gathering
- Classic Lotuses in our classifieds
It was in good enough shape to be restored though, and Canon knew the worth of the Type 54 model. The car’s vibrant orange, a colour Canon hadn’t previously associated with automobiles, made it all the more a compelling buy.
Since buying the Europa he’s done all the work on the car himself, and is now a specialist on the vehicle. Within a few weeks of ownership he had fitted a fully working engine, and one of the only details left unfinished on the car is finishing the importing and registration documents.
He uses a simple floor jack and tools to get in and around the car, and for the interior he’s used a sewing machine. Staying loyal to the original interior specification hasn’t topped Canon’s priorities, and with bits being replaced due to age, he’s created a new interior with his recently-found sewing skills and installed a smaller steering wheel to assist getting in and out of the car.
‘I’m not a great sewer but I taught myself how to use a machine and I do what I can to create pieces that look good on the car and reflect the design that would’ve fit at the time. I just wanted to make an interior that looked nice and was comfortable’ Canon said.
Despite extensive experience of his race car, Canon had little understanding of how the road-going equivalent should feel. ‘The suspension isn’t nearly as tight as I thought. [It’s a] pretty smooth ride, cruises pretty well and decent body lean around corners,’ he said.
Due to the car’s lightness its still quick, despite its relatively small straight-four engine, and its compactness actually makes it difficult to work on. Canon describes a ‘Lotus position’ (don't snigger) in which he has to contort his body to reach certain parts. In summary, there’s ‘definitely easier cars to work on, [the Lotus] is pretty tight to work in’. What brings the most frustration is the electrics, which Canon plans to update.
Canon describes the car as a rolling restoration, and having existed for almost 50 years, he wants it to be on the road for another 50. There’s a connection between the car and its current driver.
‘I have developed a mechanical sympathy where I can start to detect if there might be issues long before they crop up. I know what every little rattle or smell is.