Lola Heritage

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Paul Canty sent Lola Heritage the above photograph, taken in Chichester in the 1960s , and asked for any information about the car and driver. The obvious answer is that it is a F Junior Mk2 but David Pratley was able to give a lot more information and it turns out there is more to this car than meets the eye.

David tells us: "Peter Ashdown had made quite a name for himself in 1957 and 58 driving Lotus Mark 9 and 11s.  In October 1958 he was at Brands Hatch to test an Elva Mark 4 with a view to becoming the works driver when Eric Broadley offered him a test in the Mark 1 Prototype.  Ashdown was so impressed he immediately concluded an agreement to become the Lola works driver for the next season.  He went on to win the 1959 BRSCC Sports Car Championship and place first in class and sixth overall in that year’s Goodwood TT.

Lola’s first venture into single seaters was the Mark 2 Formula Junior introduced at the Racing Car Show in January 1960. This car was derived from the highly successful Mark 1 sports car with the transmission tunnel to the right of the driver and compensating rear suspension using unequal length drive shafts and offset differential.

Ashdown lived near Chelmsford and had become friendly with fellow Essex resident and engineer Gerald Smith.  Ashdown and Smith persuaded Broadley to use the concept of the Junior to build a car for the then up to 1500ccs Formula 2.  The car was effectively a mirror image of the Juniors with the transmission running to the left of the driver.  Other differences included reversed steering arms, two rear trailing arms and wider wheel rims.  The engine was to be a special twin cam head built by Smith on a normal Coventry Climax FW bottom end taken out to 1460ccs.

We know that the car was at Goodwood in the Spring of 1960 for testing when, presumably, this photograph was taken.  Ashdown then raced it at the Crystal Palace Whit Monday meeting where it was not competitive and was not seen again in period.  The car surfaced again in New Mexico in the early 1990’s in a rather care-worn state and was later restored by Sid Hoole in the UK.  It is believed to be now in Italy.

However, what on earth was it doing in the middle of Chichester in early 1960?  And why was it towed from the nearby Goodwood circuit?  For what purpose?  If you can help fill in this or any other information on the car, including how and when it went to America, please contact, gerald@lolaheritage.co.uk and/or David Pratley at dpratley@aol.com."

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