A Spanish journeyman who drove in the 1977 Spanish and Austrian GPs in a private McLaren M23. He also drove a Williams FW07 in the 1980 Spanish GP.
After contesting the Shellsport championship in 1976 with a Lyncar, de Villota, a bank manager with Banco Iberico, gave up his day job and, with support from his former employers, went Grand Prix racing the following year with a McLaren M23.
However, he was out of his depth and settled for a return to the G8 series, where he could shine in a competitive car.
In 1978 the Aurora AFX F1 series was inaugurated, and de Villota became a staunch supporter of the championship during its short life.
Racing a Lotus 78, he took third place overall in 1979, before clinching the title in 1980 with his RAM Racing Williams FW07.
He drove a Williams FW07 in the 1980 Spanish GP (later stripped of its Championship status) where he distinguished himself by tripping up Laffite's Ligier and Reutemann's Williams in their dice for the lead.
After the Aurora AFX series folded, de Villota - having failed to gain an entry for his home Grand Prix in 1981 - turned briefly to sports cars, winning the Enna 6 Hours and the Flying Tigers 1000 at Brands in a Lola T600 with Guy Edwards, before returning to Formula 1 in 1982 for a completely fruitless spell in the works March run by his old colleagues at RAM.
However, Emilio was not done with racing, in the nineties he returned to the track and contested the Spanish Porsche Carerra Cup, clinching the championship in 1993, 1995 and 1996.