Imagine seeing this in your rearview mirror....

1997 was a terrible Formula 1 season for Lola. Actually, it wasn’t much of a season at all taking into account MasterCard Lola F1 Team only raced in the inaugural 1997 Australian Grand Prix. "Raced" is probably not the most suitable word to use since they didn't even make it pass the qualifying session, with both Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset behind qualifying winner Jacques Villeneuve by more than ten seconds. The sponsor decided to pull the plug after the team’s very poor performance in Melbourne. Without the necessary funds, the team went bust before the Brazilian Grand Prix three weeks later.

But something good did came out of the Lola T97/30, and it was this. Meet the one and only F1 car with road-legal status. To be fair, it’s not exactly the same as the F1-spec car since some changes had to be made in order to register the vehicle in U.K. For starters, the ground clearance was increased and it’s now adjustable between 50 to 75 mm (1.9 to 2.9 inches).

While the Lola F1 car had a naturally-aspirated 3.0-liter V8 Ford Zetec-R engine hooked up to a semi-automatic transmission, the F1R is motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter Cosworth engine linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. In its current configuration, the unit develops 370 horsepower (276 kilowatts), but the seller mentions modifying the turbocharger could bump that output easily.

1997 Lola T97-30 F1 Road Car F1R
1997 Lola T97-30 F1 Road Car F1R

In order to pass the safety inspection, the F1R received headlights, taillights, turn signals, and a handbrake. Designed and assembled by Lola, the car is in perfect condition as it should be since it has covered a mere 25 miles (40 kilometers) and has been stored in a climate-controlled environment. Other than the changes we’ve mentioned, this is basically a 1997-spec F1 car with the FIA-spec nosecone, carbon fiber brakes, pushrod suspension, and the very same body panels.

The owner says the F1R is “good in traffic,” although we have our doubts about that…

Should you be interested, the F1R will be auctioned by Bonhams in London on December 7 when the car is expected to fetch anywhere between £55,000 and £85,000 (about $68,620 - $106,050).

Source: Bonhams via The Drive

Gallery: 1997 Lola T97/30 F1 Road Car F1R

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1996/2009 'Formula 1' Derived Road Car F1R (Road)
Registration no. AE59 ERV
Chassis no. 7A4N9N319S106N52R
*Designed and built by Lola engineers
*Unique specification
*Road legal in the UK
*Only circa 25 miles since completion


  • Design and race engineers at Lola, headed by Russell Anniston, were challenged by way of a wager to build a Formula 1-style car that could be UK road registered. The street car had to embody the excitement, visual cues, and sense of theatre of a traditional Formula 1 racing car, while still addressing the practical road issues involved. The most practical way of demonstrating this was to build one. It took the best part of 15 years from concept through design to completion, and the result is a combination of several racetrack and road-car technologies. Needless to say, after this magnificent creation's completion, the wager was won.

    The F1R was built around a circa 1996 Lola chassis (which may have come from the company's aborted 1997 F1 project) utilising the tub, wings, suspension, nose none, body panels, radiator ducting, and other ancillaries.

    Although during this period of Formula 1, normally aspirated engines of 3.0-litres capacity were used, it was felt that for road use a 2.0-litre turbo-charged Cosworth YB unit would offer the optimum balance. The four-cylinder Cosworth was mated to a G50 five-speed manual gearbox for simplicity of use, while the ready availability of parts ensures easy ongoing maintenance. The engine is presently tuned to deliver a healthy 370bhp, but adjusting the turbo can substantially increase this.

    Ground clearance was one of the most obvious areas of consideration, and this F1 derived road car runs at an increased and adjustable 50-75mm. As with an F1 car, the aerodynamically critical surfaces and wings generate increased levels of downforce as speed rises. Both front and rear wings are adjustable.

    The F1R is an amalgamation of various racing vehicle technologies, and uses conventional components where appropriate. All service items are readily available. The F1R was built and assembled by Lola engineers to the highest standards with customary attention to detail. The net result is a car that quite possibly provides the closest sensation of driving a single-seat racer on the road. 

    To say it is eye-catching on the road is somewhat of an understatement. The owner reports that the car is good in traffic, very easy to drive, and offers tremendous performance when required - it even has a 'handbrake' to comply with UK regulations. The F1R is offered in effectively 'as new' condition, having covered only some 25 miles and been stored in a climate controlled environment with a stable of other cars. The maintenance programme includes starting and warming up to operational temperatures every month. The F1R's last outing was in early autumn for its annual MoT test.

    The seller, an avid motorsport enthusiast and driver, is very happy to offer any advice to the buyer. Furthermore, one of Lola's former race engineers is also available to offer advice. A spares package is included with the car, and an inventory of these parts is available from Bonhams.  A comprehensive history of the specifications and build of this striking car is available also.

    Offered with a DVLA V5C document giving the first date of registration as 13th October 2009, this is the only such motor car built and is fully road legal in the UK having passed the government SVA tests. Coming to sale at a fraction of the price such a car would cost to commission today, this extraordinary vehicle represents a unique opportunity to any motorsport collector.