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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1963
Numbers built:3
Designed by:John Frayling
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 17, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMotorsport was going through a big revolution in the early 1960s; from front to mid engined racers. Not surprisingly endurance racing was the last category to fully pick up on the latest developments. For size reasons, the mid mounted engine much favoured smaller engines. Never quick to react to changes, Ferrari continued to run front engined prototype racers up until 1962, which were able to fight off the mid-engined competition with their well developed chassis and hugely powerful engines. The 1963 season proved to be a most important year and a turning point in Le Mans history; Ferrari entered a mid-engined V12 prototype and maybe even more important was the small Lola Mk VI GT roaring down the long straights.

Eric Broadley's Lola made their racing debut with the front engined Mk I sportscar late in the 1950s. With the subsequent Mk II - V single seater races Lola participated in Formula 1 and Formula Junior racing. Broadley recognized the slow adaptation of mid-engined design in endurance racing and figured he could have a shot at it with a new car. Apart from the technical difficulties, the development was also hampered by the governing body's decision to run the world championship for GT cars as of 1962, rather than the full blown sports cars of the past. A second class was added though to keep the spectacle alive, one for 'experimental GTs'. This allowed for prototype racer, but required them to be equipped with road equipment, like a spare tire.

It was for the experimental GT class that Broadley designed his new Mk VI GT. Inspired by Colin Chapman's Lotus 25 Formula 1 racer of 1962, a monocoque chassis was constructed, with a front subframe to support the radiator and suspension. The engine and transaxle were bolted on the monocoque. The gearbox and rear bulkhead supported the rear suspension. For the first car Lola used mainly steel for the monocoque, but the for following two aluminium was used. Suspension was by double wishbones coil overs all around. Despite being designed to hold a big V8 engine, the Mk VI's wheelbase was shorter than the marque's single seaters of the day.

John Frayling was commissioned to design a low drag coupe body for the chassis. His previous work included the original Lotus Elite. The fibre glass body he sculpted very well suited the small chassis, with very short front and rear overhangs. One of the more striking features were the doors, which cut into the roof considerably, to accommodate for quick driver changes in endurance racing. This solution was carried over in its much more famous successor, but more about that later. Another novelty was the central air intake for the engine located in the roof of the car. The cut-off Kamm style tail of the car was livened up by a pair of Ford Cortina rear lights. The completed car was a very attractive racer, more than a match for Ferrari's new 250 P mid-engined prototype, at least in the looks department.

The first car was completed in time to make a late debut at the 1963 Racing Car Show in the UK. This was the steel monocoque, which understandably stunned the crowds. It made its debut at the Silverstone Daily Express Meeting in May, where it was driven by Tony Maggs. Starting from the back, Maggs had never driven the car before, but still managed to finish an incredible fifth. Next up was the Nürburgring 1000 km race, where wheel nut problems put the car out of the race. Meanwhile Lola worked hard on completing a second car to race at Le Mans.

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  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (4)