Lola T70


Dario Franchitti Lola T70

"The Lola feels a little different in that  it’s an active racing car, while the 917 and 512S are borderline museum pieces. This is a bit more ‘on the button’, maybe a bit more sorted. In chassis terms it’s fantastic, you can feel how it rolls together. It has a lot more grip than I’d imagined and heavy steering – with a big wheel and lots of weight fed through it. If you were being picky the 5-litre Chevy V8 engine lets it down a bit, but I guess in its day it was a cheap way to find loads of horsepower. And you have to remember that the original T70 predates the 917 and the 512S by a few years…

“You don’t really need a gearlever because it has so much torque. It pulls from nothing like American muscle cars do. It just grunts along and it has probably been the surprise of the day. It’s so much fun to drive. And because it races regularly, I felt a bit more willing to push it.

“From the outside the driving environments might look similar, but they are actually quite different. The Lola has more room, the steering wheel is higher and closer to you – a more modern type of arrangement and certainly less compromised than the 917 or the 512S. I would be a lot happier doing 24 hours in this as far as the cockpit goes because it’s the most comfortable of the three. Perhaps it doesn’t have the peak performance of the Porsche or the Ferrari, but what it has to offer is more accessibility.

“It’s a great thought to have, isn’t it? Racing a T70 in South Africa, Angola or maybe some of the crazier places in South America that these things showed up. With that American V8 behind you and a stock of spare parts from Lola, you could have done that and I reckon it would be a lot of fun, although a wee bit toasty in the hotter climates.

“I think the T70 is probably underrated – I certainly underrated it – but it surprised me in a very positive way.

“The one thing that maybe lets it down, is the gearbox, which is a bit stiff. You have to be very, very careful with it, but it’s probably a necessity as it has to handle all that torque. Once you acclimatise, it’s business as usual.

“One of the reasons the late ’60s/early ’70s era of sports car racing caught the imagination is because there were essentially no rules. Look at a 917 today and you think, ‘Wow, a 250mph sports car, that’s special’ – but back in 1969 it must have been perceived as a spaceship. That’s why people loved sports car racing – and the T70 made it accessible to an awful lot of drivers who didn’t have access to a Porsche or a Ferrari. In some ways it was a grid-filler, but that’s doing it a terrible injustice.

“If you could take the handling, dependability and accessibility of the T70 and combine it with the 917’s engine and fast-corner balance and the slow-corner agility of the 512S, you’d have a pretty good car.”

Lola T70 cockpit

Essential stats

Eric Broadley masterpiece, almost everyone’s favourite Lola

Engine: 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8
Introduced: 1969 (Mk1 in 1965)

Notable victories

1969 Daytona 24 Hours   Mark Donohue/Chuck Parsons
1969 Guards Trophy, Snetterton   Paul Hawkins
1969 Embassy Trophy, Thruxton   Brian Redman
1969 Tourist Trophy, Oulton Park   Trevor Taylor
1969 GP de Paris, Montlhéry   Jo Bonnier
1969 Norisring 200   Brian Redman
1969 Kodak Trophy, Thruxton   Denny Hulme
1969 Swedish GP, Karlskoga   Brian Redman
1969 Cape Town 3 Hours, Killarney   Frank Gardner/Mike de Udy
1970 GP de Paris, Montlhéry   Richard Attwood
1970 Vila Real 500Kms   Teddy Pilette/Gustave Gosselin
1970 Copa Brasil, Interlagos   Wilson Fittipaldi
1971 GP de Paris, Montlhéry   Bob Wollek