The Ex – John Surtees 1962 Lola Mk4 Formula 1

The Ex – John Surtees 1962 Lola Mk4 Formula 1

The stunning Formula 1 cars of the 1960s were the pinnacle of one of the most evocative eras in motor sport. Immortalised in John Frankenheimer’s movie Grand Prix, technically refined and with a sound that not even the DFV can match; this was Grand Prix racing at its purest. Driven by some of the greatest names of all time such as Clark, Surtees, Hill, Stuart, Brabham and McLaren, they battled it out on the iconic and then undiluted circuits like the old Spa and the fast banking at Monza. It is easy to see why these cars still command the limelight at the most exclusive historic motor racing events today such as the Goodwood Revival and Monaco Historic Grand Prix.  

Lola was founded in 1958 and masterminded by one of most renown and regarded British race car designers, Eric Broadley. Trained as an architect in the late 1940s, he like so many of his compatriots started out building and racing his own creations. Having been spurred on by the success of the Broadley Special, Broadley had turned his attention to a new more sophisticated venture, Lola. 

In July 1958, the Lola Mk1 made its debut and was an instant success. Single seaters followed with the Formula Junior Mk2 and Mk3 in 1960 and 1961 and after only four years of being in business Lola took on the Formula 1 establishment with the Mk4 in 1962.

The men behind the Yeoman Credit Racing Team of 1961, the Samengo-Turner brothers, funded the project under their newly renamed Bowmaker Racing banner. The highly experienced Reg Parnell was hired to run the team and through John Surtees’ recommendation Eric Broadley was approached to build the cars. Seemingly undaunted by the prospect of pitting his design skills against the might of the established names such as Lotus, Ferrari and Cooper, Broadley single-handedly set about creating his first F1 car, the car we offer today. It was at this time that Broadley recruited a man who was also to go on to be one of the most influential designers in the motor racing world, a young Tony Southgate. 

Built in secret, drawing on the experience gained with their rear engined Mk3 Formula Junior, and utilising an uncomplicated space frame chassis, they produced what has to be one of the most beautiful Formula 1 cars of that evocative era. The Mk4 was designed to take the new 1,500cc Coventry Climax V8 engine but delays with the new power unit meant that the Mk4, like much of its opposition, did its early testing and racing with the four-cylinder 1,500cc Coventry Climax FPF engine. The drivers for the 1962 season were John Surtees and Roy Salvadori. 

The stunning example which we are privileged to be able to offer for sale is the very first Mk4, BRGP41, the prototype and Lola’s first ever Formula 1 car. The Mk4 impressed from the start, making its debut with John Surtees driving BRGP41 at the Brussels GP in March. Powered by the Coventry Climax FPF four-cylinder engine, he finished 5th in the first heat but had to retire from the second. The next outing for the team was at Snetterton for the Lombank Trophy race where Surtees once again drove BRGP41. After qualifying 4th, he retired from the race due to over heating. 

After two outings with the four cylinder FPF engine the team finally got their V8 engines and fielded three cars for the Goodwood Easter meeting. There were two races for Formula 1 cars, the Lavant Cup exclusively for four-cylinder cars and the Glover Trophy. John Surtees drove BRGP41 in the Lavant Cup, qualifying 2nd behind Bruce McLaren. Surtees took the lead of the race from McLaren on lap three and held the position until he tripped over Gunter Seifert’s Lotus 18 in the chicane. 

Seifert has been lapping some 30 seconds slower than both Surtees and McLaren, and in Surtees’ haste to pass before the chicane, he collided with the Lotus 18 putting both cars out of the race. BRGP42, with V8 power, and BRGP43 were then driven by Surtees and Salvadori respectively in the Glover Trophy. Surtees set the joint fastest time with Stirling Moss and interestingly qualified on exactly the same time as in BRGP41. BRGP41 was then rested for the remainder of the 1962 season while the team focused on the other three chassis with V8 power. 

The first round of the 1962 Formula 1 World Championship was the Dutch GP at Zandvoort on the 20th of May and John Surtees shook the establishment when he put his Lola Mk4 on pole position. There were also good results for the next five races in the Championship with Surtees taking 4th at Monaco, 5th at Spa and Rouen, then 2nd at Aintree and the Nurburgring before non-finishes at Monza, Watkins Glen and East London wrapped up the nine race program. This gave Surtees a highly credible 4th overall in the championship behind Hill, Clark and McLaren. He also managed to take Lola’s first ever Formula 1 win in the non-championship International 2000 Guineas at Mallory Park. 

As the season progressed, Bowmaker Racing had become increasingly unable to financially compete with the larger teams in the race to keep up with development and they eventually pulled out of racing at the end of the season. At the end of the 1962 season, two of the Mk4s were fitted with 2.7-litre Coventry Climax engines and taken Down Under for the Tasman series. Driven by Surtees, Tony Maggs and Masten Gregory, the highlights were Surtees taking the laurels at the New Zealand GP in January 1963 and Lakeside in February as well as finishing second in the Australian GP in the same month.

Following it’s contemporary career, BRGP41 soon found its way into Tom Wheatcroft’s growing collection of cars, The Donington Collection. Famous for buying cars “straight from the track”, Tom Wheatcroft has to be responsible for retaining the originality of some of the greatest race cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Having been part of the Donington Collection for several decades, BRGP41 was purchased by Mark Piercy and prepared to race again.  

As a keen and competitive racer, he was looking for, as he put it, one the “the ultimate cars”, the 1,500cc V8s. When the opportunity arose to acquire the ex-Surtees car, Piercy jumped at it. When first acquired, BRGP41 still had a four-cylinder engine fitted, and Piercy commissioned Sid Hoole Racing to restore the car to V8 specification, which was completed in time for the 2009 Goodwood Revival

Over the winter of 2011 the car was taken right back to a bare chassis so as to fine tune every aspect of the car from weight saving through race set up. The Coventry Climax V8 engine was fully refreshed, and fitted with a new gas flowed exhaust system to help performance.

In Piercy’s hands, BRGP41 won multiple races with the Historic Grand Prix Association (HGPCA) and has continued to be a regular invitee to the Goodwood Revival’s prestigious Glover Trophy, taking 3rd overall in 2012 while setting the fastest lap. 

In 2015, Piercy sold BRGP41 to current family owners. BRGP41 was subsequently campaigned at Zandvoort in 2015, the Monaco Historic Grand Prix in 2016, along with at Magny Cours in 2017. The Coventry Climax V8 has again been extensively refreshed in June 2017 by Climax specialists David Whitehurst Racing, and remains low mileage having only completed Magny Cours. David commented on how the engine is one of the nicest Climax V8s that he has worked on.

BRGP41 is today accompanied by an extensive array of spares that include a rebuilt Colotti T32 gearbox, gear ratios, second set of wheels, two spare body sections, exhausts, the original radiator, assorted old wishbones, uprights and drive shafts. It is importantly also accompanied by current FIA HTPs. 

As Lola’s first Formula 1 car, BRGP41 is a superb piece of Lola and Formula 1 history, driven in period by the only man to win the World Championship on both two and four wheels. With 1.5-litre V8 cars in demand with organisers, and as such a short cut to the front of the cue for the exclusive grids like Monaco and Goodwood, BRGP41 can also be raced with the HGPCA around Europe. This is a well proven, race winning car, offering you the opportunity to gain from the significant amount of time effort and money that has gone into getting it there.