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It was no surprise that following on from the success of the Broadley Special Eric Broadley would turn his attention to a new, more sophisticated design in an effort to move up the motor racing ladder. To raise the necessary capital for this new venture Eric and cousin Graham sold the Broadley Special for an impressive £600 and Eric also parted company with his motorbike.
The basis of the new design would be the 1100cc Coventry Climax FWA, this amazing engine was based on the FW (Feather Weight) 4-cylinder unit designed for use in mobile fire-pumps. It consisted of a wedge-head combustion chamber with a line of inclined valves under a single overhead camshaft which operated a set of bucket tappets. Bore was 72.4 mm and the stroke 66.7 mm giving a swept volume of 1098 cc, compression was 9.8:1 with the whole unit weighing in at approximately 215 lbs (98kg). The Mark II version of the FWA that would be fitted to the new Mk1 had a revised camshaft profile and modified inlet manifolds and produced 83 bhp at 6,8000 rpm, not bad when it is remembered the standard FW produced 36 bhp at 3,500 rpm!
The Lola Mk1 of Bernard Cox in the pits at Goodwood.
(The Lola Archive)
Bernard Cox's Mk1 in action at the 1959 Tourist Trophy.
(The Lola Archive)
The Mk 1 was an elegant design comprising a multi-tubular chassis constructed from bronze-welded 20-gauge square steel tubing, it weighed only 60 lbs (27 kg). The front suspension consisted of wide-based fabricated double wishbones with Morris Minor uprights and a BMC steering rack. At the rear the driveshaft acted as the transverse link which together with a trailing arm gave the effect of an upper wishbone whilst the lower wishbone was fabricated from three tubes and the use of eccentric joints allowed for adjustments to both camber and toe in/out. 15" Cooper wheels were used whilst Triumph TR2 drum brakes fitted with Alfin drums were utilised front and rear with the rear inboard to take care of stopping the Mk1. Finally an Austin A30 gearbox with Lotus close-ratio gears and a BMC 4.55:1 differential were fitted. Maurice Gomm built an attractive aluminium body to clothe the chassis, a Climax FWA unit was purchased for £250 and in July 1958 the first true Lola was registered as 600 DKJ and was ready to race. Construction of the car took place in the Bromley garage of a friend of Eric's Rob Rushbrook who had some of the machining facilities necessary in the construction of the car. On completion of the car Rob became a frequent helper at the race meetings where Eric was racing the new Mk1.
The Doug Lawrence Lola Mk1 at Teretonga Park New Zealand.
(The Lola Archive)
A cutaway drawing of the Mk1 showing the multi-tubular chassis together with suspension details.
(The Lola Archive)
Right from the start the Mk1 proved an immediate success with Eric finishing second at Snetterton in only the Mk1's second race and a win followed immediately when Eric won his heat in a sportscar race at Brands Hatch by some 24 seconds and the Mk1 became the first sportscar to lap the Club Circuit in less than a minute. To further underline the promise of the new car on the same day Eric finished fourth in the race for sportscars up to 1500cc despite starting from the back of the grid.

It wasn't long before the requests to buy a MK1 began and using the proceeds of selling the first car and a loan of £1000 from his father Eric founded Lola Cars Limited. Setting up shop at Maurice Gomm's workshop in Byfleet, Surrey an initial run of three cars was undertaken for the 1959 season, one to be the works car, the other two to be sold, one to America. These first three production Mk1s bore the BY prefix (for Byfleet) to their chassis numbers. The works car would be driven by Peter Ashdown who was offered a run in the Mk1 when Eric was testing it at Brands, after being conclusively faster than it's designer Eric sensibly decided that his talents were better suited to design rather than race driving.

For the 1959 season success followed success with a 1-2-3 in the Chichester Cup at Goodwood and a victory at Clermont-Ferrand as well as a class win in the RAC Tourist Trophy. Eric was finding travelling from his home in Orpington to West Byfleet to be too time-consuming and at the end of 1959 new premises were built next to Rob Rushbrook's Bromley premises. During 1960 19 Mk1s would leave the Lola shop all bearing the BR prefix to indicate their Bromley parentage. A number of improvements were included in the 1960 models including the adoption of a Specialised Mouldings fibreglass body, power was also boosted with the Mark III FWA producing 90 bhp at 7,200 rpm. The 1960 Autosport Sports Car Championship saw a Mk1 1-2 in the 1150 cc class with Peter Ashdown's works car heading Alan Rees, Ashdown would repeat this success in 1961. Internationally there were class wins at the Sebring 12 Hours and the Nürburgring 1000km for Charles Vögele and Peter Ashdown, both of these events were rouns of the Woirld Sports Car Championship. There was another class win at the 1961 Nürburgring 1000km for Chris Kerrison and Peter Sergent as well as at the Sebring 12 hours for Charlie Kurtz and Millard Ripley .

Production of the Mk1 continued through to 1962 with 7 more Mk1's being built in 1961 and a further 3 in 1962 as well as the one-off Mk1A (q.v.). Further small modifications were made and the cars were offered in an almost bewildering number of permutations with differing brake specifications, a choice of gearboxes from Ford and BMC dependant on engine choice. Possible engine choices included the Ford 105E or 109E, Coventry Climax 1100cc FWA or 1216cc FWE. Final specifications at the end of the Mk1 development even offered a 1470cc engine with a claimed 120 bhp on tap, which engine this was isn't clear since the Climax FWB was a 1460cc, 100 bhp unit.
The Mk1 still looks stunning today.
(The Lola Archive)
The Henry Taylor Mk1 at Goodwood on 14th March 1961, entered by B.G.P. de Mattos, Taylor won the 10 lap sportscar race. It was unique in having a Coventry Climax FPF engine.
(Picture courtesy of Ben Cowdrey)
Year(s) of Construction
Total Built
1958-62
The Lola Chassis Log shows 34 cars built but the true number is likely to be between 38 and 42.

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 85 inches (190.5 cm)
Track: Front 48 inches (122 cms) Rear 47.5 inches (120.5 cms)
Length: 132 inches (335 cms)
Weight: 812-840 lbs (368-381 kg) without fuel

Mk1 Downloads

Scans of a number of original documents supplied with or about the Mk1 are available for download. They are not always complete and they are some 45 years old but they are a fascinating addition to the story of the Mk1.

Undated Mk1 parts price list, 3 pages. (424kb zip file)
A 5 page list on how to maintain your Mk1 in peak condition, a little tatty with biro annotations for a 1962 version of the list. (1.91Mb zip file)
Partially incomplete 5 page list of the specifications of the 1962 Mk1 (1.1Mb zip file)
Partially incomplete 4 page list of the specifications and prices of the 1962-63 Mk1 (1.2Mb zip file)
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