Lola at Revival: From Can‑Am muscle to Madgwick lightweights
From the 1960s and beyond, Lola was one of the very best suppliers of racing car chassis in the world. Founder Eric Broadley sadly passed away earlier in 2017, so at Revival, we paid tribute to his remarkable marque.
The jewel in the Lola crown at 2017’s Revival was arguably the GT Mk6. This is the car that gave rise to the Ford GT40. When Henry Ford decided to beat Ferrari at its own game at Le Mans, he went to Lola and asked them to build the car. Eric Broadley’s GT Mk6 was the basis – and you can see the DNA, particularly in the midsection of the car, the doors and the cockpit.
Just three GT Mk6s were built, the first prototype being shown at the London Racing Car Show in 1963. The third car was converted to Chevrolet power and raced extensively in the USA, but it was car number two that attracted the attention of the Ford Motor Company. It was raced at the 1963 Le Mans 24-hour but didn’t achieve glory. Last minute specification changes meant testing was missed, and the car raced with the wrong gear ratios meaning it couldn’t achieve its top speed on the Mulsanne Straight. Even so, it was enough for Ford to see its potential and to use it as the basis for the GT40 programme.
The car at Revival is the original Racing Car Show prototype and the most original of the Mk6 GTs. When Lola was in the midst of building T70s, this one was under a cover in the workshop. Eric Broadley had planned to convert it to a road car, but Shelby driver Allen Grant made an offer for it. Fifty years on, he still owns it. It has been preserved in exactly the form it appeared at the 1963 London Racing Car Show. It led the parade lap for the Whitsun Trophy, which featured Ford GT40s and Lola T70 Spyders.
The T70 was, to some extent, a further development of the GT40. Introduced in 1965, it would be the Mk2 of the following year that would prove the most successful of all T70 derivatives. Its lighter weight (down by 32kg) and more stable handling thanks to revised suspension were the main improvements.
Lola didn’t just make GT racing cars. Its single-seaters could be seen in the Chichester Cup, while the beautiful Mk1 sports car appeared in the Madgwick Cup.
The first Eric Broadley Memorial Cup, for the the fastest Revival lap of the weekend by a Lola, went to Ben Adams in his Mk1. The very wet conditions meant that not all the power of the big-hitting T70s could be deployed.
Photography by Jochen Van Cauwenberge, Jayson Fong and Drew Gibson