Lola Cars International Ltd. was founded in 1958 by Eric Broadley and based in England. The company built small front-engined sports cars and Formula Junior cars before branching out into many other venues of the racing car world.
The MK2 was a front-engine racer followed by the mid-engined MK3. Then came the MK4, commissioned by Reg Parnell, and intended for Formula 1 competition. Parnell was a racing driver from the 1950s and later became manager of the Aston Martin sports car team.
The MK4 was designed by Eric Broadley and was given a conventional steel spaceframe and clothed in fiberglass body panels. The intended engine was the Coverntry Climax V8, but after the engine was delayed, they team was forced to use a Climax four-cylinder unit for testing and during the first race. In the front was a top link and a reversed lower wishbone suspension setup. There were Girling disc brakes at all four corners and a Colotti Type 32 five-speed manual gearbox.
The inaugural race for the MK4 with the V8 engine was at the Glover Trophy at Goodwood where motorcycle world champion John Surtees qualified in fifth. During the race, the car was forced to retire due to mechanical issues.
The MK4's Grand Prix debut was at the Dutch track of Zandvoort. Surtees managed to get the pole position, but again, was forced to retire prematurely due to suspension failure. A short time later, Surtees was able to finish a race with the MK4, at a non-championship event at Mallory Park, and scored what would be the MK4's only outright victory. In Grand Prix competition, his best finish was a second place during the British Grand Prix at Aintree and German Grand Prix on the Nürburgring.
The MK4 had shown tremendous potential at the start of the season, but it could not keep pace with the continued development from Lotus and BRM. Another setback was the team's financial backer, Bowmaker, withdrew from racing. Trying to remain competition, Broadley created the MK4A for the 1963 season. It was, in many ways, similar to the MK4, but with several improvements to address the reliability and competitiveness of the car.
The MK4A was ready near the end of the 1962 season. Surtees drove the MK4A to pole position on its first outing, albeit a non-championship event. Unfortunately, the car would retire from the race due to a spring failure. For the 1963 season, the cars continued to race in F1 competition, but did not threaten the point leaders.
At the close of 1963, Lola was purchased by Ford and Broadley was tasked with designing the car that would eventually become the GT40.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2012