Rotary Buzz: Re-amemiya’s 20b Lotus Europa

Following on from Amemiya-san announcement last year that the NA-7 would be his final RX-7 based project, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering what on earth he would come up with for this year’s show. It’s become almost a tradition for RE-Amemiya to create some kind of crazy car for TAS, and for 2013 crazy doesn’t even begin to describe what everyone’s favorite punch-perm sporting, rotary-master brought to the show.

The fact that the car wasn’t even a Mazda no doubt raised a few eyebrows with the more die hard fans out there, but hey with Mazda preferring to concentrate on clean diesel engines right now, we can only take our hats off to Amemiya-san for trying something different. And amazingly it isn’t a Toyota 86! To find out more, a few days after the show, we headed to the RE-Amemiya’s shop in Tokyo. Mike will be bringing you a little tour of this small workshop, the place where all of Amemiya’s demo cars and race cars have been built.

But it was this tiny little car that we were all there to see, a strange hybrid interpretation of the Lotus Europa…

…sculpted and built in the way only Amemiya-san would know how.

While you would be forgiven to confuse the front end with an FD Super GReddy conversion running 911 headlights, there is no arguing that rump is pure Europa. Amemiya-san built upon the awkward rear styling by giving more defined fenders, round cut wheel arches rather than the horizontally shaped original items…

…as well as a redesigned engine cover. The car was put together to celebrate RE-Amemiya’s 35th anniversary and has got nothing to do with Ama-san’s Lotus Europa project from the 80’s; they are two different cars.

The only similarities is that they are both rotary powered, except while the old project ran a 13B…

…this Europa boasts a 20B engine swap.

Just like the NA-7 from last year, the Europa takes the naturally aspirated route, because simply put, with a curb weight of just over 700 kg there isn’t really a need for big power or torque. The 20B provides the sort of linear power delivery a lightweight car like this would benefit from…

…topped off with that unmistakable rotary sound. The most incredible thing about the Europa is that it was all put together in just over a month. Ama-san went to work on the chassis first, reinforcing the tubular frame, before moving onto making the 3-rotor fit just right.

The compact dimensions of the 20B meant that there was plenty of space to fit it as far centrally as possible within the Europa’s chassis, but the biggest hurdle was finding what gearbox to use. After weeks of discussion and research Ama-san and his crew decided to go with a 5-speed manual transmission from a BG Subaru Legacy. This ‘box was the perfect choice as they could use the front shaft output to drive the wheels and cap off the rear of the housing where, on a Legacy, drive is transferred towards the rear diff. What Ama-san had to do was fabricate an adaptor plate of the right thickness to line up the transmission correctly…

…as well as a little subframe at the rear to hold it all in place. Above you can also see where the gearbox has been closed off. Voilà a custom transaxle driveline!

One of the biggest concerns on any rotary engine is heat, especially on naturally aspirated configurations. This is because the intake ports are located directly on top of the exhaust ports requiring serious heat shielding to alleviate heat soak into the intake manifold as much as possible. Aside from thick metal baffling, Ama-san threw on copious amounts of gold heat shield…

…as well as making sure that the exhaust was wrapped all the way from the headers…

…to the main silencer, which again has been covered in that lovely gold stuff.

A secondary titanium silencer has even been added, because apparently a naturally aspirated 20B is quite loud! RE-Amemiya expect about 300 HP from the engine, but since the car hasn’t even been set-up yet it’s just a guesstimate at the moment.

The suspension was completely redone too, the stock Lotus arms joined by custom sway bars…

…and a set of adjustable Quantum dampers.

The result is something very special, an engine bay that you find yourself examining in its smallest detail.

Cooling is taken care of by a modern aluminium radiator, boasting a nice and thick core as well as two extractor fans. Considering how quickly it was all put together, the attention to detail is quite impressive, as you can see by the wet carbon piece above that hides the battery and other ancillaries.

With all the mechanical things taken care of, Ama-san was left with the body, an area of the car that he always shapes, moulds and paints himself. While Lotus fanatics out there will cringe to see their beloved car modified in such a way, there is no denying that the front end conversion works rather well. As Sean pointed out, the 911 lights ended up sitting in an almost cross-eyed position, sort of  resembling the front end of a Morgan Aero 8!

Like all RE-Amemiya cars the Europa rides on a set of Enkei wheels, gold RPF1s in 8Jx17″…

…shod with a nice and sticky set of Advan Neova AD08s, 215/40R17 front and rear.

Easily seen through the spokes are the AP Racing front calipers, a vintage set of 4-pots that back in the day used to be quite popular in rally racing. They are mated to grooved Endless discs and performance pads from the same brand. The rear end is stabilized with a set of RX-7 calipers and Endless rotors.

I found it interesting how Ama-san managed to successfully integrate modern day design cues like side intakes and an integrated front splitter into the Europa’s classic shape. A true bespoke creation.

The modern feel is carried over into the interior which has very little in common with the original car.

In fact I think it was only the door trim that had been left untouched!

Along with a custom carbon dashboard the rest of the interior has been kept very simple and functional with an obvious racing theme starting with the tiny Sparco steering wheel…

…and the digital dash display.

Seeing there is almost no visibility through the tiny rear window, a small Alpine LCD screen was added onto the center part of the dash, at the flick of a switch engaging…

…the rear mounted camera to give a better view of what’s happening behind.

The freshly carpeted cockpit is a very cozy place to be in, provided you can actually fit. Even if you do mange to wiggle yourself inside…

…you will still have to clear the narrow Bride buckets.

Only JDM-sized body types need apply.

So there you have it. Ama-san stuck to his word and came up with a very unique project to celebrate his 35-years as one of the most recognized figures in the rotary world. I really hope RE-Amemiya complete this car and take it to some track events as I’m sure I’m not the only one that wants to see this Europa in action!


Engine: 20B custom swap, custom engine mounts, K&N cone air filter, one off titanium exhaust headers, one off titanium exhaust system with twin silencers, RE-Amemiya ECU

Driveline: BG Subaru Legacy 5-speed transmission, custom transmission mounts & subframe, upgraded clutch

Suspension & Brakes: Adjustable Quantum dampers, RE-Amemiya custom sway bars, AP Racing 4-pot calipers, RX-7 rear calipers, Endless discs & pads all round

Wheels & Tires: Enkei RPF1 8Jx17″, Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 215/40R17

Exterior: RE-Amemiya one off body, 911 headlight conversion IPF LED taillights

Interior: Bride Low Max RE-Amemiya bucket seats, Sparco steering wheel, custom carbon dashboard, LCD dash/data logger, Alpine LCD for rear view camera


Tokyo Auto Salon 2013 coverage & features on Speedhunters

-Dino Dalle Carbonare



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This car is....WOW!
I would buy one right now, no question whatsoever.
Still, I would love a picture next to a Porsche 911. Just to see the big size difference.
Trully amazing car.


love those Quantum Dampers! Do a feature on the UK outfit! Larry Chen! please!


@greenroadster It would look ridiculously small!!  Here is an Ama-san's old Europa next to an FC for example:


Man oh man, I want to see this car in action so badly.  I love tiny monster cars.


I loved this car and lost my shit when i saw it at tas but the rpf1s look crap in gold on a red car. Granted they don't look so bad in natural light though


To be frank, I have sat inside an old Europa once and I'm kinda surprised how low the car actually sits! (well, all Lotus are actually) I wonder how did Ama-san managed to fit those Bride bucket seats inside the car, as the roofline is really low for any normal seats to actually fit in! (the car I sat in had some old-school race buckets in it. Not the most comfortable place to be, but then again it was suppose to be a race car)


This thing must fly. Would be a fun little rally car.


Wow, this thing is amazing, voted it best at TAS.
Didn't know what is was in the first few peak shots but as soon as you said it was a Europa I had to check out the local classifieds to see waht they were going for. Then this write up and pics thank you, love your work. 
 But then you go and spoil it for me and show the size of the interior (6'2" do you think I can fit??)


I absolutely fkn love it. Almost everything I'm looking for in a car.. :P
Its funny that to someone who loves the Europa in its original form; while there is almost NOTHING original about this car - I still love it.
The gold RPF1's look brilliant on it. The red paint and red seats are perfect. The NA 20B is perfect.
Nice pics too btw - the upper-rear Quarter shot is such a nice angle...


This is an awesome work of art, one could think it's a modern retro version of the Europa designed by Lotus. I was looking forward to this feature. The rear end and the engine bay are my favorite parts.


This car is an abomination! Completely ruined a classic car


Great build ... This reminds me of my first Europa and 13B powered Super 7...
Awesome craftsmanship..


@Dadog Said no one.


Seems like a complete waste of a nice Europa to me.


Gorgeous, a Brilliant Balance, between, seeing it still as an original Europa Retro looks wise,but complemented, via modern styling, seemingly blended in/works !.
I would have one, over a Banks Europa now, maybe, particularly the front end !.


For those that are interested in a Lotus Europa S1 restoration, you can find mine here. Earliest Lotus Europa in existance!


This is really awesome... Can Maiham Media make a video of this piece of art?


@Muzaffar Musa The bolsters of the seats actually hit the side windows. They were a tight squeeze for sure and honestly probably not the best choice.  I know Bride does have some cool vintage racing seats, those would have been a far better choice IMO


@2bAUS  With different seats maybe....will be tight in there though....


@FunctionFirst  @Dadog LOL


Well it's obviously not for everyone that's for sure


@LouisSoon Well keep in mind it isn't running quite yet. Whenever it does however, I also vote Luke should be doing a video of it!


@SleursMotorsport Great stuff!


i love the europa. i'd like this more if it didn't have 911 headlamps tho (seriously japan why do you put them on everything) but it's nice either way


ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside


Super cool car! Clean, quirky, fast and (hopefully) functional! I'd love to cram myself in that little cockpit and try it out!


Everytime I see Lotuses (Loti?) with these amazing powertrain swaps,  I end up wanting to see a Honda K series or the C30A under the hood of these cars!


@speedhunters_dino I can definitely appreciate all of his hard work on it, and if he enjoys it, then that's great. But I personally don't like it.


@SaudQureshi There is a k20a Elise out there somewhere, actually.


This car here has one really important thing about - you can't possibly mistaken it with any car around.. It's crazy, unique and the engine bay is swe-e-et.
Grotesque, yes..


Is this for sale?


Glad to see some more Lotus content on SH, Dino. This is a fantastic build, and has really sparked my interest in the Europa. I was never really fond of it, but the body modifications Amemiya-san has done really transform it tastefully while maintaining the basic shape. Still polarizing, but modernly so.
Now, about that Outer Plus feature...?!?!


@SaudQureshi hehe... ;)


@kokotorrio Totally agree!


@Chris Nuggets That's in the pipework too...but first there is a little red Elise S I need to review ;)


@KeithHoerling Like most of their demo cars I would assume so...


@SaudQureshi Saw a couple at the Lotus Day last year


@FunctionFirst Colin chapman would be turning in his grave!!


@speedhunters_dino  @LouisSoon
 Agree, great feature Dino and I would also love to see some video of this thing in action when it's finished. Interesting build, it looks to have been carefully thought out and is very well presented. I suspect there would be a lot more "Oh my God what have they done to that poor, beautiful classic Lotus"-type comments if Amemiya dropped a 20B into a Lotus 14 Elite or a Lotus 26 Elan, rather than a Europa (which is perhaps less well-loved by the pipe-smoking, beard-growing British classic car aficianado set).
That 3-point exhaust pipe exit is a nice touch - it reminds me of the tail-lights on a Mk1 Lotus Ford Cortina. I assume that this is by design rather than by accident!


Incredible car and something totally unique. Really beautiful. Not the highest power figure in the world, but clearly that wasn't the purpose of the build. Any idea on the weight with fuel etc Dino? 
Amemiya has been at it for so long. Good to see he is still churning out some amazing creations.


I want to see this in action on the Wangan!


@speedhunters_dino Any chance of a feature on one of the well-done ones?


Yes to more Lotus tuning.


@DJJAW11 It looks good but it even got more potensial. The front could slope down a bit for instance. I hope they continue to develop it.


@Dadog  @FunctionFirst He would not. The car got a lighter engine (probably) and stronger engine and improved handling. Hes saluting from hes grave.


The wheels are awesome and loving the 20b swap!


This thing is beautiful! The execution of everything is on point.


I loved this car at the show this year.
Thought the Japanese Katakana of "Rotus Europa" might have been on purpose in this context given the 20B power, but the Japanese have great difficulty pronouncing "L" indeed there is no symbol for it in Japanese.
Coolest car in the show for me. Great pics as always Dino!


I loved this car at the show this year.
Thought the Japanese Katakana of "Rotus Europa" might have been on purpose in this context given the 20B power, but the Japanese have great difficulty pronouncing "L" indeed there is no symbol for it in Japanese.
Coolest car in the show for me. Great pics as always Dino!


I loved this car at the show this year.
Thought the Japanese Katakana of "Rotus Europa" might have been on purpose in this context given the 20B power, but the Japanese have great difficulty pronouncing "L" indeed there is no symbol for it in Japanese.
Coolest car in the show for me. Great pics as always Dino!


I loved this car at the show this year.
Thought the Japanese Katakana of "Rotus Europa" might have been on purpose in this context given the 20B power, but the Japanese have great difficulty pronouncing "L" indeed there is no symbol for it in Japanese.
Coolest car in the show for me. Great pics as always Dino!


I loved this car at the show this year.
Thought the Japanese Katakana of "Rotus Europa" might have been on purpose in this context given the 20B power, but the Japanese have great difficulty pronouncing "L" indeed there is no symbol for it in Japanese.
Coolest car in the show for me. Great pics as always Dino!


@SaudQureshi  @speedhunters_dino Search Speedhunters and you shall find a turbo audi powered carbon body Elise.


this car is so awesome.  and all those gold!  definitely went all-out on this car.


It's lovely. Thank you. Although i think the Banks Type 62 Europa has the edge on it looks-wise (and is clearly somewhat more hardcore from an engineering POV). Having said that the Porsche headlamps are a big improvement over those weird square things the Banks wears...
But Mr DC, you don't say much about the chassis... is it a genuine Lotus item or a custom replica? How modified? And the aero. Those low level rear wings look interesting... how functional are they?


I'm still not a fan of the 911-style headlights.


I think the dash vents are pulled from a DC5 Integra.




@HLB Also very similar to Mazda2/Demio items.


I love every single thing about this creation!  Great feature, this is the car of the year already! I wouldn't have imagined the awkward little Europa from Lotus could have been curved like this with some modern style and RE-style touches to make it such a beauty. Totally the coolest car I have seen in a long time.


These cars and early Elans are lethal. Many people have been killed in these due to the backbone chassis. Essentially you sit on fiberglass only - the pan/rockers/doors. Hit a tree or receive any side impact and the crushable structure is your body.
My father sold his Elan in the early 70's to a guy who drove it down country home and never arrived.


The fact it was done in a little over a month is jaw dropping.  Curious how much heat is shaved off from the gold wrap....


@Dadog how do you make an abomination out of a car that very rarely ran after 20 k. Miles. This car is the ultimate version of a europa. The perfected embodiment of my dream car. Amazing and beautiful.
still think a spyder chassis mite have been easier and better though. This chassis has not been totally described as of yet.


@speedhunters_dino @2bAUS Very tight in those. The Bride low max was designed for a 185 lb man max. I way 225 and i don't fit in those seats. They were probably picked because they look and work great and are very very small. Thus fit easily without having to modify or order something else on a quick 30 day build.


Me wants that gold! I wants it! I needs it! My precious. hehe! :D Cool car!


My brother's 73 Europa was exported to Japan a few years back... makes me wonder if it now looks like this. Great car, and a worthwhile update of a classic (but little known and under rated) British classic.


The photo of the open door totally looks like a toy car...


Ruined it.


Does anyone know what the door mirrors are from, I love them!


kamenkachev Only after reading this, I now see it that way. You're right. It does look like a toy.


Well I hate the rear mods, but this looks fairly clean. Bout time some one started using lotuses for what they were meant for. I will never know for sure, but I think Colin Chapman would've approved. @kjkjkjkj, your comment is highly subjective and obviously comes from an absurd purist mentality.


Back in the late 1970's, I had a '71 Europa with the R16, and this baby here is a great update.  Knew a friend of a friend at the same time that dropped a RX-3 12A into his Europa and it was way quicker than mine.  I later got a 1980 RX-7 GS, so this here is pretty much a the perfect combination...


izzy_ortiz No different to many  fibreglass cars. The later Lotus cars: Elite, Excel,, Esprit ALL use the same type of body/chassis and ALL passed the worlwide crash requirements!

Where steel absorbs energy,fibreglass dissipates it. 
You have to be doing something really stupid to get killed in one.
 It is untrue to say 'many people have been killed in them due to the backbone chassis'; there is no documentary evidence to support that statement.  Very many people have, and continue to drive them safely.

The Reliant Scimitar GTE also fibreglass,on a platform chassis, is one of the safest cars in history - not a single recorded death in one!


This car looks very, very much like a heavily modified Banks Europa Type 62S - certainly the body and chassis anyway. I think the mods have (on the whole) improved the car greatly - changing the classic shape into something more 'retro modern' with some interesting aero work. I love the engineering that went into that powertrain too - I actually think the rotary engine quite suits the whole ethos of Lotus - small, lightweight, high output. It's a stunning vehicle.