Europa Euphoria, Part 24

I finally got the new dash and new crash pad in place and screwed into place. There are several stainless steel screws that hold the wood dash in place along the front. Unlike an Elan where the dash is just bolted up to the fiberglass body, the Europa dash becomes a part of the structure. There are little metal brackets on the underside that you bolt to and there is a two piece padded metal strip that runs across the whole front of the dash. When you are done, the whole thing is actually quite rigid. The only thing that holds in the crash pad however is the two plastic blower vents. Each held in place with 4 long self tapping screws. The vents on this car had kind of curled a bit from years of baking in the sun. They reminded me of little goofy toys I used to make with my toy vacuum-form machine back in the 60’s. Not real sturdy. So before I ran the long screws through the vents and through the crash pad into the top of the fiberglass, I filled the vents full of Bondo to give them a little strength. I also gave them a little spritz of special black vinyl, rattle-can paint. The wonders of a rattle can restoration. When I was all done, it finally looked real good and felt real solid. It was one of those moments where you go bring the wife into the garage and go “looky what I did” and she will say: “Oh, you are such a manly man!” Yeah right!

There are lots more parts to a Europa than there are in an Elan. Lot’s of little thingies that take time staring at the manual and parts book to try and figure out what they are and where they fit into the scheme of things. Bit by bit I continued emptying the boxes. I took the sun faded seat belts and soaked them in a 5 gallon bucket of hot water with black Rit dye. They turned out nice but once again Sue was not pleased with the mess I had made in “her” laundry room. I call it a slop sink. She seems to think it’s a laundry tub. Go figure.

One day in the garage as I pulled the car cover off the front of the Europa I heard a clink type noise. More accurately it was a “Crink” noise because it turned out to be the cheap Chinese Lotus nose badge breaking off. As I looked around on the front end I noticed that where the nose badge was supposed to be, was now only a couple screw heads sticking out. The el-cheapo nose badge that I had got off of ebay had snapped off clean. The tiny little screws may have just been soldered instead of welded. I haven’t decided yet if I am just going to just glue the badge back in place or put a real nice original badge in it’s place. I have one, but do I want to part with it?

Routing the parking brake cable and oil pressure line up through the chassis tunnel and up through the holes in the body was a real chore. I read lots of stories on the internet on how everyone else had similar problems, so I didn’t feel too bad. But ultimately my problem was that I was trying to fit the oil line up through the wrong hole. While discussing my stuckness with Rich Cwik one evening, it occurred to me that there must be another hole and sure enough, there was a hole under the dash that I had not seen and it was just a matter of cutting out the jute between the body and the chassis and fishing a coat hanger through the new found hole. More better.

I decided that although I was doing a stock restoration, I didn’t want the seats redone with the stock black vinyl. Europas get real hot in the summer with the large front windshield area, so when I took the seats over to K&N’s, we decided to do a combination of black vinyl on the sides, but black and dark gray cloth in the center. It should look real nice. I had done a similar scheme only in red to my original Elan back in 1988. Ken pulled the old vinyl and padding off and I sandblasted the frames and coated them with Rustoleum. I was surprised to find that the Europa seat frames are made out of the same metal used on the chassis. With the vinyl and padding gone, they are still in the basic shape of the seat. Take a look at the pictures. Not what I expected. The seat rails were very, very bad so I did some trading with Paul for some rails he had leftover from his Europa project and I spent some more time at his sandblasting cabinet, removing many years of crusty rust. His were in good shape. Mine had been quite religious in that they were very holy.

Next – Europa Euphoria, Part 25

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