Lola Saved by Haas-Multimatic Deal
Lola Cars, one of the most important marques in modern sports car racing, has been rescued from bankruptcy.
Lola Group Holdings, owners of the automobile designs and “Lola” brand name, has concluded a deal with Carl A. Hass Automotive and Multimatic Engineering to continue the production of Lola chassis and parts and possibly new Lola designs for the future.
“The news of this agreement comes at a very pivotal moment in Lola’s history,” Lola owner Martin Birrane told Endurance-Info.com. “The economic downturn, which has caused difficulties for everyone in motorsport, has taken its toll on the Lola business. However, the Lola brand continues and this agreement with Multimatic and Haas ensures that the legacy of Lola’s success on the track will endure.
“Multimatic have been close allies on many projects,” Birrane added, “and, like Haas, tasted success with a Lola product at Le Mans in 2000 with the first ever LMP675 class win using the B2K/40 design. I’m looking forward to these renewed relationships and the benefits it brings to our customers.”
Lola, founded in 1958, produced successful sports-racing and formula cars for almost 40 years before falling on hard times. The company was rescued from bankruptcy in 1997 by Irish businessman Martin Birrane.
The reorganized company, Lola Group depended on U.K. defense contracts for much of its income, and budget cuts brought on by the global economic downturn, plus the rejection of the Lola IndyCar design and competition among sports-car manufacturers, put the company too deep into the red. On May 21 the company went into receivership while it searched for new investors or purchasers.
The news hit hard in the sports car world, where teams running Lola chassis didn’t know if they could get spare parts and fans who had grown up with Lola wondered if the iconic brand was finally doomed.
When Lola Cars went on the market, Canadian firm Multimatic Engineering, a supplier of parts to the auto Industry since 1984, which has operated a racing arm, Multimatic Motorsport since 1992 teamed up with Carl Hass Auto, founded in 1961, became the North American Lola distributor in 1967, selling thousands of Lola racing cars.
This team successfully purchased the intellectual property required to build Lola cars under the Lola nameplate, and also hired Lola’s chief designer, Julian Sole as well as several other Lola employees.
Under this new arrangement, Multimatic will produce replacement parts to service current customers, while Haas Auto will serve as distributor. The design team is said to be planning a new car for the merged North American sports car series which will begin operations in 2014.
There has been no word of whether the new Lola will design a car for the revised FIA/ACO LMP1-regulations; since earlier models can be grandfathered in for a season, it seems more Likely Lola will wait for 2015, when LMP2 regulations are also due to be revised.
Lola has also submitted a proposal for the 2014 Indy Lights series. As this is a one-make series, winning the Indy Lights contract would be a huge boost to the new Lola’s fortunes.
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