Lola got the jump on McLaren in the ‘big banger’ stakes with its beautiful, well-balanced T70 coupe. John Surtees used one to win at Mosport, St Jovite and Brands Hatch in 1965 before being badly hurt in a Mosport practice accident. He returned better than ever to win the first Can-Am title in ’66 with an updated car. Lola was the dominant force that year, winning five of the six rounds, yet it would win just three more times in the series.
In its defence it did not run a works team a la McLaren. The case for the prosecution, however, is strong: whereas McLaren adopted an evo approach, Lola’s latest offering tended to have little connection with its predecessor, and was often diametrically opposed.
The T160 of 1968 was a tidied-up T70 that took Chuck Parsons to a distant third in the standings. The reworked T163 followed in ’69 and Dave Causey finished fourth overall. But at the same time Lola US importer Carl Haas was running a T220 for Peter Revson. This curvaceous, short-wheelbase car showed promise, but it wasn’t until 10in (!) was added to its wheelbase that Revson felt comfortable with it.
The T260 of 1971 was different again: angular and snub-nosed. Its biggest plus point was its driver: Jackie Stewart. He took the fight to the McLaren, scoring Lola’s last two Can-Am wins, but even he couldn’t halt their inexorable title progress. The T260, meanwhile, ended the season a very different animal. Initial talk of low drag was forgotten and it had sprouted a ‘tea tray’ front wing, while its rear wing had been moved further and further back.
Lola’s final Can-Am volte face was its voluminous, shovel-nosed T310 of 1972. Work on it started late, testing was minimal and good results were in very short supply.