Bob & Janet Tremble: Wheels Readers
Occupation: Happily retired
The Car: 1970 Lotus Europa S2
Restoring our car was truly a labour of love.
In the spring of 1970, while I was studying engineering at Ryerson, and Janet, my sweetheart since grade 10, was completing teachers college in Peterborough, she decided June 6 would be a good time to get married. I saw a tremendous opportunity to make our wedding special and memorable. What better way than to rent an exotic honeymoon car?
Short of funds during the school year, my entertainment was often limited to ogling exotic beauties in the Toronto showroom of British United Automobiles, where a bright yellow Lotus Europa S2 caught my attention.
The sales staff got to know me by name and didn’t hesitate when asked if I could rent the car for our honeymoon. Getting married took on a whole new dimension as my roommate and volunteer wedding photographer, Dave Lawrence, and I counted down the days until we got “THE CAR.”
We spent our honeymoon night in Belleville, then toured northern Ontario, staying in motels. Loving the Lotus experience so much, we bought a 1969 S1 two years later and learned the hard way that a Europa was not a winter car. It was replaced by a brand new Austin Mini from British United.
Over the years, Janet and I completed more than a dozen ground-up restorations of cool cars; Jaguars (2), BMW (2), Corvette (2), Sunbeam Alpine (2), a Mercedes Benz, Range Rover, and Cadillac, among a handful of daily drivers.
In 2008, I was forced to retire from my flying career as a helicopter pilot due to kidney failure, which would ultimately require a transplant. Janet volunteered and qualified to be my donor. By 2013, the time had come, and that September, I received the new kidney from my soul mate. I immediately felt my energy returning, albeit slowly.
By June of 2016, we felt ready for one last restoration and happened upon a TV show with Jay Leno sponsoring a Lotus Europa rebuild. We looked at each other, knowing we had made our decision.
In our global online search, we considered all candidates, except basket cases and completely restored cars, finding nothing to fit our needs. A week later, one popped up on AutoTrader in Victoria, B.C., matching our criteria; a 1970 S2 like our honeymoon car, but blue, and originally sold in Toronto by British United.
Randy Mains, a flying colleague in Victoria, sent us photos for a preliminary assessment. We boarded a flight west, sealing the deal on arrival. While it took eight days for the car to get to Toronto by rail, we ticked off one of Janet’s bucket list items, a cruise to Alaska that kept me occupied until we got “THE CAR.”
In November, we delivered the engine to Michel Guégan, of Alpine-America, in Montreal, the only North American shop specializing in our 1565 cc Renault Gordini motor.
Janet and I got busy that winter reproducing the crumbling teak dash, building a new wiring harness, overhauling brake cylinders and calipers, making templates and cutting new carpeting, hunting for parts, and co-ordinating the efforts of a team of pros in the Midland-Penetanguishene area where we live.
Larry O’Rourke, of O’Rourke Boat Repair, did the structural fibreglass work, prep and paint by the team at Body Line Collision, cracked and broken plastic trims made like new by Robbie, of Fibrenew, chassis modifications; redesigning and fabricating new rear hubs and bearings, and a lot of welding done by Peter Lindemann, of Traditional Turn & Weld. My brother, Steve, of Superior Textiles, made and installed new upholstery.
In July 2017, we took the car to Montreal on a trailer, removed and overhauled the transaxle, mating it to the rebuilt engine, and eagerly awaited our first drive in eight months. Since then, we’ve participated in the Lotus Club of Canada’s “Fall Run” and attended show and shines with our Georgian Bay British Car Club in Collingwood.
Driving this car is as close as you can get to the experience of a genuine race car, akin to driving a go-kart in terms of handling and sensation of speed. We’re itching to get it out of winter storage to enjoy the Niagara Region’s spring blossoms and the winding Muskoka back roads over the summer and fall.
On June 6, our wedding anniversary, we will continue our 48-year love affair with a road trip in our honeymoon car, as we did all those years ago.
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