"Mecom Racing Team" Lola Mk6 GT (# LGT-2) at Silverstone Classic 2011
|Category||Experimental Grand Touring|
John Frayling (coachwork)
|Chassis||Aluminum monocoque (steel monocoque for prototype car)|
|Suspension (front)||Double wishbones|
|Suspension (rear)||Double wishbones|
|Length||3,912 mm (154.0 in)|
|Width||1,600 mm (63.0 in)|
|Height||1,016 mm (40.0 in)|
|Wheelbase||2,356 mm (92.8 in)|
Ford Motor Company, 289 cu in (4,735.9 cc)|
(later Chevy 6,000 cc (366.1 cu in)) pushrod V8 NA mid-mounted
|Transmission||Colotti Tipo 37 4 speed manual|
|Weight||950 kg (2,094.4 lb)|
Lola Racing Cars|
Mecom Racing Team
|Debut||Silverstone, 11 May 1963|
The Lola Mk6 GT was a racing car built in only three units between 1962 and 1963 by British car manufacturer Lola Cars. With its 289 cubic inch Ford V8 engine, the Mk6 GT was the first mid-mounted, high displacement V8-powered Grand Touring car, a chassis arrangement that had been used, up until that time, only on formula cars and smaller, more affordable GTs.
Mid-engine cars were a revolutionary idea introduced in car racing by Cooper Car Company, a small British firm that managed to beat big players in Formula 1 World Championship twice in a row, but this layout did not make its path into Grand Tourers, which were accepted to race only if a minimum production run had been completed: not a single manufacturer was keen on doing big investments to build cars "at a minimum rate of one hundred identical units as far as mechanical parts and coachwork are concerned in 12 consecutive months", as required by FIA, without having the necessary experience with such applications and the right parts and components.
It is important to say that in those days there was no "off the shelf" transaxle gearbox capable to manage the enormous torque provided by big V8 engines. When Colotti Tipo 37 gearbox was made available to the market after it was specifically built to be mounted on the Lotus 29 single seater, a racing car powered by a 256 cu in (4,195.1 cc) Ford Fairlane V8 and intended to race the 1963 Indianapolis 500, Lola's owner Eric Broadley had the opportunity to solve the problem.
Moreover, FIA's decision to terminate its World Sports Car Championship by replacing it with the new International Championship for GT Manufacturers for 1962 season, in order to focus manufacturer's attention on Grand Tourers, made more difficult for mid-engined GT to make their way into production. But the Federation left an open door to research and development, admitting to races Experimental Grand Touring cars (later known as Prototypes), with no minimum production requirement, but requiring roadworthiness. Lola Mk6 GT was conceived by Eric Broadley at the end of 1962 to be accepted into Experimental Grand Touring class.
The Mk6 GT featured some of the best technology of the time, first of all an aluminium monocoque (although the prototype car had a steel monocoque in order to save time), while all opponents - apart from Jaguar - still relied on Space frame chassis. The Ford-Colotti engine-gearbox assembly was a stressed member and the rear suspensions were mounted directly on it, like on the best Formula 1 cars of that time: as a result the car was so compact that the wheelbase was even shorter than Lola's other formula cars, despite using a big pushrod 400 hp (298 KW) American V8 engine.
The coachwork, designed by John Frayling and made by FRP, had its own features like reduced overhangs, Kamm-tail, roof-integrated engine air intake and special doors: they extended into the roof to give the pilots greater access to the cockpit once they were open, an idea that was kept on the successor, the Ford GT40.
Prototype car (chassis LGT-P) was shown to public in January 1963 at Olympia Racing Car Show in the United Kingdom gaining a big success and great expectations and during following months South African Tony Maggs raced it at Silverstone (finishing fifth starting last on the grid) and at Nürburgring 1000 km (retired for technical reasons), while the second car (chassis LGT-1, aluminium monocoque) was being completed and prepared for 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Short of preparation, Broadley himself brought LGT-1 to Le Mans at the very last moment for technical verifications, that required some modifications to the car. After their completion the car was allowed to race, but the time spent couldn't be used for proper testing: the car raced with the wrong gear ratios, was not able to show all of its potential (pilots didn't go full throttle on the long Mulsanne Straight, to avoid overrevving, with a 30 mph lower than predicted top speed) and was forced to retire after 15 hours by an accident due to a gear selector failure. Understanding the potential performance of the Mk6, Ford Motor Company bought it to further test the car laying the foundation for its GT40 project and involving Broadley himself, who later left the program.
Meanwhile, a third car (chassis #LGT-2), the second aluminium monocoque not raced at Le Mans that year because it not ready, was completed and sold to American Mecom Racing Team that raced it at Brands Hatch, where the Ford engine broke after only four laps. Replaced by a Traco-tuned 6 litre Chevrolet V8 delivering 530 hp (395 KW) at 6500 rpm, the car was extensively raced in North America and won 1963 Bahamas Speed Week
- "Lola Mk6 GT results". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Thorson, Thor (31 December 2006). "1963-64 Lola-Chevrolet Mk 6 GT". www.sportscarmarket.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- "Appendix J 1961 - Art. 264 - Group 3: Grand Touring Cars: Definition" (PDF). www.fia.com. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- "Colotti Trasmissioni - History". www.colotti.com. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- Melissen, Wouter (23 November 2012). "1963 Lotus 29 Ford". www.ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Melissen, Wouter (20 December 2004). "1963 Lola Mk6 GT Ford". www.ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- Martin Krejci, cited web page
- "Lola Mk6 GT results, chassis LGT-2". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- Melissen, Wouter (16 March 2011). "1963 Lola Mk6 GT Chevrolet". www.ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- Images from "Lola Heritage" official website
- Lola Mk6 GT - Ford on www.ultimatecarpage.com
- Lola Mk6 GT - Chevrolet on www.ultimatecarpage.com
- Krejci, Martin (9 June 2011). "Lola Mark 1 and 6 chassis numbers". wsrp.ic.cz. Archived from the original on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013.