Page 1 of 1 When Eric Broadley announced that a customer was interested to run Lolas in the 1962 Formula 1 championship many were surprised. Established only a few years earlier, Lola's exploits into single seaters had been limited to the modest Formula Junior class only. The front-engined Mk2 and mid-engined Mk3 were solid performers, but not able to really challenge Lotus' dominance. The Mk4 Formula 1 car was commissioned by Reg Parnell, a successful racer in the early 1950s and later even more successful as manager of the Aston Martin sports car effort. His team was backed by financial company Yeoman Credit, which by the time the first Lolas hit the track was renamed to Bowmaker. Racing Coopers in 1961, Parnell's team consisted of the highly experienced Roy Salvadori and motorcyle world champion John Surtees, who was quickly becoming an established racer on four wheels.
Penned by Eric Broadley, the chassis was a conventional steel spaceframe with fiberglass body panels. The front suspension was somewhat unusual in featuring a top link and a reversed lower wishbone combined twin trailing links to spread the load, instead of the more familiar and simpler double wishbones. While the chassis was designed to take the all new, but forever delayed Coventry Climax V8 engine, Lola was forced to test and race the first chassis with a Climax four cylinder. In the first few non-championship races, John Surtees proved the capabilities of the chassis by regularly setting the fastest lap times of the four cylinder engined machines. The debut of the V8 engined Lola Mk4 came at the Glover Trophy at Goodwood where Surtees managed to qualify in fifth, but was forced to retire with broken valve gear.
Completely overshadowed by the Lotus 25 with its revolutionary monocoque chassis, Lola's Grand Prix debut was at the Dutch track of Zandvoort. Surtees tried his hardest to attract some attention for the V8 engined Lola by placing it on pole position. Sadly that achievement was quickly forgotten after a wishbone failure put him out of the race. Surtees scored the Mk4's only outright victory a few weeks later during a non championship event at Mallory Park. His best results in Grands Prix were second place finishes during the British Grand Prix at Aintree and German Grand Prix on the Nürburgring. After the great potentional shown early in its career, the Mk4 quickly lost ground to the continuously developed competition from Lotus and BRM and eventually the team's backer Bowmaker withdrew from racing. Unfortunately, Salvadori never seemed to get to grasps with the car and rarely matched Surtees. His best placing was second in a race at Mallory Park, where he had started from pole.
In an attempt to bridge the gap to the lighter and much more rigid Lotus 25, Broadley constructed a single Mk4A for the 1963 season. In many ways it was similar to the three Mk4s of 1962, but it featured additional panelling welded to the tubular members. This semi-monocoque style construction was later successfully used by BRM and Ferrari, but it did not help the Mk4 much. Completed late in 1962, Surtees placed the car on pole at its debut in a minor event, but a valve spring failure put him out of the race. The cars continued to be raced throughout the 1963 season, but could not threaten the top runners. At the end of that year Lola was bought by Ford and Broadley was commissioned to design what would eventually become the GT40. Possibly the most important result of the Formula 1 project was the coming together of Broadley and Surtees. They continued to work together, resulting in many great successes including the 1966 Can-Am championship and a Formula 1 victory in 1967. Page 1 of 1