This Lola Mk6 GT Prototype Made The First Ford GT40 Possible
Photography by Patrick Stevenson
Imagine pulling the cover off this incredible mid-engine prototype Lola GT in 1965 and buying it for only $3,000. Well, Allen Grant did just that in England over 50 years ago and this freshly restored 1 of 1 Mk6 prototype is that car. There was no way Grant or anyone else could have known how special or significant this race car prototype would be today: this very car would be the design inspiration for the infamous Ford GT40.
In 1963, Eric Broadley debuted this same Lola Mk6 GT Prototype at the Olympia Racing Car Show in England. It was designed to be raced in the FIA’s new Experimental Grand Touring Class. The mid-engine V8 was cradled in a steel monocoque chassis and surrounded by stunning fiberglass bodywork. It was the hit of the show, and it’s not hard to see why, and if anything it only commands more attention in 2018. Built to go racing, this prototype ended up competing at Silverstone and the Nürburgring 1000km in 1963, while the first production chassis, which had an aluminum monocoque, raced at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans. At this race Ford took notice of the little Lola and decided it would be a great start toward beating Ferrari.
Ford acquired the Lola GTs and hired Eric Broadley to start development on the GT40 program. The prototype and the aforementioned chassis #1 would become test mules for the design of the fast Ford. This marriage was to be short lived though, and Ford and Broadley parted ways in 1964. After the split, the GT prototype was returned to Broadley and stored in the corner of the Lola factory under a tarp. Time moved on and so did Lola, as development of the new T70 chassis began.
Enter Allen Grant, a Shelby Daytona driver from California, who is working in the shop next door. Grant was working for Shelby in England, prepping the GT40s and Daytona coupes for the upcoming races when one day he walked over to the Lola shop and saw an interesting shape hiding under a tarp in the corner. The silver Mk6 GT prototype was intact, but was missing the Ford 289 V8 engine and the four-speed Colotti Tipo 37 transaxle it housed at one point. After speaking to Rob Rushbrook, who was running the shop at Lola at the time, Grant spent hours looking at the car. Finally he inquired if Broadley might sell it. Remember that Lola was putting all their resources into developing the T70 chassis by now, and they really needed the money and space, so a deal was struck, and Grant gathered all the funds he had and purchased the GT Prototype for $3,000. He had plans to race the car when he returned home.
Grant headed back to the States to finish college in 1966, and the Lola GT found itself in storage once more. As with many project cars, the Lola took a backseat to the priorities of adult life. In fact, as Grant started his successful career as a home builder, he used the Lola as collateral for his first project. Over the years Grant chased the money and time needed to complete the GT, but was never able to have both at once until finally, in 2005, he started the restoration which included the amazing teal interior. Unfortunately the 2008 recession put a halt on the project again, and it sat in pieces until May of 2016. Ford was going to be displaying the new GT road car at Monterey Car Week, and they wanted to have the Lola GT as part of the show.
Grant’s highly skilled mechanic John Hill set out to complete the restoration in just four months. Gathering up the parts and pieces from storage was a project in and of itself, seeing as almost all the parts were there, but a few components were still missing like the plexiglass headlight covers. A new set was made and formed in Hill’s kitchen oven. Cutting it down to the wire, the Lola GT made the deadline and was a huge hit in Monterey.
In 2017 Grant took the Lola back to England and ran it at both of the major Goodwood events. Back in the US, I spotted the car at the 2018 La Jolla Concours d’Elegnace, where it took 1st in class, and I had to find out the story behind this sleek beast. I think it’s safe to say we’re all happy to see it together and running again after over 50 years of obscurity and storage. Although no one is as happy as Allen Grant, because the car that was once a dream in 1965, is finally a reality.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Allen Grant and John Hill for making this story possible