Britain’s oldest existing manufacturer of racing cars turns 50 this year. First established by Eric Broadley in 1958, Lola has proved its worth in a staggeringly diverse spread of motorsport categories: from club racing through endurance sports-racers to Indycars and F1. In all, Lola has built some 4000 competition cars – and claims more race and championship wins than any other racing car manufacturer in the world.
In 1997, the company was acquired by Martin Birrane, who has fearlessly invested in the future of the Huntingdon-based business with impressive results. Take, for example, the new, closed-cockpit Lola LMP1 chassis, to be fitted with the latest Aston Martin 6-litre V12 race engine for this year’s Le Mans.
Lola’s trip to Le Mans in 2008 will be rather different from the company’s first foray there, in 1963. Back then, the competing Mk6GT was driven on public roads all the way from Lola’s new factory in Slough to the world’s toughest endurance race in France. While the Mk6GT ended that race in rather undignified fashion (on its roof), the real success was Ford’s reaction. So impressed were they by the car’s design that it became the inspiration for the Ford GT40.
It’s hard, after 50 such illustrious and varied years, to pick highlights from the many cars which Lola has produced. We show here just a few of our favourites. But if one stands out above all others, it must surely be the all-conquering T70, which Broadley first unveiled in 1965 – and which is remembered today as much for its sleek beauty as its devastatingly quick performance on track.
Here’s to the next 50 years.
Text: Charis Whitcombe
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