The old phrase ‘if it looks right it is right’ is one of those things that’s true when it’s true. But if an ugly thing works well, nobody mentions it… Today it’s much harder to reconcile advanced aero demands with the line of beauty – witness the entire LMP grid – but some machines simply came out right from day one, and the Lola T70, in all its variants, was one. That curvaceous tapering nose, the confident wing line sweeping down to the flanking air inlets and the bold, level rear wingline running to a kick-up tail make it one of the stand-out shapes of the 1960s, and it’s one of the few sports-racers that looks equally imposing open or closed. In coupé form the roof bubble neatly divides into a pair of buttresses which help channel air to the tail spoiler – practical as well as pretty – but the spider version, such as Legends Automotive has on offer, has its own muscularity.
Eric Broadley’s Group 6/7 and Can-Am challenger was pretty much a success from the beginning in 1965, and the following year John Surtees’ run of victories in Can-Am made him a dominant series champion. The Lola remained a front-line contender for three or four years, and with more than 100 built it has also become a mainstay of historic racing, and a favourite with everyone.
This example, SL71/48, was built for the Surtees team in 1965 and displayed at the Racing Car Show in January 1966. It
was then raced by Graham Hill, David Hobbs and Surtees, who won the Wills Trophy at Croft in it. After a trans-Atlantic transfer, as Daniel Glanz of Legends explains, it had a desultory racing career in the United States before being stored for 18 years. “It
was recommissioned by Lola specialist Mac McClendon and won on its first outing at the Monterey Reunion in 2011. When it came to us it had the incorrect block, but it’s now back to its original spec with a 5.7-litre wet-sump small block, four Weber downdraughts and a Hewland LG500 gearbox.
“The car belongs to Phil Hall,” Daniel continues, “and has extensive files about its history and restoration. It’s currently prepared by Phil Cheek of CMS and it’s thoroughly sorted.”
Undoubtedly. In recent years the car has figured at Goodwood, where in the 2015 Members’ Meeting Nick Padmore took the outright lap record in the Bruce McLaren Trophy – there’s a wonderfully noisy YouTube onboard video of that.
It’s a car that will bring invitations from meetings all over Europe and America, and when you’re not racing it you can always just gaze at it…