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  Lola Mk1 Climax Prototype
 

  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1958
Numbers built:one prototype
Designed by:Eric Broadley
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 16, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMany manufacturers have very humble beginnings and Lola is certainly no exception. Company founder Eric Broadley entered motorsport racing Austin Seven Specials. Together with his cousin Graham, he built his own Special in a small family garage in 1956. Although not particularly successful, the 'Broadley Special' taught the quantity surveyor by trade valuable lessons. Lessons he applied to the first Lola; an altogether more advanced racing car, which was built for the 1958 season.

Aimed at the popular 1100 cc class, Broadley designed the new Lola around the Coventry Climax FWA four cylinder engine. Despite its modest origins as a mobile fire-pump engine, the 1098 cc 'four' produced a staggering 83 bhp. Possibly even more impressive was its sub 100 kg weight. These two characteristics made it the engine of choice in the class, which was dominated by Lotus.

Mated to an Austin four speed gearbox, the FWA was bolted in an all new and again very light (27 kg) multi-tubular spaceframe chassis. Apart from the custom double wishbone suspension, all the other running gear was sourced from various British manufacturers. For example the drum brakes were of Triumph origin and the hubs came off a Morris Minor. The rolling chassis was clothed in low and elegant aluminium skin crafted by Maurice Gomm. Amazingly the completed machine weighed less than 400 kg.

In the summer of 1958 the first Lola was registered for the road. Where exactly the name 'Lola' came from Broadley does not quite remember. Some suggest it was from the song 'What Lola wants, Lola gets.' The Lola Mk1 was not a winner straight out of the box, but it was immediately competitive, finishing runner up in only its second race with Broadley behind the wheel. The efforts of the little Lola did not go unnoticed and quite soon Broadley received orders for customer cars. A new racing car manufacturer was born.

Production of the first customer cars commenced in 1959. Busy expanding his business and realizing his short-comings as a driver, Broadley had give up racing the cars himself at the end of 1958. The production cars proved instant winners, highlighted by a 1-2-3 victory in the Chichester Cup race at Goodwood. For 1960 the labor intensive aluminium body was replaced by a fiberglass one and the cars were fitted with the 90 bhp Mark III version of the FWA engine.

Between 1958 and 1962 it is estimated that Broadley built around forty examples of the Mk1. With class wins in international races from the Nürburgring to Sebring, the Mk1 established Lola as a serious racing manufacturer and a proper alternative to previously dominant Lotus. It took less than five years for Broadley to work his way up from a local garage into the world of Formula 1. All this thanks to the fabulously efficient design of the Lola Mk1. There are few people that have managed to get it this right at their very first attempt.

Featured is the Mk1 Prototype, celebrating Lola's 50th anniversary at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed. In recent years the car was completely restored by Hall & Hall to its original, bare aluminium specification.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications