Thanks to a bet with engineers at Lola, some lucky enthusiast will drive away from an upcoming Bonhams auction with a street-legal Formula 1 race car. The prototype Lola F1R was built to meet UK regulations and goes on the block at the Bonhams Collector's Motor Cars, Motorcycles, and Automobilia auction on December 7.
Created after a wager challenged the Lola design team to build a road-ready Formula 1-style car, the F1R is the culmination of a 15-year effort to make good on that bet.
Built with surplus parts from the F1 that Lola tried to race in the late 90s, the F1R includes the requisite Formula 1 bits like the tub, adjustable front and back wings, an inboard pushrod suspension, carbon brakes, FIA-spec nosecone and body panels, and radiator ducting. There's even a quick-release steering wheel.
Some adjustments, however, had to be made to make this race car more roadworthy.
Most important was ride height, since the typical F1 car barely sits above the asphalt of a typical track. To allow the F1R to clear typical road hazards, its road height was increased to 50 mm (2.0 inches) of ground clearance, adjustable up to 75 mm (3.0 in).
The engineers also swapped out the engine and gearbox. Instead of the original 1997-spec V8 and semi-automatic gearbox, the F1R uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter Cosworth four-cylinder from a Ford RS Sierra coupled to a five-speed manual Porsche G50 transaxle. The turbocharged engine is said to be tuned to deliver about 370 hp, but it can be adjusted for more output. The choice of engine and gearbox will evidently make the car easier to maintain.
Of course, headlights, turn signals, and a handbrake had to be installed to pass safety inspection and to make it drivable in day or nighttime conditions.
Listed at an opening bid of between US$70,000 and 110,000 (£55,000 to 85,000), the F1R is in a stated "as new condition" with all of about 25 miles (40 km) on it. Access to one of Lola's former race engineers and a spare parts package are also included.
Bonhams aptly points out that you couldn't build a car like this for close to these amounts.