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The Broadley Special in the paddock for the BRSCC meeting at Brands Hatch on the 9th June 1957.

Following the second world war many thousands of servicemen and women returned from their postings with a new skill and enthusiasm - Driving!

The war had introduced many to the skill of driving and in the immediate post war period this created aspirations of vehicle ownership. The time it took to convert the munitions programme into car production created a void that amongst the most ardent enthusiasts was a breeding ground for the 'special builders'. In no time Clubs were being formed and in 1949 the 750 Motor Club was founded to promote racing Austin Seven specials.

By the time Eric Broadley and his cousin Graham, both running Austin cars in the 750 Clubs' events, decided to pool their resources it was 1955. The Broadley Special was built in a lock-up garage behind the Family business in Bromley Kent. Typical of the racing specials of the era it featured swing axle front suspension, live rear axle and a home brewed version of the Ford 1172cc side valve engine.

In 1956 the car did not set the 750 world on fire despite being exceptionally well constructed. However the cousins soon learned the first lesson in motor racing; 'there are some rules that can be interpreted more elastically than others.'


The Broadley Special cornering hard at the BRSCC meeting on the 9th June 1957.

Using this maxim to great effect in developing the engine the Broadleys took a great leap forward and on 18th May at Brands Hatch recorded the first win for a Lola. The season ended with Eric winning the major 750 MC. Trophy which, in a delightful twist of irony, was presented by the builder of the cars which presented the majority of the opposition – Colin Chapman. In a magnanimous gesture to Chapman, Graham Broadley wrote an article for the 750 MC Bulletin describing the all conquering ‘Broadley Special’. (Or was it just to rub salt into the wound?). That article is reproduced below.

In 1958 plans were laid to build a prototype car for the 1100cc class of international sports car racing. The up and coming drivers of the era were increasingly looking to this class of racing as a career step. And so it was to be for Eric Broadley.

The Mk1 Lola proved to be the most successful car in class for the next three seasons and fed Eric's ambition leading him into single seat cars with the Mk2 Formula Junior, Formula 2 with the Mark 3 and as early as 1962 a Fomula 1 car with the Mark4.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Year(s) of Construction: 1956

Total Built: 1


The Broadley Special looking very smart in the paddock, in the background is a Lotus, the major rival to the Lola.

This article originally appeared in the 750MC magazine:


G. & E. Broadley. December 1957

The incredible Special built by the Broadleys, in which Eric has won the Chapman Trophy this year.

It was suggested that some members might be interested in the vital statistics of one, Lola; if so, Eric and I are only too happy to oblige in the hope that it will encourage still more people to have a go - though from what one hears there are already several more promising specials on the way.

The chassis was laid down in early November 1955 and the car was completed and running on Whit-Sunday 1956. Wheel base is 84”, front track 48”, rear track 47”. Weight is exactly 8 cwt. with 3 gallons of petrol, oil, water, etc.

The chassis is made from seamless drawn mild steel tube of 2”, 1’375”, 1.25”, 1”, 0.75” and 0.5” diameter of 18 and 20 gauges and is built on the principle of a rigid, well braced, centre section upon which the rest of the chassis structure relies for its stiffness. Bending loads are kept to a minimum in order to keep each member as light as possible; where heavy localised loading occurs (such as at spring-damper mountings) an attempt is made to spread the load along as much tube as possible. The weight of the bare frame is approximately 65 lbs.


Eric and Graham Broadley hard at work on the Broadley Special, the Lola name can be seen on the nosecone.

All tube joints are filed accurately to fit and stuck together with Sifbronze (3/32 rod silicone/bronze). This entails cleaning the work up to bright metal and vigorous use of a wire brush afterwards to remove the corrosive fluxes - even so, for the non-expert welder, it is the safest way. The undertray (19 gauge Dural) is complete and is a stressed member, it is pop rivetted (1/8”) direct to the tubes - these must be fairly close where loads are taken other than in shear (driver’s seat for instance) say 1.5” apart. In theory one should only use pop rivets in shear.


Graham Broadley taking a turn at the wheel.

An E93A back axle is used with Buckler 4.7 c. and p.; the torque tube is discarded and an alloy housing made to retain the pinion bearings and house an oil seal; a Hardy - Spicer flange (100E back axle) fits direct on the pinion shaft. The axle is located by two trailing arms on each side – 27.25” long, 17 gauge 7/8 tube, these can be lighter on an inboard brake de Dion, or independent, layout as they are relieved of braking and driving torque. Metalistic bushes provide bearings for these arms and being cautious types we use 7/16” bolts through them as they have to work quite hard, especially at the front where they are overhung. Length of trailing arms is a compromise - the shorter, the more the back axle will steer— the longer, the heavier section they must be to ensure sufficient rigidity — yer pays yer money, etc. Lola’s arms rise slightly towards the rear to ensure that what back axle steering is done is understeering.

Rear spring/damper units are Woodhead-Munroe 7” Movement (Lotus 6) but with 50 lbs/ins. springs. A full width Panhard rod (1” x 18 gauge) lives behind the back axle).


Graham again, looking like he is leading the field!.

Front suspension is orthodox swing axle with axle pivots kept as low as possible in order to reduce the dreaded ‘sprag’, rather than to contribute to any roll-centre height theories. The radius arms are early Ford, with V8 steering joints brazed into their little ends; the damper unit is mounted on a bracket suspended well below the front end of the radius arms in order to reduce bonnet height. The axle is lightened inboard of the spring as this part is comparatively lightly loaded; at the pivot a 3/8” bolt is used, and Metalistic bushes appear to take the twisting action without complaint. Arc-welding is desirable if you extend your axle with steel plates either side of it. The front spring/damper unit is standard Mark 6. 52 movement; 165 lbs/ins. springs.


Eric at the Silverstone 9th SUNBAC Race Meeeting.

King pin inclination is small, approximately 4° at static deflection. Wheel camber almost nil at stat. def. Stub axles, drums, etc. are all standard Ford. The brakes use lengthened Ford shoes with standard Ford linings actuated by Lockheed pistons (Morris Minor); single master cylinder (Morris); at the back the old Ford Girling adjuster is retained. Considering their humble and somewhat mixed ancestry these brakes have been superlative, and need adjusting about once a year!

Hand brake cables are just slightly stouter than bicycle cables, a great deal lighter than the usual type and em enough providing you do not build too much leverage into the hand brake itself. Lola’s is of the fly-off type and home-made; the ratchet can be made of Dural – it’s easier to file and lighter.

Wheels are Ford/West London - offset at the rear. 15” rims.

The steering box is Standard 8, fortunately available with its own universal joint for the column, which, in Lola’s case is 1” x 18 tube, with the steering wheel welded directly to the top, home-made again from left-over bits of tube. The sleeve arm is suspended vertically on ball bearings, the track rod ends being immediately behind the axle pivots and close in so that the track rods becoming nearer parallel with the axle at full lock. Track rods with this chassis design are not too clever as they have to be bent to clear the bottom tube and consequently have to be of heavy gauge (Ford track rod). The steering ratio can be adjusted, with limits, by altering the relative positions on the sleeve arm of track rod ends and drag link. Lola uses 1.5 turns lock to lock - the lock is slightly restricted by the radius arms which are not bent and are used at almost 90° to the axles.


Eric at speed.

Cooling is by cross-flow rad., header tank (Lotus) and pump; the majority of water pipes are 1" Dural tube. The gearbox is 93A with “C” type ratios; it is modified at the back to take a larger bearing (A7 rear hub) and an H.S. flange (100E back axle) control is remote by the usual drag link with the lever mounted inside the top of the prop shaft cove1- this cover is made of 2 sides (3) gauge Dural) rivetted to the floor and a lid held on with Dzus fasteners - some support is necessary adjacent to the drivers behind as considerable side thrust is imposed by said behind when cornering.

An elderly 93A motor was fitted in 1956 until the crank got too tired and smashed everything. In 1957 a change was made to 100E in the interests of reliability and, in the long run, cheapness. If anyone else is faced with the position of having all 6 volt equipment but wishes to go 100E it is useful to know that the Hillman starter is 6 volt and fits 100E without alteration; also 93A box fits straight on providing you cut the ear off the bell-housing. Lola uses Mintex M19 clutch lining and a completely standard clutch.

Carburettors are twin 1.25” S.U’s and the most successful needles to date have been M5, M6 and WX.

The body is very simple; there are no double curves apart from the nose which is fibre- glass (lightweight - single thickness chopped strand mat.) All panels are quickly detachable (Dzus) with the exception of the cockpit sides and rear wings - all 20 gauge except for wings which are 18.

That, roughly, is Lola, it is not possible to go into every detail of mods etc. but if there is anything that Lola’s experiences might help you with just write and we will attempt to cater for subjects most in demand in another article. The engine has purposely been left out for the time being as that is a subject on its own.


The Registration document for the Broadley Special.


1957 The Chapman Trophy Eric Broadley Awarded by the 750 Motor Club



18th May Silverstone - Maidstone & Mid-Kent M.C. Meeting Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race - First win for a car bearing the Lola name
25th May Oulton Park - Lancs & Cheshire CC Broadley Special Graham Broadley 1172cc and 750cc Race
1st June Silverstone - 8 Clubs Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race
30th June Brands Hatch - 750MC/Club Lotus/250MRC Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race
7th September Silverstone - Sunbac Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race
28th September Silverstone - Peterborough MC Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race
5th October Silverstone - N Staffs MC Broadley Special Eric Broadley 1172cc Race