THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.11 / 12
  November / December 2000

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A look at the many variations of the Mini and the people who helped make the car “A Legend”.


Our subject this month is the Lolita MkII, a Mini-engined sports car developed in the late 60s for circuit racing. Available at the time for 3500 dollars it could be powered by motors from 1100ccs right through to 2.0 litres: it was designed to be competitive in each class for a realistic budget. The MkII Lolita was a more up-to-date design than the MkI in that it had features such as a space-frame type subframe to carry the engine and the suspension was attached directly to the motor via some pick-up points on the chassis. This was a system that Lotus had used in some of its racing cars at the time.

Lolita MkI was a twitchy handling car initially, and was gradually upgraded to be a reliable and competitive Clubman sports car, despite being of small capacity and powered by an 1100 Cooper motor in the rear. The car was a product of a team from a service station in Artarmon called Lolita Automobile Developments. Max Watts, Ian Pope and Henry Nehrybecki worked on this project as well as the Matich SR4 while still operating the service station business.

The car began life as a wooden small-scale mock-up to get a perspective of the shape. The chassis and suspension were programmed on the drawing board: the settings remain if the components are detached for engine service.

A monocoque type centre section incorporating two pontoons sandwiching seats and platform had the subframe attached to it. A ten-gallon fuel tank wrapped in fibreglass for protection was housed opposite the driver for weight balance. A Triumph Spitfire rack and pinion steering was used along with its disc brakes on the front. At the rear, Cooper S discs were used in conjunction with the entire Mini powerplant including standard half–shafts and hubs. The wheels were of Lolita design and cast in magnesium at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: the size was 13ins x 10ins, however a four spoke wheel 12ins wide had also been cast as well.

Drivers at the time reported that the car handled well and apart from poor rear vision was quite an easy car to use. This was important, as the vehicle had been designed for small bore sports car racing for budget minded entrants. Lolita MkI has been restored and can be seen in the 2001 Mini calendar. Both models are now regarded quite highly as being the ultimate sporty car using Mini bits to maximum advantage.