Lola T70

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Lola T70 Mk3

The Lola T70 was built for sports car racing, popular in the mid to late 1960s. Developed by Lola Cars in 1965 in Great Britain. Early success came when Walt Hansgen won the Monterey Grand Prix, at Laguna Seca Raceway, on October 17, 1965, driving John Mecom's Lola T70-Ford.[1]

In 1966, the hot setup for the Can-Am was a T70 Chevrolet. Winning five of six races during the year. John Surtees was the champion[2] and Dan Gurney drove the only Ford powered car ever to win a Can-Am race. In 1967, no one could compete with the new M6 McLaren. The T70 was quite popular, with more than 100 examples of the vehicle being built in 3 versions. The first version, besides the original factory car, was the open-roofed Mk II, joined by the Coupé-version Mk III, and a slightly updated version, the Mk IIIB. The T70 was replaced in the Can-Am by the lighter Lola T160.

A Lola T70, in the pits at Silverstone.

When the FIA changed the rules for sports car racing that came into effect for 1968, limiting the engine size of prototypes to 3 liters, sportscars with up to 5000cc engines were allowed if at least 50 were made. This rule allowed the popular yet outdated Ford GT40 and Lola T70s to continue racing. The Fords won Le Mans again in 1968 and 1969, while the T70's only big endurance win came in the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona where they finished 1 and 2. The winning car was the Sunoco Lola T70-Chevrolet of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons.[3] When the minimum number was lowered to 25 for 1969, the more modern Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 were homologated (sanctioned), and outran the older Lolas and Fords.

The T70 was first produced in open-top "spyder" configuration.

Chevrolet powered coupes tended to suffer reliability problems when racing in Europe, in part due to the grade of fuel allowed. When forced to run on commercially available "pump fuel", with a lower octane rating than the "Avgas" permitted under American rules, engine failures were common. In modern historic racing these engines show much improved reliability due to a number of factors: in modern historic racing they use parts unavailable in the 1960s, and fuel quality is better than the historically poor fuel supplied by the ACO.

An Aston Martin powered coupe was entered by Lola for Le Mans in 1967, Even with drivers such as John Surtees, the T70 Aston Martin was a disaster. The Aston Martin V8 engine failed after short runs. The lack of development was attributed to a lack of funds.

During the filming of Steve McQueen's "Le Mans", Lola chassis' were sacrificed, disguised with bodywork from the 917 and 512 that starred in the film. A T70 coupe also appears as a car of the future in George Lucas' first commercial film, THX-1138.

Nowadays, T70's are still driven in classic car events like the Classic Endurance Racing series.

Replicas[edit]

A UK company, "Gardner Douglas" produces a car named "T70 Spyder" with styling inspired by the Lola car, and using an tubular spaceframe chassis with GRP panelling.

A US company, "Race Car Replicas" produces an authentic looking replica of both the Spyder and MkIIIB coupe T70 using an aluminium monocoque chassis.

A South African Company, "Universal Products" produces a tubular spaceframe-chassis version, clad in aluminium, of the T70 MkIIIB.

T70 Mk3B - 2005[edit]

In 2005 Lola cars announced "an authentic and limited continuation series" [4] of the original T70 MkIIIB.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Competition Press, November 13, 1965, Pages 1, 6.
  2. ^ Thorson, Thor (June 2014). "1966 Lola T70 Mk II Can-Am Spyder". Sports Car Market 26 (6): 80–81. 
  3. ^ Motor Sport, March 1969, Pages 236, 244. See also cover photograph.
  4. ^ Lola Group: Race Cars and Projects: Lola T70 MkIIIB Continuation