The Ex – Walter Lehmann, Ruedi Jauslin, Rosso Bianco Collection 1973 Lola T292 DFV

The Ex – Walter Lehmann, Ruedi Jauslin, Rosso Bianco Collection 1973 Lola T292 DFV

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the World Sports Car Championship was going through one of the most evocative and exciting periods ever, featuring some of the most iconic cars of all time, such as the Porsche 917 and 908, Ferrari 512S, Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, and the smaller Lolas and Chevrons. Drivers like Brian Redman, Vic Elford, Helmut Marko, Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx were furiously competing on both sides of the Atlantic at events like Le Mans, the Targa Florio, Sebring 12Hrs and Watkins Glen.  This was Sportscar racing arguably at its absolute best.

With the growing success of the smaller lighter 2-litre Group 6 cars the European 2-litre Championship was born in 1970. The two main rivals in the class were Lola and Chevron. Lola had enjoyed unprecedented success with their classic T70 sports car, with John Surtees winning the 1966 Can-Am title in such a car. Chevron had however been establishing their international reputation with the success of the 2-litre Chevron B8 and stunning B16.

When the the new 2-litre championship was announced for Group 5 and 6 cars, the FIA allowed open spyders which would expect a weight advantage over the coupes. Lola took advantage of this and designed the T210. Some 70Kg lighter than the B16, Jo Bonnier put the T210 on pole for the first four races of the season, winning three and going on to claim the driver’s European 2-Litre Sports Car Championship for Makes in 1970.  In 1971, Helmut Marko won the championship in his T212, helping Lola clinch the manufacturer’s crown.

From the T210 and T212 design, Lola designers Bob Marsden, Patrick Head and John Barnard developed the open topped monocoque concept further resulting in the T280 and T290 series of cars which debuted in 1972. The T280 series of cars were of 3-litre capacity, utilising Cosworth’s very effective DFV Formula 1 engine as a stressed member and were intended for the World Championship of Makes. The T290 series cars were 2-litre and often ran with Cosworth, BMW and later ROC Chrysler engines. The two series of cars are typically distinguishable by the very different designs of roll hoop.

Both series of cars proved to be popular on an international level, with the 3 litre cars offering an attainable way for customers to take the fight to the might of the works teams like Ferrari, Porsche and Matra. Swiss Lola importer Jo Bonnier proved the potential of the new T280, winning the Le Mans 4 Hours in 1972. Meanwhile the 2-litre T290s went on to win many a race and championship around the globe including the 1973 European 2-Litre Sportscar Championship with Chris Craft.

1973 saw the first of the updates, which consisted of new bodywork with a substantial rear wing and inboard rear brakes, bringing the T292 name revision. Subsequent versions followed, concluding with the T298 in 1981. In total, 10 T280 series cars, and around 100 T290 2-litre cars were produced by Lola. Many of the 3-litre cars were written off  in period however.

T292 HU50 is unique. It is the only T292 supplied new with provision for a 3-litre Cosworth DFV engine. Despatched from Lola on the 24th April 1973, HU50 is listed on the Lola production records as having a Hewland FGA gearbox, number 25, red in colour, invoice number 2191, and engine number as DFV. HU50 was supplied to Bonnier in Switzerland and  it went from there to first owner, Walter Lehmann. Recalled by Heini Mader, who took over the Bonnier operation, as someone who only had new cars and kept them immaculate, Lehmann went on to race HU50 just twice in 1973.

Lehmann debuted HU50 at Mainz-Finthen on the 1st July 1973, where he finished 3rd. HU50 was entered as a Lola T282, referencing the 3 litre configuration, as went on to be the standard procedure during its life. Next for Lehmann and HU50 was the Preis von Baden-Württemberg Hockenheim round of Interserie on the 30th September 1973, where he finished 8th on aggregate after taking 9th in heat 1 and 8th in heat 2.

Walter Lehmann then isn’t recorded as racing HU50 again, and in 1978 it was sold to Ruedi Jauslin in Switzerland. In recent correspondence with Jauslin, he recalled how he bought HU50 from Walter Lehmann in Germany, with a 3-litre Cosworth DFV engine, in yellow. The yellow bodywork appears to be the transition from divided cockpit to the rules stipulating that cockpits must be open.

 

Ruedi Jauslin bought HU50 having raced and hillclimbed many cars since the mid 1960s. Jauslin recalls that he repainted HU50 into a black livery with Kendall GT-1 Racing Oil sponsorship, and on the first outing in 1978, the DFV failed. Following this he installed a 2-litre Renault V6 engine, as used by the Elf F2 and Renault A441 sportscars. Meanwhile, the DFV was rebuilt and then refitted by the time he raced HU50, entered as a Lola T286, at Hockenheim on the 15th July 1979.

The car and driver combination proved to be effective, with the pairing finishing 2nd. Next was to Most for the Interserie round on the 12th August 1979. With start number 1, Jauslin finished 6th after also qualifying 6th. At the Interserie round on the 7th October 1979, held at Kassel-Calden, Jauslin finished 3rd with HU50. Amongst these circuit outings in 1979 were also a few hillclimbs, the other discipline that Jauslin apparently relished.

For 1980, HU50 was repainted, this time in white, with stripes in the colours of Kendall GT-1 Racing Oil. Once more, Jauslin and HU50 took part in a selection of Interserie rounds and hillclimbs in the Swiss and German area. A handful of podiums were achieved, with 2nd at Kassel-Calden and 3rd at Hockenheim, and Oberhallau. In 1981, the livery remained unchanged as did the type of events. Circuit appearances included Nurburgring, Hockenheim, Most and Zolder, largely in the Interserie championship. Jauslin also maintained a presence on the hills, competing with HU50 at Reisdorf, Turckheim and Šternberk.

In 1982, Jauslin altered the livery on HU50. Largely white, the livery featured red sides to the bodywork. As in previous years, photos show that Jauslin alternated between high and low wing rear bodywork sections, and an ancillary front wing even appears in 1982. It proved to be a successful season showing the competitiveness, with a win at Dijon on the 9th May, and two second places at Hockenheim over a two week period in July, competing in a typical mix of Interserie, small rounds, and hillclimbs.

Into 1983 and Jauslin also acquired an F1 Ensign N180 which when fitted with bodywork covering the wheels was eligible for Interserie. HU50, remaining in the white with red livery, was still campaigned along with the Ensign. Races included Interserie at Most and some smaller raced at Hockenheim, with a best result of second. For 1984, HU50 was repainted, this time into yellow with thin red lines. HU50 and Jauslin again competed in a mix of circuit racing and hill climbs, taking a second at Dijon in April and a win at Hockenheim in May.

Following the ’84 season, Jauslin focused on the Ensign for Interserie and HU50 was sold to Peter Kaus of the Rosso Bianco Collection in Germany. At the point when sold to Kaus, Jauslin had HU50 fitted again with the 2-litre Renault V6 engine, with the bodywork and paint being as it last raced with Jauslin in 1984.

When the time came for the Rosso Bianco Collection to be dispersed, HU50 was one of a number of sports racers from within the collection to be auctioned by Bonhams at their London Olympia sale in December 2006. At the time, HU50 was completely unrestored, hadn’t been run while in the Rosso Bianco Collection, and sold to Robert Parker near London. While in Parker’s ownership it remained untouched until in 2007 it was bought by Lord Irvine Laidlaw.

Lord Laidlaw tasked Simon Hadfield Motorsport with getting HU50 ready to be used once again. Upon arrival there, it was remarked that HU50 was actually in exceptional, original and un-molested condition. Simon’s observations were as follows: “The fit of the bodywork was brilliant, and all wishbones, body mounts, brackets etc were correct, unrepaired and still plated in Lola’s dull nickel finish. The impression was of a car that had never been abused, had never been seriously damaged and had been well and efficiently run by good guys.”

The restoration work at Simon Hadfield Motorsport was a case of preservation where possible. The condition of the monocoque was assessed and deemed to be in very good, race worthy shape. Crack testing was undertaken, fuel cells replaced, and Cosworth DFV engine, number 376, was sourced and rebuilt by Geoff Richardson Engineering. The Hewland FGA gearbox which came with HU50 is the original, still stamped FGA-25, as noted on the Lola build records. Corners were rebuilt, utilising original wishbones where possible, uprights and brake callipers. Even the bodywork was fit to be used again and was painted into the colours of Lord Laidlaw, burgundy with a silver stripe.

Once the rebuild had completed in early 2008, HU50 was raced by Lord Laidlaw across Europe in events including Le Mans Classic in 2008. HU50 was found to be a very fast and well handling car, beating the competition on many an occasion. After campaigning the car over two seasons, Lord Laidlaw sold HU50 to the current owner in 2010. While in his ownership, HU50 has been maintained by Pearsons Engineering and shortly after entering the current custody, the livery was changed from the burgundy with silver to a white and orange scheme, similar to that of other period 3-litre sports cars.

While in the current ownership, HU50 has been campaigned at Peter Auto events including Le Mans Classic in 2014, Dix Mille Tours du Castellet at Paul Ricard in 2015, and other events at Portimao, Barcelona and Donington Park. The Cosworth DFV engine has been continued to be maintained by Geoff Richardson Engineering.

Most recently, HU50 has returned to the white with tri-colour stripes livery, as raced by Ruedi Jauslin. The airbox, which accompanied the car from the Rosso Bianco Collection, has been reconfigured to suit a Cosworth DFV again, and the various sponsor decals that HU50 carried while raced by Jauslin have been re-applied. While preparing the bodywork for paint, the existing layers of paint were sanded through revealing the archeology.

The results show the presence of yellow gel coat, as described by Jauslin from when it entered his custody, underneath the various liveries. The bodywork tells the story of the history. The high wing tail section is a period Lola made piece, as are the doors which also have the yellow gel coat base. The side-pods have had duct repairs but are believed to date back at least to Jauslin’s time, and the nose that is fitted is a newer piece. HU50 is also accompanied by 2017 FIA HTPs, and a healthy spares package.

HU50 is a unique car, the only Lola T292 which was factory supplied with provision for a 3-litre Cosworth DFV, and the 3-litre roll hoop. As it sits today, HU50 is one of very few 70s sports prototypes in existence that retains its original monocoque, gearbox, parts and bodywork, making it a highly original entity with a continuous ownership history. Benefitting from the sympathetic care provided by both Simon Hadfield Motorsport and Pearsons Engineering since emerging from the long term ownership of the Rosso Bianco Collection, HU50 has been campaigned with success at events such as Le Mans Classic on multiple occasions. With the new season approaching, HU50 is the perfect, race winning choice for Pre ’80 Endurance, Peter Auto’s CER 2, and of course the 2018 edition of the legendary Le Mans Classic.