Lola Heritage

LOLA HERITAGE SCRAPBOOK


25-01-16
Rob Shanahan has kindly allowed us to reproduce his fascinating article on the T60, T61 and T62 series that originally appeared in the One Litre Formula Two magazine.

When the 1000 cc Formula 2 began in 1964, Lola principal Eric Broadley provided the factory-backed Midland Racing Partnership (MRP) and other customers with the tube-framed T54, which was an updated conversion of Lola’s 1963 Mark 5a Formula Junior car.  These cars were of a relatively conventional design utilizing a tubular space frame with a conventional outboard rear suspension comprised of a reversed lower wishbone and trailing arms.  The front suspension was inboard, with a pushrod actuating a bellcrank and high mounted shock/spring units.  These T54 cars were moderately successful in the hands of Dick Attwood and Tony Maggs early in the season, Attwood even earning a win in the second round at Vienna.  Later in the season the T55 was introduced, which somewhat confusingly seems to be an update of the earlier Mk 5 to F2 spec, retaining its outboard front suspension. While the Mk 5a had been very competitive in Formula Junior in 1963, these updated chassis were not competitive against the latest from Brabham and others later in the 1964 F2 season.

Additionally, the introduction of monocoque chassis construction on the Lotus 25 of 1963 showed that such construction provided a big increase in chassis stiffness and reduced weight; the Lotus 25 monocoque was three times stiffer and half the weight of the tube frame of the Lotus 24 it replaced.  To copy the Lotus 25’s riveted aluminum tub construction would have been expensive and required new skills.  Lola chose instead to build its monocoque out of folded 18 ga (.049”) mild steel sheet which was then spot-welded together.  The bulkheads were fabricated from hammer-formed 18 ga mild steel sheet joined by nickel-bronze brazing, a technique commonly used for fabrication of suspension arms and uprights, and therefore commonly available.  The relatively high minimum weight of 420 kg. for the class meant that constructors had no trouble meeting the minimum weight, so mild steel construction allowed Lola to offer monocoque construction at a much lower cost.  Mild steel is roughly twice as heavy as aluminum, but has about three times the stiffness (modulus of elasticity).  This meant the resulting chassis was a little heavier but quite a bit stiffer than the equivalent aluminum monocoque.  The outboard sections of the tub would also serve as the fuel tanks, eliminating the cost and complication of a separate fuel tank.  The Lotus F2 entry for 1964, the Type 32, used steel for its monocoque for similar reasons.

Lola was deep into the design of the T70 Spyder at this point, a car they hoped would be a big seller into the US and European Sports Racer market.  Eric Broadly was primarily involved with the T70 design, so the design of the T60 chassis was entrusted to newly-hired designer Tony Southgate, who would later go on to design for Dan Gurney and BRM, among others.  Southgate chose to use rocker-actuated inboard front suspension, much like the Lotus 25 and 33.  The relatively “beefy” upper rocker arm was paired with a conventional lower wishbone and a small, non-adjustable anti-roll bar.  At the rear there was conventional outboard suspension using radius rods, an inverted lower wishbone, and a single lateral link on top.  The rear anti-roll bar was adjustable, as were the Armstrong dampers all around.

At this point, the official factory team was run by Midland Racing Partnership (MRP), which competed in both F2 and F3 races.  The F2 and F3 versions of the T60 were identical except for wheels, tyres, and engine, and it seems that MRP switched at least one of their cars from F2 to F3 spec.  The F2 version could be fitted either with the BRM type 71 twin-cam engine or the Cosworth SCA; the F3 cars all ran with the Cosworth MAE.
In many of the photos I run across, Lola T54 and T55 cars are misidentified as T60 or T62.  The bodies are very similar, which makes it understandable, but the easy way to tell them apart is the front suspensions.  The T54 and T55 cars had radius rods trailing behind the front wheels, while the T60 cars had none due to the front rocker arm.  From the front, the upper rocker is easily picked out.  Another difficulty in sorting out the history of these cars is the nomenclature used by Lola.  While the factory records show only T60, T61, and T62 models being built, I have seen reference to T63, T64, and T67 models in the race records.  Since T63, T64, and T67 were not officially used by Lola, I have to assume these are actually entries for T60/3, T60/4, and T60/7.

The first T60, chassis SL60/1, was quite a bit different from the cars that followed.  It had an 88” wheelbase and actually carried its fuel directly in the steel tub without rubber bladders.  The attached photos from Lola show this car under construction and there are several visible differences.  The most obvious is that the front hoop which carries the instrument panel is a simple curved tube with the more angular dash panel attached to it.  In later cars the hoop was fabricated from straight and curved sections to more accurately follow the contours of the bodywork.  This unique construction feature makes it easy to spot SL60/1 in photos with the bodywork removed.  The other difference I see is that much of the tub is fabricated using hard-rivets instead of spot welds.  This technique is more labor intensive than spot welding, but may have been necessary to get the sealing required to carry the fuel in the tub without a separate bladder.

It appears that trouble with this fuel-tight sealing caused multiple leaks, so for the cars that followed T60/1 there were fuel bladders installed.  In order to get the same fuel capacity the chassis was stretched and the wheelbase extended by 3.5”, as confirmed by notes from Lola.  The result was that Eric Broadley called the T60 “a most strange thing.  The first one was very quick…, then we built another one and it was useless.”  Richard Attwood was said to greatly prefer 60/1 to the other MRP cars.  You have to wonder how much the lengthened wheelbase had to do with this.  The T62 in ’66 reverted to the shorter wheelbase, so Lola must have seen it as an advantage; it certainly made the mechanical packaging more difficult, as the 3.5” was taken out of the engine bay.
The remaining four T60s built for ’65 were numbered SL60/2 through SL60/5, the SL denoting that they were built in the relatively new premises at Slough.  As shown on a hand-written list obtained from Lola, 60/2 and 60/3 went to MRP, 60/4 went to Eric Offenstadt in F2 spec, and 60/5 went to Frank Lythgoe in F3 spec for Mike Beckwith to drive.  60/1 is on the list as going to Frank Lythgoe in F3 spec, but the car definitely was with MRP in ‘65 and run in F2 according to period race results.  Possibly there was some sort of swap, with 60/1 going to MRP and 60/5 being sent to Lythgoe later as a replacement.

There were a number of excellent drivers put into these cars by MRP in F2 for 1965, including current F1 champion John Surtees, Chris Amon, Tony Maggs, Frank Gardner, Jo Bonnier, Richard Attwood, and Paul Hawkins.  The T60s had considerable success in 1965, with Attwood and Maggs finishing 1-2 at Rome, Amon picking up a win at Solitude, and Surtees winning the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park.  There were additional 2nd place finishes for Attwood at Pau and Gardner at Rheims, plus a 3rd place for Bonnier at Karlskoga.

For 1966 Lola built 6 more chassis, most of them F3 cars.  SL61/6 was a one-off rebuild of SL60/3 for MRP to run in F2 with an injected SCA, but the rest of the cars were built to the new T62 spec.  This included a wheelbase shortened by 3.5”, revised suspension mounting points and geometry, and additional stiffening members installed in the tub.  Of the five new T62s for 1966, four cars were in F3 spec (Cosworth MAE), with only SL62/8 in F2 spec, fitted with an injected SCA.  This car was delivered to John Surtees and run under the MRP banner.  For 1966, the T60 series cars had limited success, as the Brabham/Hondas of Brabham and Hulme ran away with everything.  The Lolas, driven primarily by Attwood, Gardner, and Hobbs for MRP, plus Eric Offenstadt as a privateer, were relegated to struggling to finish in the points.
The following is a short history of the 11 T60 series cars produced by Lola in ’65-’66, compiled with help from Chris Townsend’s extensive research into period magazines and race results:

SL60/1- Dark blue F3 for Frank Lythgoe.  1965: MRP Richard Attwood/Chris Amon/Paul Hawkins [F2].  1st at Solitude with Amon.  1966: MRP [F2].  Sold to Beckwith, then Baker.  1970:  Reported crashed by Chris Featherstone in a Monoposto event.  Remains are with Peter Denty (UK).

SL60/2- Dark blue F2 car for MRP originally with an SCA, then a BRM 71 engine.  1965: MRP Tony Maggs/Frank Gardner/Paul Hawkins/Jo Bonnier/Chris Amon/Richard Attwood.  1966: MRP [F2].  1967: sold to Brian Nelson in Ireland for [FL] racing.  Sold to Black (NZ), then Rob Tweedie (AUS) who restored and raced it extensively.  Recently purchased by former MRP mechanic Roger Fowler (UK).

SL60/3- Dark blue F2 car for MRP.  1965: MRP John Surtees/Frank Gardner [F2].  1st at Oulton Park with Surtees.  1966: Rebuilt as T61 F2 car for MRP (see SL61/6).

SL60/4- Black F2 car for Eric Offenstadt originally fitted with a BRM 71 engine.  1965: Offenstadt [F2], crashed, then fitted with an MAE to run the Temporada series in Argentina, winning the final round.  1966: Offenstadt [F2].  Sold to Bryan Cullen in Ireland for [FL].  In the US with a Cosworth Mk 17 FJ engine by early 1970’s.  Now with Rob Shanahan (US) and under restoration.

SL60/5- Dark Blue F3 car for Frank Lythgoe.  1965/6: Mike Beckwith [F3]. 1967: Steve Thompson [F3]. 1968: Steve Thompson [FL]. 1969: Steve Thompson. 1970: Not known, though likely retained by Thompson. 1971: Chris Featherstone [Monoposto] as a replacement for 60/1.  Now with Peter Denty (UK) and under restoration.

SL61/6- Dark Blue F2 car for MRP.  This car is the only T61, and it is a rebuild of T60/3 with an injected SCA.  1966: MRP Richard Attwood/Allen Rees [F2].  Converted to F3 and sold to Ian Ashley in late ‘66.  1967: sold to Fred Opert (US) and remained in the US until 2011.  Ran at Goodwood Revival 2012, 2013, and 2015.  Now with Robs Lamplough (UK).

SL62/7- Red F3 car for Dragoni.  Most likely went to Italy, now missing.  Either this car or SL62/9 passed through Simon Hadfield’s hands and was reported sold to the Northwest of the US.  A former owner reports it had the monocoque cut off behind the driver and replaced with a tubular subframe.

SL62/8- Dark Blue F2 car for John Surtees.  1966: MRP John Surtees [F2}.  Included in a lot of 4 cars purchased by Frank Williams and Robs Lamplough at the end of ‘66 season.   1967: Lamplough [F2] with Lotus Twincam.  Sold to John L’Amie (Ireland) who won a FL race with it in ‘68.  Ended up in the US running Formula B.  Now back with Robs Lamplough (UK) and under restoration.

SL62/9- Yellow F3 car for Dragoni.  Most likely went to Italy, now missing.  See SL62/7.

SL62/10- Red F3 car for Frank Williams.  Another of the lot sold to Lamplough/Williams at the end of ‘66 season.  Lola notes show it was sold to Patterson.  Went to Italy with Boley Pittard.  Involved in a bad crash at Monza in which Pittard was killed.  Remains of the car are with Peter Denty (UK).

SL62/11- Green F3 car for Frank Williams.  Lola notes show sold to R Bailey.  Ended up in the US running Formula B (Lotus Twincam) with Frank Scurria, well known Ducati racer.  Restored and now with Mike Taggert (US).

SL62/12- Yellow F3 car for Frank Williams.  Notes show sold to Michel Dagorne.  1967: Michel Dagorne [F3]. 1968: Dave Morgan [F3]. 1969: Guy Edwards [F3].  Now missing.

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